Udinese V Arsenal: 5 Things the Gunners Should Be Scared of in Italy
The qualifying road to the Champions League is not one that Arsenal is accustomed to. Nevertheless the Gunners found themselves tied up with Italian fourth-place getter's Udinese. The first leg ended in favor of Arsenal 1-0. However Udinese put up a fantastic fight and were unlucky not to grab a goal on the night.
Now it is over to the second leg in Italy. Udinese cannot afford to concede at the Stadio Friuli, however will be welcomed by what is tipped to be a sold out stadium. Here are five things the Gunners will have to overcome to leave Italy qualified for Europe's pinnacle competition.
Antonio Di Natale
Arsenal are sitting pretty up 1-0 in the first half of the first leg. Udinese win a seemingly harmless free kick around 35 yards out from goal. Sczesny organizes his defence to deal with a crossed in ball. Out of no where, Di Natale curls a ball to hit the crossbar. The shot had beaten the Arsenal goalkeeper, even fooling his own teammates. Just one example of Di Natale's attacking talent. Arsenal will want to cover the Italian if they want any chance of securing their 1-0 victory.
Di Natale top scoring in the Serie A with 28 goals last season. There is no doubt he will make himself heard on the pitch.
In the last two league games Arsenal has had a player sent off. First incident was of course the infamous Joey Barton and Gervinho "fight" —you can call it that. Then was the sending off of young gun Frimpong against Liverpool after two yellow card offences.
With the Italians being "notorious" divers Arsenal will have to be on their best behavior, especially around the penalty area. A sending off could prove disastrous in the defence of their one-goal league. And do not forget bookings do carry over to the group stages of the Champions League.
Arsenal love to keep possession, and to some extent it has been their saving grace this year. However, they will front an equally as packed midfield with Udinese. All in all between the two squads there will be 10 men playing a midfield role.
Seeing as though keeping possession is one of Arsenal's strengths, Udinese may just attack one of the Gunners' key weapons in their search for a Champions League spot. Expect to see Asamoah and Pizzi to dictate Udinese's play.
Whilst the Emirates is a great sporting ground and Arsenal's fans are amongst the most passionate in the world, nothing could prepare the Gunners for the hostile reception they will receive in Italy.
It is likely the Stadio Friuli will be sold out for the Champions League clash and any Arsenal fans brave enough to make the trip sectioned off from the Udinese faithful. With the club looking to make the Champions League for the second time ever, the night may just prove historic.
With many of Arsenal's young Gunners have not yet been exposed to such crowds, they may just take the pitch shaken. Home ground advantage for Udinese.
Who doesn't love to have a laugh by reading a few great quotes from Tuttosport or Corriere dello Sport? The truth is that the Italian media are among the most hassling in the world. They all seem to get behind their Italian teams when they face foreign opponents. So expect every single little rumour to be accentuated, every breakfast, lunch and dinner to be reported on. No story will be left uncovered.
Once again the younger players of the Arsenal squad will venture into unforeseen territory. Rather than be wrapped up in cotton wool by their public relation managers and agents, they will be put on the Italian stage.