Some years ago, on this day in 1998, our beloved Arsenal played a champions league game against RC Lens of France and that game ended 1-1.
Fast forward some years forward to 2015 and our beloved Arsenal are having a game in the Champions League, this time against Dinamo Zagreb, the Croatian champions.
It is worth noting that Zagreb are on a 41 match unbeaten run and trust me they wouldn’t want Arsenal to end that run. That being established, we can be sure to expect a not so easy game.
Their manager had this to say, Zoran Mamic: “Arsenal are a top-quality team – better than us – but our aim is not to sit back and defend. We will try to pose them problems. We have been playing a style of game for the whole season, so to change just for one match is not good, so it will be our desire to play the same way tomorrow. I expect a full stadium and great atmosphere.”
The team are in Zagreb already after flying there on Tuesday and are buzzing to get their Champions league campaign started on a high and what better way to start than with a win against Dinamo Zagreb later tonight.
Zagreb are inching closer to replicating Arsenal’s Invincible feat of the early 2000s when they went 49 games unbeaten in the league, creating a niche for themselves in Premier League history. The Croatian club are currently eight games adrift to match that record, but manager Zoran Mamić will also realise that this is a competition where they have struggled for consistency in recent years.
This is Zagreb’s third qualification in the group stages over the past five years, having failed to make the knockout stages a single time in the given period. On both occasions they finished last in the group, losing 11 out of the 12 games, while drawing 1-1 against Dinamo Kiev to secure their only point.
I really don’t need to shell out Arsenal’s Champions league record here, we all know how it has been for us in the past years.
Anyways, turning attention to today’s game.
Arsene Wenger will be hoping for a better showing this time around after a poor start to their Premier League campaign, where they have dropped five points from their first five games, losing and drawing one each in the process. The Gunners are without Danny Welbeck, Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere, who are all out with long-term injuries. Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey and Hector Bellerin have not travelled with the squad for this game.
Arsene Wenger: “Croatian football produces always top level technical quality, that is their strength. We have to focus on our own performance and to beat them have to play at our best and without speculating on any weak link in a team that has not lost a game for 11 months. What is important is we focus on our game. You are quickly out in the Champions League if you do not start well. We know we have a vital game and it is important we focus on that.”
With Ramsey and Bellerin left in London, we can expect Debuchy and Chamberlain to get some game time.
It is expected some rotation would take place for the game today, considering we have that game against Chelsea at the weekend.
As much as Zagreb are no pushovers, we all expect our beloved arsenal to grab all 3 points from this one. If for nothing, just for the pride of the English game, considering the fact that both Manchester teams lost yesterday.
Cech, Debuchy, Koscielny, Gabriel, Gibbs, Arteta, Cazorla, Chamberlain, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud.