Wenger – changes and ‘Champions League focus’ – pre-Porto

Arsene Wenger spoke on a large range of issues in the press conference ahead of the Champions League game against Porto.

It has been widely expected that there will be changes in the line-up that lost to Hull City, but a knee-jerk reaction will not be the correct one.

The BBC has the video of Arsene Wenger’s pre-match press conference.

Wenger said there would be changes:

“There will be changes, certainly,” the Arsenal manager said. “I will see how many, but there will be changes.

“There were enough ingredients (in the Hull game) to make me physically sick.

“What we delivered was not good enough and we know that. I believe that is more down to the mental side than anything technical.”

“What is important now is to recover and prepare for the next game,”

He then calmed speculation that the changes were being made as punishment through demotion to the bench:

“Punishment? No, you know sometimes you make changes because you consider the other team, you consider the balance of your team, sometimes because one player is not at his best,”

“If a player or two do not play tomorrow it is not a punishment, it is just because of a rotation in the side. You cannot play every single game with the same 11 players.”

“I believe the goal we conceded where we are less guilty is the corner against Hull because it was a well-taken chance,” he said. “[Hull’s Daniel] Cousin is very tall and very good in the air. It was a perfect header and that can happen to anybody.

“You gain experience through the games. At the back is where we have experience because you cannot say with Clichy and Sagna and Kolo and Gallas that we lack experience. Will Kolo play in midfield? No, not at all.

“As for Vela, it’s difficult to go into any individual case. I believe Carlos Vela is a player of the squad and the whole squad will be used over the season. You cannot go from one team to the other and change 11 players because we just lost one game.

“I believe what is happening is that players have shown quality behind the first team and that is very interesting for the future of the Club.”

On the last CL game against Dynamo Kiev he defended the team:

“The side we played against Dynamo Kiev was very young. Theo Walcott is 19, Alexandre Song is 21, Denilson is 20 and even Cesc Fabregas is only 21,”

“It is not easy to win away in the Champions League with such a lack of experience.”

“This group is tougher than in previous years. It is definitely the most even group we have had because there are no easy games.

“That makes the match with Porto more important. We know in the Champions League you qualify with 10 points, so if we win our home games we are through.

“If we can do well, then the other teams will take all the points off each other and that is why I think even draws from our away games could prove good results because all the teams will drop points.

“There is no obvious weakest team, so every game will be very important and we will have to be at a high level for every game.”

He believes that we need to regain a ‘Champions League focus’ for every game:

“I believe the Champions League is a different game,”

“We have learned from the Hull match that you need a Champions League focus in every game.

“If we are guilty of something it is that we couldn’t get our focus to the right level to take our chances.

“The analysis of the game shows that we had enough opportunities to win. On the other hand, they made 100 per cent of the few chances they had. So credit to them and damage to us.

“You have not to make too much of it. We lost a game we did not want to lose but we have enough strength inside the Club and inside the team to deal with that. It can happen but it cannot be repeated.

“I don’t think we needed to be woken up but it was a big disappointment because we felt that we had enough quality to win the game.”

On injuries the main news is that Nasri is back:

“Song has still not recovered, I had him on the bench on Saturday but he did not feel comfortable and he had a little setback.

“Nasri is fit and is in the squad.”

Gallas echoed Wenger’s comments talking about how he wants to prepare:

“What we delivered against Hull was not good enough, we know that, so the important thing now is not how many games we can lose this season, but preparing well for Tuesday night.”

All in all you can tell that the team are very dissappointed about the Hull result. Losing at home is never pleasant, and especially not against teams like Hull.

It is very, very worrying that we have lost for a second time this season to ‘smaller teams’, and that we conceded from a corner yet again – we look extremely weak when defending set pieces.

All I can hope is that the team can recover and be back to their best for the Porto match, or we will be in trouble in the CL, and pressure will build from the media and fans.

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Arsenal salvage a draw with Dynamo Kiev – Watch the highlights here!

Arsenal were lucky to come away with a point tonight after a 1-1 draw with Dynamo Kiev in front of 20 000 in the Ukraine. Dynamo went ahead after a penalty was harshly awarded against Bacary Sagna, and they defended hard afterwards.

Arsenal left it late to equalise, with a low Walcott cross bouncing its way to Gallas at the far post who bundled it home.

Click on the links below to watch the goals.

Dynamo Kiev 1 – Bangoura 64′ (pen)

Arsenal 1 – Gallas 88′

We looked good early on, and there were great chances for Adebayor and Fabregas. But after half time Dynamo seemed to improve. They piled on the pressure, and eventually the penalty was conceded.

Walcott impressed yet again tonight, his confidence seems sky high at the moment, and he is fulfilling his potential right now.

Interestingly Sagna came off for Eboue in the second half, suggesting he may have picked up a slight knock.

I think we were lucky to salvage the point, but I’ll take it.

The stats tell the tale – a game where Dynamo defended and tackled well, although Arsenal had the most attacking pressure, and eventually managed to break down the Ukrainians.

Dinamo Kiev Team Statistics Arsenal
1 Goals 1
0 1st Half Goals 0
2 Shots on Target 5
8 Shots off Target 4
7 Blocked Shots 3
3 Corners 8
17 Fouls 14
2 Offsides 4
4 Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards 0
84.9 Passing Success 86.1
14 Tackles 21
85.7 Tackles Success 66.7
46.6 Possession 53.4
44.3 Territorial Advantage 55.7


Dynamo Kiev: Bogush, Betao, Diakhate, Mykhalyk, Nesmachniy, Vukojevic, Yussuf (Asatiani 90), Yeremenko, Aliev, Ninkovic, Bangoura (Kravets 90).
Subs Not Used: Shovkovskiy, Ghioane, Morozyuk, Shatskikh, Olexander Romanchuk.

