Schalke 04 Preview: Ze Germans are Coming!!!
Yesterday’s Champions League fixtures proved that the level of the game in Europe’s elite club football competition is eons away from any football league in the world. I’m pretty sure it was called the Champions League for more reasons than one.
Great Britain ambassadors strutted their stuff last night but the only victors were Manchester United, as they had enough in the tank to see out SC Braga. I’d also learned that the founding fathers of the Portuguese outfit had close ties with Arsenal, which shows why their home kit is not different from ours – like that fucking matters right now.
Chelsea and Celtic weren’t so fortunate, as the Champions of Europe (Ooooou, scared) were given a run for their money by Shakhtar Donetsk. Had Chelsea had a goalie like Mannone, I’m pretty sure that the Ukrainian outfit would have knocked a hatful of goals past them. (That’s just me being harsh on Don Vito) .
Celtic really impressed me against Barcelona but when humans play against a cross breed of mutants and aliens without using the right weapons, we all know what the final outcome would be.
Tonight, England will showcase two of its finest contingent against teams from Germany and Holland. As expected, I don’t give two fledgling fucks about Manchester City’s tie with Ajax, as the team after my own heart plays the beautiful game at the Emirates tonight.
Schalke 04 visit the Emirates high in confidence after winning the defending German champions, Borussia Dortmund, this weekend, and they also have the red-hot Klass Jan Huntelaar in their ranks, that has notched up 66 goals in 90 appearance for the German outfit.
It’s also worth noting that the Germans arrive at the Emirates in good form, winning three and drawing two of their last five games. Arsenal on the other hand, are in a somewhat stuttering form with three victories and two defeats in their last five games.
However, the Germans have a wretched record on English soil, as they’ve lost six of their last eight visits in the shores of England, which includes a 3-2 loss to Arsenal in Highbury (2002).
The last defeat to Norwich hasn’t been taken likely by the club, its players and most especially, its passionate fans. Aaron Ramsey has declared that the team cannot wait to put things right, in the club’s bid to win back the hearts of the fans they filled with disappointment and despair last weekend.
As expected, Arsenal’s gaffer, Arsene Wenger, has called for a better response tonight,
“We have got over it and we will focus on our next game, that is the only way to deal with it, to put the disappointment behind us and focus on Schalke. As a team, we were not as efficient as we are used to. It can happen in the season. It is just of course at a very bad moment for us.
“I expect us to respond in a strong way because this team is very ambitious and wants to do very well.”
“We have a good opportunity, we play at home against Schalke and since we know that we won in Montpellier, our qualifying will depend on how well we do at home.”
And I must say, Arsenal’s Champions League record at home is outstanding. The Gunners have an extraordinary record at home against non-English opponents, as they are unbeaten in 45 matches at the Emirates.
Wenger was also quick to commend Arsenal’s German contingent for their professionalism, stating that it has boosted his squad. Lukas Podolski has been one of Arsenal’s most efficient players this season, and his goals, assists as well as his protection to his left fullback has been a joy to watch. Per Mertesacker on the other hand, has used his height, composure, coordination and experience to great effect this season, as his partnership with Thomas Vermaelen continues to excel, at Laurent Koscielny’s expense though.
With a combined total of 189 caps, the German duo have pedigree as well as the experience needed to flourish at Arsenal.
There are also two young Germans, Serge Gnabry and Thomas Eisfeld, working their way up the food chain, and the Capitol One cup could be used as a breeding ground for this talented lot.
To team news, the Gunners are pretty much stuck with Vito Mannone. He didn’t convince me last weekend, and I’m hoping that he won’t put a foot wrong tonight, because I won’t hold back my words if he attempts any thing out of the ordinary tonight.
Moving over to the defense, I expect a relatively unchanged back line from the team that played against Norwich. Many believe that Laurent Koscielny would replace Per Mertesacker in the heart of Arsenal’s defense to partner the Verm, but I feel that the fact that Arsenal lines up against German contingent would make it a better spectacle for BFG, as he’ll probably know a player or two in the Schalke side, which could spur him on to put up one hell of a show.
That’s my opinion though.
Despite the fact that Bacary Sagna has played quite a number of Under-21 games in his bid to gain full fitness, I still feel that Carl Jenkinson will be better suited for this game. It’s also worth noting that Lil’ Jenko has covered the most distance for Arsenal in the competition so far – a staggering 20,699 m.
In midfield, the boss has confirmed that Wilshere won’t be in contention for a game of this magnitude, but it still feels to know that at some point this season, the new No. 10 will be unveiled. Aaron Ramsey has also relished the prospect of playing alongside Jackie boy as well,
“He’s been out for a long time and I’ve been through a similar sort of thing. “I’m happy to see him back playing again. There’s nothing worse than being out for that period of time.
“We haven’t really had a chance to play together. He went out on loan, I got injured and then he got injured.
“He’s a gifted player, one that any midfielder would like to play with – and I’m no different. Hopefully that can be a possibility soon.”
With Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla being mainstays in the first team, the chances of Ramsey playing alongside Wilshere are slim to none but Wenger knows best.
In attack, Arsene Wenger’s options are limited with injuries to Theo Walcott and the Ox, which won’t help the team’s cause. I stumbled upon this interesting article on Bleacher Report tagged Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: What his injury means for Arsenal.
Trust me, its worth a read.
However, I believe that Wenger would stick with the disappointing trio of Saturday with the hope for an improved performance from Olivier Giroud, Gervinho and Podolski as well.
The German has spoken about the threat Schalke poses, but I feel that he shouldn’t be bothered about that, provided he does his bit on the pitch against them. In his FC Cologne days, he probably banged in a goal or two against the Germans, and Arsenal fans would be hoping for the same tonight.
Let’s hope for a great game of Champions League footie tonight, and don’t forget to watch it with your Heineken, the official Champions League drink.
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