Date: 16th September 2008 at 10:10pm
Written by:

On Sky

Arsenal begin their Champions League campaign on Wednesday against Dynamo Kyiv, in the second part of their three match road trip. After an up and down Champions League run last year, Arsenal will hope that they can be much more consistent this year and take the next step up to lifting the trophy with the big ears. The Champions League schedule makers were kind to Arsenal when they made this game in September rather than the bitter cold Russian winter. This will not be a home game for Dynamo, because their normal stadium, the Olimpiyskiy Stadium, has been demolished so it can be improved in preparation for the next Euro`s in four years time, so the game will be played at Lobanovsky Dynamo Stadium.

Arsenal`s attack has been firing on all cylinders ever since they stuttered against Fulham. Since that game, in three games Arsenal has outscored their opponents 11-0. Last year in the Champions League, Dynamo Kyiv was the whipping boy in group F, losing all six games, including an 8-2 aggregate loss to Manchester United. Their goal differential was abysmal as well, giving up an astonishing 19 goals and only scoring 4. With Arsenal`s attack in perfect harmony as of late, Kyiv will have a difficult time improving on their defensive record from last year.

Vital Quotes:

Adebayor talked about the coming Euro campaign. ‘We have every chance to win the Champions League with Arsenal,’ Adebayor declared.

‘I had the chance to be in the final with Monaco, but I was on the bench and I could see all these special things going on.

‘Then with Arsenal, I could not play because I was cup-tied and in my head it was difficult – but now I have a chance to play so there is an argument for me to be more hungry than most of my team-mates.

‘However, I am not the only one. Cesc [Fabregas] and Kolo [Toure] lost in the [2006] final as well and so all these players would like to win it in their career.

‘These are the things that we are going to pin together as brothers and help each other on the pitch and off the pitch and try to achieve something this season.’

Arsene also talked about the group stages. “It is a tough place for us to go,” he said. “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.”

Dynamo Kyiv manager Yury Semin was concerned about the form Arsenal`s attack is in, with Adebayor in particular. ‘Arsene Wenger’s side play an easy natural game, and enjoy their football,’ he told Dynamo’s official website. ‘They have many young and talented footballers, all very technically gifted.’

‘We knew very well prior to this the capabilities of the Arsenal forward,’ said Semin. ‘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.’

Dynamo Kyiv Team News:

Kyiv will be without Moroccan defender Badr El Kaddouri, who has to serve a one match suspension, but everybody else should be fit for the Ukrainian club.

Player to watch: Masksim Shatskikh

Masksim Shatskikh has been a scoring threat for Kyiv for a long time. He has been at the club since 1999, in those years he has scored 96 goals in 209 league appearances, and he also has scored 11 goals in 8 Champion League seasons. With Arsenal`s defense still looking shaky, Shatskikh will hope he can get his name on the score sheet.

Arsenal Team News:

Clichy and Eboue have both been passed fit to be included in the squad, but Frenchman Samir Nasri has been ruled out for at least one more game. Silvestre is once again not fit to take part in the squad, and Eduardo, Diaby, Rosicky and Bischoff are all still out.

Almunia will start in goal, with Clichy, Sagna, Gallas, and Toure in the defense. I can see Theo Walcott getting rested, but that`s only if Eboue can start. If that is the case, then Carlos Vela will probably slot in on the left side of midfield with Cesc Fabregas and Denilson in the middle of the park, though I would like to see Song take over for Denilson. Adebayor and Van Persie will be the forwards.

Player to watch: Emmanuel Adebayor

The Kyiv coach has expressed his concern about how his team is going to deal with Adebayor and rightly so. Dynamo has never seen a striker like Adebayor, who has it all physically: power, pace, strength,and height. I see Ade causing their defense all sorts of problems in this one.

Ref Watch: Luis Medina Cantalejo(ESP)

Luis Cantalejo is a Spanish referee who is a very experienced official and rarely gets involved in any controversy, though he played a pivotal part in the Zidane head butt scandal. Cantalejo was the fourth official who saw Zidane head butt Materazzi, and he told the head official to send the illustrious Frenchman off. He was also the head official in the England v. Russia game in Moscow for the Euro 2008 qualifying game.

Match Prediction:

I just can’t see Dynamo slowing down the Arsenal attack in this game. But I can definitely see Kyiv scoring. 3-1 to the Gunners. Adebayor, Van Persie, and Vela to score for the Arsenal.

Next Fixtures:

20/9– Bolton– Premier League

23/9– Sheffield United– Carling Cup

27/9– Hull City– Premier League