Partizan Belgrade vs Arsenal
Group Stage, UEFA Champions League
Stadion FK Partizan, Belgrade
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Arsenal suffered a 3-2 loss at the hands of West Brom on the weekend in the English Premier League and they will be hoping to recover some lost pride when they goto Serbia to face FK Partizan Belgrade. Or is it as easy as it seems like?
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Lets take a look into the unknown world of Partizan Belgrade, who are actually named: FK Partizan.
Aleksandar Stanojevic. Doesn’t ring any bells, does it? Stanojevic is 36 and he’s in-charge of his boyhood club, Partizan. He took over in April and helped the club turn around a deficit to win the league title and then went a step further by beating Belgian champions Anderlecht on penalties to progress to the group stage of the Champions League.
Stanojevic does not seem too content with that. He said:
“I’m not scared of playing Arsenal, certainly not. I’ve never thought that way about anyone. The players won’t be nervous because they are playing in front of their own fans and it is a special experience, as you will see.
“My players and I are very pleased to have the opportunity to play against Arsenal and in this competition and though I am hoping that we can stay in Europe until the spring, we must wait and see. Finishing in the top two in the group and reaching the last 16 is still unrealistic for us, but you never know. It was unrealistic for us to get into the group stage of the Champions League, so…”
Earlier he had already told the club’s website about Arsenal’s weaknesses:
“Of course, Arsenal has weakness. Their defense is not so good as many would think.
“They simply play in such manner that there is lot of space for any opponent there, and you seize that or not. There are certain things we can take advantage of, but we’ll see if we are able to do so on Tuesday.
“With the atmosphere we have, I believe we can give our maximum and get a positive result. It’s hard to predict anything.
“We’ll have as much game as Arsenal will allow us, just like our game versus Spartak Zlatibor Voda, where it was opposite, while the visitors played rather well.
“I’d like to see us attack Arsenal just as we did Spartak but we have to be realistic – Arsenal scored four the other day at White Hart Lane with a mixed side.”
Partizan had a 12-match winning run in the league which was halted with a 0-0 stalemate against FK Spartak Zlatibor Voda. Stanojevic has rested Mladen Krstajic, Marko Jovanivic and Radosav Petrovic.
Aleksandar Miljkovic picked up an ankle injury during training and he has been sidelined. Krstajic broke his nose earlier in the month and he will probably continue to wear a protective face mask.
Arsenal is going away from home in Europe on the back of three consecutive losses. They went 4-1 down to a certain individual Lionel Messi last time around in the quarterfinals, following on from defeats to Porto and Olympiakos.
It gets even more worrying that Arsenal have only won two out of their last ten away matches in the competition – excluding qualifiers.
It’s a stark reminder for the Gunners boss Arsene Wenger that despite how beautiful football you might play, they still have their frailties at the back and in goal. Wenger has repeatedly refused to point the finger at Manuel Almunia but the Frenchman has claimed that the long injury list at the club is no excuse for the defeat to the Hammers.
Arsenal will probably need a similar result as the 6-0 thrashing of Braga to boost the squad’s moral for the game against Chelsea at the weekend.
Captain Cesc Fabregas is still out while Almunia is to miss the game through injury – I don’t know whether that’s good news or bad. Lukasz Fabianski is set to step up. Thomas Vermaelen has been sidelined with an Achilles problem, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott are not to be expected until mid-October.
Abou Diaby is back and is likely to retain his spot, Jack Wilshere might also come into the starting line-up.
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