By Nick Teale
Three years ago Arsenal travelled to the Netherlands to take on AZ Alkmaar in a friendly match to mark the opening of the DSB Stadium. Three years on, AZ are making their UEFA Champions League debut.
After losing to Olympiacos and conceding a stoppage-time equaliser at home to Standard Liege, the Dutch side are still vying for their first win in the competition.
Financial problems off the field have overshadowed the squad's preparations for this match, but having only lost one European home game in their history, AZ could prove a tricky side for Arsène Wenger's team to overcome.
To find out a little more about the Eredivisie champions, we caught up with De Telegraaf chief sports writer Jaap De Groot.
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
"AZ's preparation has been overshadowed by the bankruptcy of their owner [Dirk Scheringa]. Last night the stadium and the training ground were repossessed. So you can understand under what circumstances the team have been preparing themselves for the game. In the heads of the players something will happen, but you can only conclude after the game if it was in a positive or negative. I think the fans and the players will be very, very focused, so Arsenal should be prepared for a very emotional football match. In what way the emotions will direct the team, we will see after the 90 minutes."
THE STORY SO FAR
"They lost away to Olympiacos 1-0 and at home they drew 1-1 against Standard Liege. We saw in both games that they were by far the better team but they were very naïve. In Olympiacos they should have led far before they went behind and with Standard Liege they should have won the game well before the end of the game; 3-0 would not have been an unfair score. But in stoppage time they conceded a goal."
THE MAN IN CHARGE
"Last year when Louis van Gaal was the manager they didn’t get a very good press because they played very much on the counter-attack. When they brought in Ronald Koeman, I think one of the orders they gave him was to play more attacking football. By winning the league last year, people accepted the results because it was a surprise; especially because of the way they performed the year before when they didn't qualify for European football. This year they said we have to get results, but also play more attacking football. That change in style has caused them problems in the league so they’re still learning."
"What we could expect is a team that is so focused on putting down a statement towards to situation at the club that it doesn't matter who they are playing. I expect to see a fighting force and especially in the first 20 minutes they will try to put the tone on the game. If Arsenal can control it and hit back, you can see the game going the other way and Alkmaar could be slaughtered. If they get a little bit of luck, it could be a surprising night."