Champions League Draw Not As Easy As It Might Seem

The one thing many gooners were concerned about before the draw was the distances we might have to travel. Ferguson seems to agree with us on that,

It’s a good draw for us. You always look at the travelling side of it. The only one of any great distance is the trip to Turkey.

From the travelling point of view we don’t have a very good draw. The following image gives a rough idea of the distances we have to travel.

None of our trips is going to be a short hop. Spuds are lucky in this regard as they have to travel to Holland, Germany and Italy.

We are also going to Ukraine early in November. I’m not an expert on the weather there but we do have a history of losing some players around that time as it gets colder. Hopefully, injuries will not be a problem this year. I’m sure we are all sick of them one way or the other.

From a scheduling point of view the draw is not as bad as it could have been. As I’d mentioned in yesterday’s article, we have five away trips immediately after the CL games.

We have a very difficult away game with Chelsea on 3rd October after the first away trip to Belgrade on the 28th of September. The Tuesday – Sunday combination should be helpful and also the fact that we face WBA at home before leaving for Serbia. Hopefully, Arsene will be able to rotate the squad to rest some key players before the big one at the Bridge.

Thankfully, after our longest trip of the group phases to Donetsk we have a home game against Newcastle. That one is a Wednesday – Sunday combination so once again we will benefit if we can rotate the squad a bit.

The final away game in Portugal falls on a Tuesday after a North London Derby (home game) on Sunday and just before the trip to Villa on a Saturday. That means we will play three big games in a period of seven days. If we do well in the first four games then the game against Braga might not be that important and we might be able to play a weaker team.

We also have some big away games following all our home fixtures in the first round. After the home game against the Portuguese side we visit Sunderland. Eduardo’s return to the Emirates will be followed by a trip to the Eastlands for a big one against City. And the home game against Partizan Belgrade will be followed by a trip to Old Trafford. Ideally we should have the group tied up before the final game and that should give us a chance to rest some players before we take on United. Interestingly, United have a Tuesday game and we have a Wednesday one before the battle on Saturday.

I guess some of you might say we should be doing well in most of these games if we want to have title aspirations. I agree with that and I think we can do it as long as we don’t lose too many players. In the last couple of years we’ve really stretched our key players in this period and have ended up short at the business end. I hope Arsene gets the opportunity to spread the work load a bit better this time around.

From a football point of view I think our draw is not as easy as some others and not as tough as a couple of groups.

Groups after the Champions Leage 2010-11 Draw

I think groups A and G will be closely fought, while C and D look like easy ones. Amongst the teams we will face the Ukranians will probably be the toughest, especially in the away game. We cannot take Braga lightly either as they’ve just knocked Sevilla out. I’ve not idea about Partizan.

More importantly, all the stadiums that we will visit are likely to create a hostile atmosphere and we will have to be on top of our game to get results.

Having said that, I’ll be very disappointed if we don’t take 9 points at home and at least 4 from the away games. That should see us top the group. All in all, I think it’s a tricky draw and not as easy as some might suggest mainly because of the travel and fixtures coming after these games. At the same time it could have been much tougher (for instance, visit to Ukraine before the United game) so I’m fairly pleased.

24 Responses to Champions League Draw Not As Easy As It Might Seem

  1. Dhruv says:

    I like the draw. Braga could be tricky.. I imagine they are full of confidence now. Looking forward to group A and G. Pity the powers that be did not put Inter, Real and Spuds in one group/

  2. Alibaba says:

    I was just looking through this myself. Firstly i’m not too worried about Chelsea, not just because we’ll have a decent rest beforehand but because they are weak defensively and i think they’ll get a big shock against us. They haven’t faced anyone who’s a threat yet which makes them look better than they are. Before playing us they’ve got Marseille (Tues) and ManCity (Sat), both of which can do damage but are in no way similar to our style so when they face us they’ll fail.
    To be honest i’m not afraid of any team, we can win against anyone in the PL as long as our heads remain high and injuries dont cripple us.

    I disagree about the traveling though, and i don’t care what red nose says. All destinations are at most 4 hours flight away which is nothing. The players these days just sleep and play fifa all the time anyway. What’s more challenging are the playing conditions and times of year and squad strength because of injuries. I believe our squad strength rivals the best

    • Vermaelen says:

      Frankly, I will have to disagree about travelling. You might not have experienced travel sickness before but I personally have, many times. I will get sick if any journey is more than one hour long and while taking tablets will stop that, it leaves me weak and sleepy, which is no condition to play a football match even if it’s the next day. Surely some of our players also have this problem, if not to the extent that I do, they would still not be as sharp as our opponents, who do not need to travel.

      • Alibaba says:

        Unless your first name is Thomas and you were born on the 14th of Novemeber 1985 then i’m not too bothered. Still i don’t doubt travel sickness can be a pain in the ass but these guys travel by plane even when they play in the north of the country don’t they so they should be used to it. And if anyone does suffer to the extent that they are weakened then they shouldn’t play and someone else should take their place.

      • Vermaelen says:

        All I’m saying is that you shouldn’t under-estimate the effect of such a sickness. After all these years and many trips, I have still not gotten used to it.

        Also, if you’re a footballer and wants to play… then you’ll lie so that you can get onto the pitch; I know that because I have done exactly the same myself, although not for football.

