Arsenal Tula v Zenit St. Petersburg

By on August 2, 2014

Arsenal Tula face probably the toughest possible team in their first ever Russian Premier League appearance as last season’s runners up will be looking to get off to a flying start in their bid to win the title this year.

Arsenal Tula have been on a great journey in the past two years. Back in 2012 they were drafted in the Russian 2nd Division and played their first season in the 2nd Division in 2012-13. At the end of the last season, they finished 2nd in the Division ultimately earning promotion to the Russion Premier League and will feature, for the first time ever, in the top flight this season. Coach Dmitri Alenichev was delighted with the team’s progress to the 1st division and will be looking to start with a bang. However, Zenit St. Petersburg is hardly the team that a newly promoted side would like to face on the opening day as they are one of the toughest sides in the Russian Premier League. But Arsenal Tula will be playing in front of their home supporters and the fans will be excited to watch their team play in the top flight and with their backing, Alenichev’s side might try to cause an upset on the opening day. They will be one of the most unpredictable sides in the league this season as they have not played in the Premier League before and that might work in their advantage. The players must try not to get too overwhelmed by the occassion and follow their manager’s guidelines to the point if they are to get something from this one. A draw will please the fans as well as the players and that might be what Arsenal set out to acheive.

Alenichev will start with a flat  five midfield and they will set out to frustrate Zenit St. Petersburg and try to catch them on the counter. If they players can stay sharp and fulfil their defensive responsibilites, they might very well cause an upset as Zenit themselves have been known to get complacent when they are frustrated.

Zenit St. Petersburg lost out on the Russian Premier League title last season finishing 2nd and much of it was down to their poor start to the last campaign. Boss Andre Villas-Boas will be looking to start this campaing on a higher note than last one to gain a foothold in the league table and establish themselves as title contenders. They have a squad that can cause problems for any side in the world but their main problem is their lack of consistency. They tend to be too wreckless at the start of the season and end up paying for it. Villas-Boas must make sure that his side are totally focused ahead of this game, above anything else and can grind out a result in this game. They face an Arsenal side who are playing in their first ever Russian Premier League campaign and the lack of experience that Alenichev’s side possess might play in favour of Villas-Boas. They are definitely the favorites for this game and anything short of a win will be considered a bad result.

Zenit St. Petersburg will face AEL Limassol in the Champion’s League Qualifier 3rd Round 2nd Leg on 6th August. They trail AEL Limassol by one goal from the 1st leg and have to grind out a result in that game as well. The 2nd leg will be played at home in Russia and Villas-Boas will have one eye on that game as well and it might effect his team selection. However, his squad has adequate depth and he will surely work something out. The team’s main focus would be to put this game to bed as early as possible by scoring two or three goals so the coach can rest his key players ahead of the Champon’s League Qualifier.

Arsenal Tula will be without Yevgeni who is out with an injury. Arsenal have made a few signings before the start of this campaign and the manager but it will not change Alenichev’s team philosophy and he might be tempted to start with his regular players from last season, in this game.

Zenit St. Petersburg will be without Egor Baburin who is out with an injury. Nicolas Lombaerts and new signing Ezequiel Garay are however doubtful for this game but may feature if they are declared fit in time. Rondon will be the lone striker up front with Hulk, Danny and Shatov playing behind him.

DATE: August 2, 2014


VENUE: Arsenal Stadium, Tula, Russia

REFEREE: Nikolayev

Arsenal Tula (4-5-1):- Filimonov; Lozenkov, Yershov, Kaleshin, Vasilyev; Ignatyev, Kascelan, Lyakh, Ryzhkov, Votinov; Kutjin
Zenit St. Petersburg (4-2-3-1):- Lodygin; Criscito, Lombaerts, Garay, Smolnikov; Witsel, Fayzulin; Shatov, Danny, Hulk; Rondon


Arsenal Tula:- N/A
Zenit St. Petersburg:- L

AUTHOR’s PREDICTION: Arsenal Tula 0-3 Zenit St. Petersburg

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