Udinese, Arsenal
Theo Walcott's 4th minute goal was the difference between the two sides in the first leg. Reuters

Arsenal will travel to Udine, Italy to face Udinese in the second-leg of the Champions League Qualifier at the Stadio Friuli on Wednesday.

These are very early days in the season, but Arsenal already find themselves facing probably the most defining match of their whole campaign. Much of Arsenal's year clings on the outcome of this match. They've have a 1-0 advantage going into the second leg and they'll hope to add to that and seal a berth in the group stages of the Champions League.

The consequences if Arsenal fail to do so could be dire at best. First of all, a place in the group stages is, reportedly, worth around £30 million. If they don't qualify, they will find it harder to spend the proceeds from the sale of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. Secondly, without a place in the Champions League, Arsenal will find it hard to convince the likes of Eden Hazard and Yann M'Vila among others, to move to the Emirates, especially with time running short before the close of the transfer window.

It is no secret that much depends on Arsenal strengthening their current squad. Without Champions League football, Arsene Wenger, the manager, will find it hard to bring in the quality required to replace Fabregas and Nasri. It is a make-or-break season for Wenger, and without quality replacements, one can't help but feel that Wenger's time at Arsenal will come to an end if he fails to deliver this season.

Naturally, there is a lot riding on this game. Theo Walcott's early goal proved to be the difference between the two sides in the first leg, although Udinese had numerous chances. Despite the win, it wasn't a convincing performance from the Gunners. They struggled to deal with Antonio Di Natale and was frequently exposed at the back when Udinese counter-attacked. The Gunners have to make sure that they plug the holes if they're to secure a favourable result in Italy.

However, Udinese are aware of the dangers Arsenal possess. If Arsenal can secure an away goal, they can be confident of progressing. In fact, the Italian side's boss Francesco Guidolin has warned his players not to take Arsenal lightly, whatever may be their off-field problems.

I do not think there is a crisis at Arsenal - they are used to playing under pressure and have always been able to react to difficult moments, He said. Like I said, we will have to be very good, not make mistakes and try to be sharp.

Much rests on the outcome of this match, and it promises to be an early-season thriller.

Team News

Arsenal will welcome back Robin Van Persie, who was unavailable for the first leg due to suspension, while Emmanuel Frimpong, Alex Song and Gervinho are all available as their suspensions are limited to domestic games.

However, Jack Wilshere has failed to recover from an ankle problem while Laurent Koscielny, Nicklas Bendtner, Abou Diaby, Kieran Gibbs and Sebastien Squillaci all join him on the sidelines with injuries.

Udinese will be without Antonio Floro Flores up front while centre-half Maurizio Domizzi is sidelined with a thigh problem while right-back Dusan Basta is doubtful.


Arsenal will welcome back their captain Robin Van Persie, while domestically suspended players are all available for the tie. Although Udinese will threaten, Arsenal will hold on for a 1-1 draw and cross their first hurdle of the season.