Arsenal will play Udinese, who finished 4th in Serie A, in the 2-legged playoff round of the Champions League, for a spot in group stages. The first leg, on Tuesday, August 16, will be at the Emirates before Arsenal travel to Udine on Wednesday, August 24, for the second leg.
Udinese were impressive last season, but since then have lost Cristian Zapata to Villarreal, Alexis Sanchez to Barcelona and Gokhan Inler to Napoli. They still have the potential to frustrate Arsenal, though, by playing 3/5 at the back, and playing on the counter. Despite his aging years, Antonio Di Natale has been the top scorer in Serie A the last two seasons, and was also the Italian Footballer of the Year in 2010. Udinese finished joint second top scorers in Italy last season, and the two legs with Arsenal promise to be exciting. Arsenal, who have never lost a 2 legged tie with an Italian side, are favourites but this tie is no formality, especially as Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie are suspended for the first leg (Cheers, Massimo Busacca).