    • desigunner says:

      I think travel makes a difference in a number of ways. If you include the travel to and from the airport and other delays, it easily eats away one or even two days. That means training time is affected significantly. Training during the weak is important, especially because the system we face in the League is often different from the one we face abroad.

      I don’t think it’s juts about 4 hours of flight. That might or might not make a difference. But haven’t we heard Wenger say often that the player will be back late on Thursday or early on Friday so he won’t play on Saturday? It’s a complex issue and we don’t completely understand it.

  3. Alibaba says:

    Also we should try to get the tiny tots match moved to the Saturday. There’s no reason it can’t be except Sky’s personal agenda.

  4. kc says:

    I think we got pretty damn lucky with that draw. Can u imagine if we wouldve drawn Real Madrid and Ajax in the same group?! We we’re one ball away from the Ajax part. Shaktar is the only real competition for us in Group Heaven. Absolutely Love the group Spuds got stuck in. Welcome to the big time tiny tots, now go play Inter and Werder Bremen. HaHa. ‘We are just happy to be here’ is what the spuds rep said after the drawing. Damn right they should relish these group stages since they’ll go no further. I’m happy.

  5. aravindvr says:

    Our draw might look easy on eyes.
    But our away reccords in all these countries are bad…
    Infact it seems we do not have a single victory away in Ukraine,Portugal and Serbia.
    Home games are gonna be cruical…deciders.

    • desigunner says:

      That’s a valid point but not a completely true reflection. For instance we lost to Shakhtar 3-0 in 2000 but by then we’d already won the group, so it wasn’t a full strength team. Even against Porto on one or two occasions we’ve not played a full strength team. Still we have to be careful and play at our best no doubt.

  6. Phil23 says:

    Bremen haven’t looked the same beast without Ozil. I like the groups and am hoping we win our first 4 games to take the pressure off in the last games. Arsenals squad is very strong and I think we could still win the group without even using some of our key players (not that i’m suggesting that). By the way, is Squillaci going to be a starter? I personally never thought about it and just expected him to be backup but there are people saying he will be a starter and I guess he is ahead of Koscielny for France..

    • desigunner says:

      Bremen haven’t been defending too well, have they? Even with a proven player like Mertesacker and a keeper who must be better than ours, eh!

      I doubt Squillaci will start, we’ll have to wait and see. I think his first start will be in the Carling Cup unless we are missing either Kos or Verm for some reason before that.

  7. Filip says:

    I disagree that group G will be closely fought.Maybe you mean Ajax and Auxerre will be fighting for 3rd.I dont think many people care which one will go in Europa League.Real Madrid will be first and Milan-second.It is a no-brainer !
    Arsenal’s group is so easy.It simply cant go wrong.Braga and Partizan are nowhere near as good as our second team.We can underestimate them right away.Braga eliminated Sevilla but I guess you havent watched the game.Sevilla’s goalkeeper,Palop( who has actually been really good in the last 2 years and is one of my favorite goalies ), was so rubbish.He gifted 3 of the 4 goals and the other one was a defensive mistake a pro team shouldnt make.Sevilla barely finished 4th last season.Also, they sold Adriano(to barca) and Squillaci.They are getting worse and worse every season because they have no money.Braga made 5 attacks and score 4 goals.Thats how bad Sevilla was.I am not trying to say Braga is a bad team but Arsenal could beat this Sevilla team by 5 goals.Of course , you can say that Arsenal’s goalkeepers and defenders make the same pathetic mistakes but I dont think it will happen.We can beat Braga with
    chesney,eboue,djourou,squillaci,gibbs,denilson,rosicky,wilshere,vela,chamakh and walcott in portugal.This statement is bold but the difference of quality between Arsenal,Chelsea,Man Utd(maybe not man utd) and Portuguese teams is getting bigger every season.Partizan is light years behind Champions league teams and they will be happy to participate in the competition.Shakhtar obviously have spent a lot of money over the last 5-6 years and we will surely struggle in Ukraine but even if we lose there, we will top the group.
    United’s group is so ridiculously easy.I bet that they can get 10 points even if they play with the reserves.The thing is that the gap between the top 10 teams in europe and the other teams is huge now because of the big money they get from tv rights,shirt sales, sponsors,bigger stadiums, etc.Thats why Arsenal should not worry about the group stage.It is kind of sad that smaller teams cant spring surprises anymore.It is all about the big clubs now.

    • Alibaba says:

      I agree we’ll have no trouble topping the group with relative ease and that’s why I look at these fixtures in relation to our surrounding PL games and what effect this may bring. However, upsets do still happen regularly, as we saw last year with Rubin Kazan for example, but this is due to complacency more than anything so as long as we’re mentally there and stay on our toes we have nothing to worry about.

    • desigunner says:

      I didn’t see the Braga — Sevilla games but I do know that away games won’t be easy. Many small or unknown teams were respectable at home last year.

  8. Stan says:

    Cock-suckers Tottenham get Inter milan and Weder Bremen, lets see hw dey suck those HUGE cocks! NO HOMO! Gunners till i drop!

  9. gunner.cy says:

    stop writing these shit!!!if this is dificult for us then we are not gunners. be more optimistic please

  10. Stan says:

    @By gunner, what do u mean? I dn’t undastand u.

  11. [...] Champions League Draw Not As Easy As It Might Seem The one thing many gooners were concerned about before the draw was the distances we might have to travel. Ferguson [...] [...]

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  14. AC Milan News » Report: Milan to play 4-3-1-2 against Ajax

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