Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Arsenal's Trip To Dinamo Zagreb Previewed

The Champions League is back and Arsenal make the trip to Zahreb tonight to play Crotian champions Dinamo. In a group that also contains Bayern Munich and Olympiacos, Arsenal will be expected to qualify for the last 16 but winning the group won't be easy. To do so they will have to get the better of Bayern and that's no easy task.

Arsene Wenger should have more or less the same squad available as he had in the weekend victory over Stoke with the exception of Aaron Ramsey and Hector BelÅ‚erin who have been rested for the trip.  The need for rotation is pressing with a hard schedule ahead, but Dinamo cannot be taken lightly. There are very few easy games in the Champions League and both Manchester teams have already got their campaigns off to a bad start.

I would expect to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain come in as he has plenty to offer and there's every chance Olivier Giroud will play from the start too. I wouldn't be surprised if one of Mathieu Debuchey, Kieran Gibbs or Per Mertesacker was included also as all are capable of stepping straight into the team. There's the possibility of Mikel Arteta or Mathieu Flamini reacing Francis Coquelin, but it's not a decision I would be overly happy with if it did happen.

Whatever team is chosen from the start they will have to be up for the game in what promises to be an intimidating atmosphere. I would expect Dinamo to defend deep and try to hit Arsenal on the break as so many other teams attempt to do. Arsenal might need plenty of patience to try to break them down, but they certainly have the players to do so.

For me it's very important to get the Champions League off to a good start and three points would be the ideal one. If Arsenal can amass enough points to ensure qualification for the knockout stages before their final game that would be great as I can do without the final day nerves. In an ideal world Arsenal will win their group and get a relatively easier draw in the last 16, but it's been a long time since that last happened.

You never know what the draw will bring though and Arsnal were seen to have got a relatively easy last 16 opponent last season only to blow it in the home leg. That game was a lesson in treating your opponents with respect and making sure you are on your game in European games. Hopefully that lesson has been learned and Arsenal can grind out the win to get their campaign off to a good start.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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