The Breakdown

The Breakdown: Arsenal v Red Star preview

Olivier Giroud scores against Red Star

We are back in Europa League action on Thursday night when Red Star Belgrade are the visitors to Emirates Stadium.

Ahead of the game, tactical expert Michael Cox examines our opponents in detail to assess their strengths, dangermen and areas to target.



Vladan Milojevic started out in the Red Star youth academy in the 1980s, and enjoyed a brief spell with them as a player in the mid-1990s. He was appointed as manager this summer, and has steered Red Star to the top of the league.




Expect a 4-2-3-1 system, which will look more like 4-4-1-1 for long periods in the defensive phase of play. Ajax youth product Mitchell Donald is neat and tidy in possession and looks to dictate the tempo, while his partner Nenad Krsticic is more of a box-to-box player.




Arsene Wenger commented upon Red Star’s impressive counter-attacking after the 1-0 win in Belgrade, and they offer plenty of attacking potential in a 4-2-3-1 system. Left winger Nemanja Radonjic becomes a second striker when the ball is on the opposite flank, which means plenty of Red Star’s attacking moves flow through their right winger, Slavoljub Savic, a natural attacking midfielder capable of crossing.




The main goal threat will come from Ghana forward Richmond Boakye, who proved a dangerous all-round threat in the reverse fixture. He hit the bar with a header from a corner in the first half, showed good awareness in dropping off to receive the ball to feet when Red Star had spells of possession, and ran the channels to offer a direct route in behind. He scored the only goal in Red Star’s weekend win, and Arsenal must watch him carefully. 




There’s a potential weakness at left-back, because Milan Rodic was dismissed in Belgrade for two bookable offences. Marko Gobeljic was introduced immediately afterwards to fill that role – and he’d also started there in the 1-0 victory over Cologne. However, he’s right-footed and predominantly plays at right-back or in midfield, so might be uncomfortable if opponents attempt to go down the outside.

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