As the world falls dowwwnnnnn - Christof Koepsel
In the reverse fixture, Schalke came into the Emirates and laid a 2-0 pasting on a feckless Arsenal. Now the out-of-form Gunners have to travel to one of the most intimidating stadia in Europe to try to return the favor.
Schalke 04 vs. Arsenal
UCL Group B Round 4
Kickoff: Tuesday, November 6, 2:45 PM EDT
Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Ruhr Valley, Germany
Form: Sch DWWWL | Ars LLWWL
TV: foxsoccer.tv (subscription required)
So much has happened since Schalke 04 came to the Emirates on Wednesday, October 24, and proceeded to play Arsenal out of the building on their way to a 2-0 win in Group B of the Champions League. Arsenal eked a victory against QPR and then lolled to a 7-5 triumph in Reading, before Manchester United put the brakes on all the fun. Schalke appeared to gain vigor from their away win in London, but they hit a bit of a rough patch themselves last weekend against sixth-from-bottom TSG Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, losing 3-2. So both teams are looking for something to get themselves going again.
The squad situations for both sides haven't changed too much; in fact, Schalke could put out the exact same lineup they used last time against Arsenal; it seemed to work pretty well. Arsenal have had Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna return to the squad since the reverse fixture, and one should expect to see both of them tomorrow, especially given that Wilshere will be sitting out the next Premier League engagement due to his red card from Old Trafford. Andre Santos will start at left back, and Thomas Vermaelen will start alongside him at center-half; this was the weak spot against which Schalke pounded like so many German hammers two weeks ago. Expect that to be the prevailing tactic again, with Jefferson Farfan trying to get behind Santos to run onto through balls.
Arsenal will need to figure out a way to close things up, or it could be a long match. The question is whether they roll out Lukas Podolski again, a man who has looked completely lost at sea for a couple of weeks now. They don't have anyone else available who can play on the left aside from Santi Cazorla; could Wenger get radical and put Cazorla on the left, moving Arteta up and putting Francis Coquelin alongside Jack Wilshere, perhaps?
Or will it be the standard projected lineup:
Sagna - Mertesacker - Vermaelen - Santos
Wilshere - Arteta
Walcott - Giroud - Podolski
Remains to be seen.
Match prediction: Terror. Panic. Death. Life. Schalke's supporters scare the crud out of everyone; Arsenal lose 3-1, and only three days later is Carl Jenkinson found living in a shanty on the banks of the Ruhr, muttering something to himself about Richard Burton and carrots while warming his hands over a burning trash barrel in a drizzle.