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HUGHTON'S NOTES

Posted on 1 December 2006  - 12:00

Chris Hughton's regular assessment of our forthcoming opponents - next up, the big one against Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday.

Chris Hughton's regular assessment of our forthcoming opponents - next up, the big one against Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday.

ON THEIR day, Arsenal can open you up with the precision of their passing with Fabregas, Gilberto and Henry’s runs and you expect them to have a higher percentage of possession in most of their games because that’s the way they play.

They have changed their system this season to similar to what they did in European games last season with a five-man midfield, Van Persie the link from midfield to the forwards.

You have to be able to match them, even in terms of numbers, because if they have a numerical advantage in certain areas they will use that to their advantage. You mustn’t be overawed, which we haven’t been in recent visits to Arsenal and play with the confidence we’ve had in our games recently.

I think they will start 4-5-1, sometimes going into a 4-4-2. In the full-back positions you’ve got Eboue, he gives them on the right side what they’ve lost with Ashley Cole departing from the left. Centrally, Toure is the consistent player and they’ve had Gallas, who is now injured, Senderos and then Cliche left-back or Flamini.

They’ve changed personnel in midfield with Gilberto, Fabregas, a wonderful passer of the ball, Hleb, who can play on either flank, Rosiky, lots of options in there.

Irrespective of the personnel, they will play a passing game through midfield and - if he's fit - look for Henry’s pace and to thread those balls through to the front. Henry’s been there for a while now and very much entrenced in their system, their captain and aware of what this game means to the club and supporters.

He’s most certainly been our most difficult opponent over the last few years and it gave us a lift when he didn’t start last season. They haven’t enjoyed their normal results at home, teams have gone there and made it uncomfortable for them and that’s another thing that will give us confidence.