Booked: Nesmachniy, Bangoura, Vukojevic, Diakhate.

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna (Eboue 78), Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Walcott, Fabregas, Song Billong (Bendtner 70), Denilson, Van Persie (Vela 83), Adebayor.
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Ramsey, Wilshere, Djourou.

Booked: Sagna.

Ref: Luis Medina Cantalejo (Spain).

Adebayor’s Champions League hunger + Dynamo Kiev vs. Arsenal squad

Adebayor has been talking to Arsenal.com about winning the Champions League and the Dynamo game, it makes very interesting reading.

I’ve emphasised the diffculties of playing in the Ukraine, and Ade picks up on this too:

“We know that playing in Ukraine is going to be very difficult especially because their players are playing in front of their fans and will be doing everything to win the game. But we are Arsenal. We just have to believe in ourselves and, if we can, play our football. If we can stay patient, score the goals then, in the end, we’ll win the game.”

I think we need to get into the game early and really hit Kiev hard in attack. If we aren’t concentrating properly they could punish us early-on.

Ade says he has hunger to win the CL, maybe more than his team-mates, because he was cup-tied in 2006 when reached the final.

“I couldn’t play back then because I was cup-tied and in my head it was difficult.”

“I think I’m not the only one. Cesc lost in the Final aswell and Kolo lost in the Final aswell so to be honest I think all these players would like to win it in their career.”

One very important point, we are playing 3 diffcult away games in one week – we have stumbled with this in the past – last year’s loss to Middlesbrough for example. Ade has the right attitude:

“We’ve won at Blackburn so we have to play away again.”

“We are just taking game after game. We go to Kiev. Let’s win that game then we can talk easily about the game at Bolton.

Click here for the full article.

Arsene Wenger named the squad flying out to Kiev yesterday, Nasri and Silvestre were still missing, although Clichy and Eboue are both going after passing fitness tests.

Click here for the BBC match preview page

Expect a fairly standard 4-4-2 line-up, Ade and RVP upfront, with Eboue playing central midfield possibly, to beef things up (whether he will be effective remains to be seen) either that or he will play on the wing instead of Walcott.

Wenger may opt for a 4-5-1 if he thinks it will be tough out there. Ade will be on his own up front, Van Persie on the left of midfield.

Click here for Dynamo Kiev coach Yury Semin’s comments and here for Wenger’s thoughts.

Here’s to a successful game.

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Wenger looks ahead to the Kiev match, is one point enough?

Arsene Wenger has commented on how tough the tie will be in Kiev. We’ve played in the Ukraine three times, and lost everytime. I mentioned our poor record in Eastern Europe earlier today, and Wenger knows it won’t be easy.

He’s played it down, saying a point will be a good start for him:

“It is a tough place for us to go,”“It is maybe a little bit better for us to play earlier but I am convinced it will still be a massive challenge. We’ll go there and try to win the game but even if we take a point then for me it will be a good start.

“Dynamo Kyiv knocked out Spartak Moscow 4-1, 4-1 [in each leg of their qualifying game]. When you know Spartak Moscow and how strong the Russian League is at the moment that means it is a tough draw. I saw the first game at Spartak Moscow and Dynamo Kyiv were really impressive.

“Our group has four teams who are all used to playing in the Champions League – Fenerbache, Porto, Dynamo and us. Anyone can take points off anyone that’s why for me it’s very important we start well in this game.”

We do have a particuarly tough group, the away games will be crucial, because ties in the Ukraine and Turkey are notoriously difficult – last year Chelsea lost 2-1 to Fenerbahce in the Quarter-Finals there. Porto are also a quality side, all of these teams have Champions League quality.

In the Sun he said:

“For me, Dynamo Kiev is a bit of an unknown quantity,”

“They look like they always have the best players around their region, so it really depends on the quality of the generation they have at the moment.

“But they can be a very dangerous side. We know that because we played them when they had Shevchenko, Rebrov and Luzhny and they were a very, very difficult side.”

This is true. I don’t think Dynamo’s current crop will be as good as that team, but they are still the best Ukrainian team, and they will make life very hard for us out there.

Of course we will go for the win, but Arsene is talking it down in order not to raise expectations.

Do you think he’s right, is one point a good start?

Dynamo Kiev’s game plan for Wednesday

Yesterday at the Valery Lobanovsky Stadium Dynamo Kiev manager Yury Semin spoke about our upcoming Champions League fixture in Kiev, and revealed some of his thoughts on Arsenal and his tactics.

He has been watching the team closely in the run up to the fixture and had this to say about us:

“Arsene Wenger’s side play an easy natural game, and enjoy their football,”

“They have many young and talented footballers, all very technically gifted.”

He was impressed by the 4-0 win at Blackburn,

The game was totally in Arsenal’s control,”

“Despite the four goals scored they had many other chances. Arsenal’s victory was absolutely the fair result.”

He also mentioned Adebayor, and it sounds like Dynamo will give Ade a rough time:

“We knew very well prior to this, the capabilities of the Arsenal forward,”

“But we will not be putting a man-marker on him. Adebayor plays all over the pitch, and in every zone there will be one of our players to meet him.”

It looks like Dynamo have been watching us closely and know that the only way to stop us is to press us all over the pitch.

Semin will have seen how we exploited the open spaces against Blackburn, and he will be working with the players to stifle our tactics.

Expect Dynamo to be defensive, it’s not going to be easy, we’re playing away and that is always very difficult especially in the Ukraine and Russia. Many European teams fail out East and we have before – Spartak Moscow a few years ago for example.

Wenger will have been studying Dynamo with his staff, and I hope that they can work out a way to get us into the game, otherwise we may be in for 90 minutes of frustration.

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