Sevilla v Arsenal: Champions League – live | Champions League
I talked about confidence earlier, in regard to Arsenal; well, Sevilla have it too. They feel unbeatable at home in Europe, with good reason – they qualified by winning the Europa League, again, and will get after it from the start. I’m sure Arteta will have drilled into his team the need to start properly, but it’s easier said than done and they’ve developed a dangerous habit of allowing opposing attackers to run right through the middle of them.
Full-times: Galatasaray 1-3 Bayern Munich, Inter 2-1 Salzburg.
If I’m Diego Alonso, I’m having En-Nesyri plonked on Jorginho every time Ramsdale has the ball; if I’m Arteta, I’m thinking about using Rice as my 6, with Jorginho as one of my 8s.
I’ve not actually been to Sánchez Pizjuán, but mates who have – and who’ve been all over – speak of it very highly. The most intimidating atmosphere I’ve experienced, by far – and I’ve been to Besiktas, Milan, Madrid, Barcelona and others – was at Rangers when Man United were there in 2003. It wasn’t as good the second time, but that first one, goodness me – and, of course, Ibrox is also one of our most beautiful grounds – especially the main stand facade, designed by Archibald Leitch.
So where is the game for Arsenal? I worry a little about them in central midfield – Jorginho has his attributes but can be got at – though they’ll fancy themselves against the right side of Sevilla’s defence. I’d expect Martinelli to look in behind Navas but he’ll also want to get at him one-on-one, while Jesus will surely plan to run off Ramos who, though still good, doesn’t have the speed to keep up.
Looking again at the Sevilla side, my guess is they look to hit En-Nesyri and play off him. But they can also move it through midfield, Soumaré a better player than he looked at Leicester and Rakitic the same beautiful passer he ever was. If those two play well, the front three are in the game and Arsenal will have a problem.
Bayern are so bayern. Harry Kane and Jamal Musiala have put them 3-1 up at Gala, so that one’s over, while in Milan, Inter lead Salzburg 2-1.
Email! “I was lucky enough to be in the Éstadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán the other week,” writes Justin Kavanagh, “with the Tartan Army in full voice. The chants were as entertaining as the football. But as Arsenal’s only Scotsman is out on loan (in Spain!) at the moment, I fear the Gunners have no chance of following through on the Scots’ threat to ‘Deep fry your tapas, we’re gonna deep fry your tapas’.”
Heh, that would definitely be an improvement. I’m sorry Guardianistas, but it is what it is.
It’s not hard to understand why Arteta has done what he’s done: he wants solidity not creativity. And given Lukebakio, Sevilla’s right-winger is left-footed, he’ll be coming inside on Tomiyasu’s stronger side.
Otherwise, David Raya remains the favourite keeper despite his weekend error – by the looks of things, Aaron Ramsdale will have to leave at some point – and in midfield, the priority is again solidity, Jorginho chosen ahead of Fabio Vieiera and Kai Havertz.
Sevilla are unchanged following their 1-1 weekend home draw with Real Madrid. Arsenal, meanwhile, make one alteration: Takehiro Tomiyasu is in for Oleks Zinchenko.
Righto, I’ll write these down and then we’ll discuss what they mean. Elsewhere, Galatasaray and Bayern Munich are level at 1-1 with 20 (+4,398) to go. If it stays like that, it’s poor news for Manchester United, who could use Bayern beating everyone.
Sevilla (4-3-3): Nyland; Jesus Navas, Ramos, Gudelj, Acuña; Sow, Soumaré, Rakitic; Lukebakio, En-Nesyri, Ocampos. Subs: Dmitrovic, Gattoni, Pedrosa, Suso, Jordán, Rafa Mir, Mariano Díaz, Nianzou, Lamela, Óliver Torres, Badé, Juanlu.
Arsenal (4-3-3): Raya; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tomiyasu; Jorginho, Rice, Odegaard; Saka, Jesus, Martinelli. Subs: Ramsdale, Hein, Smith Rowe, Nketiah, Kiwior, Cedric, Trossard, Vieira, Nelson, Elneny, Havertz, Zinchenko.
Referee: Glenn Nyberg (Sweden)
Also for your delectation:
Arsenal haven’t yet got going this season. This is a positive development.
Seriously, stick with me. Mikel Arteta’s men began the last campaign superbly and they needed to – a more sedate start, they don’t generate the confidence and momentum that fired their title challenge. Now, though, things are different. Arsenal no longer think they might get good, they’re certain they’re good already, so what matters at this point is staying in touch. It’s in the new year, when pressure ratchets up, that their needle really needs to hit the groove.
However defeat at Lens last time out makes tonight’s encounter a problem; lose, and they’re in serious danger of group-stage elimination. Still, they should have enough to get a result here, given Sevilla, 13th in La Liga, are hardly formidable opponents on the face of things. Football matches, though, are not played on the face of things, and regardless of how well their team are playing, the Sánchez Pizjuán is never not a formidable opponent – especially in Europe.
As such, this would be a good time for Arteta to hit upon his most coherent XI, because though his side now know they can beat the best, they’ve not yet done it away from home in the Champions League. So a win tonight would represent another important landmark passed and leave them on the verge of qualification for the knockout stages. before they’ve even got going this season. That too would be a positive development.
Kick-off: 9pm local, 8pm BST