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Arsenal v Sevilla preview

Before I get on with the business of tonight’s rather tasty match against Sevilla, I will touch (very quickly) on Saturday’s excellent win.

It’s always nice to take three points off of Spurs, especially at their place but what was most pleasing was the manner of the victory. Some of the football we played was awesome at times, especially in the first half when we ripped through Spurs almost at will. It really was top stuff and what’s really pleasing so far this season is that we’ve mixed good football with a steely determination – which if continues, bodes very well for the rest of the season.

I won’t digest individual performances but both Cesc Fabregas and Bacary Sagna were absolutely brilliant. The much-maligned Mathieu Flamini also put in a stormer. A quick word on Sagna; I get more and more impressed each week I see him play and he looks to be another one of Le Boss’ inspired signings. Keep it up fella.

Spare a thought for poor old Anthony Gardener though, who still doesn’t know what it’s like to take three points off of The Arsenal. Tiddums.

Onto tonight and what will surely be a much stiffer test for us. Sevilla’s rise under Juande Ramos has been impressive. They are the current holders of the UEFA Cup (winning the competition on the previous two occasions) and led La Liga for the vast majority of last season before imploding in their final few games. This season they have started well posting impressive consecutive 4-1 victories against Getafe and Recreativo Huelva, although both are admittedly two of the weaker sides in La Liga. I’m sure they will find us an altogether more difficult proposition tonight.

Given their style of play, I can’t see Sevilla coming to play for a draw so hopefully we will get an open game. They’ve got some decent players in Daniel Alves, Fredi Kanoute, Jesus Navas and Alexander Kerzhakov and will create chances but (a bit like us) they are porous at the back and always run the risk of conceding. Keep an eye on Navas if he starts. He’s one of the players Le Boss was reportedly interested in and has bags of speed and tricks, even if the end product is sometimes lacking.

For them, tonight will be an interesting test as there’s a huge difference in quality between the UEFA Cup and the Champions League.

As for us, it’s always important to start the Champions League group stages well and more important to win the home games, so we’ll be looking for three points tonight. Once again we are without mad Jens Lehmann, Emmanuel Eboue and William Gallas through injury although Le Boss says that our skipper should return for the West Ham match in 10 days time. As a result, the defence picks itself. Manuel Fawlty (who was at fault for Spuds’ goal and made some rather erratic decisions during the game on Saturday), will start in sticks with Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy taking their usual full-back positions. I’d also expect Philippe Senderos to return to the heart of defence to partner Kolo Toure.

In midfield, it’s likely that Cesc Fabregas, Alex Hleb and Tomas Rosicky will all start. Who partners Cesc in central midfield is not so clear and if Gilberto hasn’t fully recovered from the jetlag which considerably affected his performance on Saturday, I’d expect Mathieu Flamini to start tonight.

Up front, I’d be surprised if it isn’t Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin Van Persie with Eduardo settling for a place on the bench following his rest at the weekend. Add Lukasz Fabianski and it’s a toss-up as to who will take the remaining five substitute slots.

While Sevilla will undoubtedly pose an attacking threat, I think we should have enough quality to edge this one. My good run with the scores would have continued at the weekend had Ade Cool not popped up with that later stunner and tonight Matthew I’m going for tight but entertaining 2-1 win with a sneaky feeling that one of the wide players – Hleb or Rosicky – will get on the scoresheet.

Don't forget to bring your scarf.

What do you think will happen tonight? Will we win, lose or draw? Leave your predictions below.

Picture: Getty Images

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Posted by Marco Bilello on September 19, 2007 2:30 PM in Champions League
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