AZ Alkmaar v Arsenal
Tuesday 20th October 2009
DS Stadium – Alkmaar
UEFA Champions League
Kick-off: 19:45 UK (20:45 CET)
Champions vs 4th placed team games are rarely this mismatched – the Dutch champions go into this game as underdogs despite playing at home (courtesy of a poor start to the season) while England’s fourth-best team have punters and pundits salivating over another potential European master-class from Wenger’s men.
Alkmaar won’t park the bus but their best chance might be to weather Arsenal’s initial storm before foraying out – Fabregas, Arshavin and Robin van Persie all expected to start the going will be tough, although there’s always the chance that given Arsenal’s list of injuries (and a slightly weak bench) a spiky performance from the Dutch could change the complexion of this group (yea right).
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Team news after the jump.
AZ Alkmaar Preview
Dutch champions AZ Alkmaar have struggled mightily in the opening months of the season and are yet to record their first victory in the Champions League.
After blowing a 1-0 lead over Standard Liege in the dying moments on matchday two, AZ will have a mountain to climb if they are to progress in the Champions League. A difficult Arsenal v AZ tie is the last thing that the side will want whilst their form is this inconsistent.
The Dutch side who were almost untouchable in last season’s Eredivisie have struggled domestically, as well. After ten matches played, AZ Alkmaar have an even record at five games won and five lost.
AZ’s rise to stardom in recent years has been a thing of beauty, though with the troubles the team has displayed in the early stages of the present campaign, perhaps the glory days are quickly coming to an end for Ronaldo Koeman’s side. Another possibility is that Koeman himself is the problem after failing miserably at Valencia last season and continuing the trend with AZ after taking over for Louis van Gaal who departed for Bayern Munich after the 2008/09 season.
AZ Alkmaar v Arsenal Betting
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Arsenal face the struggling AZ Alkmaar side on Tuesday night having won their last six matches in all competitions, including their opening two matches in the Champions League.
Saturday’s 3-1 victory for Arsenal over Birmingham was the latest in a string of impressive performances, as Arsene Wenger has his team firing on all cylinders. The Frenchman will know that a victory in Holland on Tuesday night in this Arsenal vs AZ Alkmaar match should be enough to see his side through to the knockout phase after only three games played.
In their most recent Champions League match, Arsenal scored two late goals to beat Olympiakos at the Emirates Stadium. The scoreline could have been far greater had it not been for a dazzling performance by the “grey wonder”, Antonis Nikopolidis, in net for the visitors.
AZ Alkmaar v Arsenal Predictions
There are no official AZ vs Arsenal head-to-head results to speak of, with the only past Arsenal – AZ Alkmaar meeting coming in a 2006 friendly in which the Gunners triumphed 3-0.
Even if AZ were in top form, a result here would be a tall order for the Dutch club. Given that they aren’t, there’s a risk that the score could grow quickly against the in-form Arsenal side.
AZ vs Arsenal Prediction: AZ Alkmaar 0 – Arsenal 3
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