The lads from Oriel Park face off against the power house that is Premier League side Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium tonight. Dundalk’s new manager Filippo Giovagnoli will be seeking to build on the extraordinary work of former manager Stephen Kenny and the Dundalk team.
During Kenny’s heyday at Oriel Park the Lilywhites changed the way European teams think about Irish teams. Against Zenit St Petersburg, AZ Alkmaar and Maccabi Tel-Aviv, the team produced some sparkling displays.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says that he is studying Giovagnoli. “I wanted to know who he is, what he is trying to do,” the manager said. “It’s a great story. Straight away, he [Giovagnoli] said that he could feel that the players believed in what they were doing which is everything that a coach wants. I think they have created a really good chemistry. You can see how united they are. They will be coming here with an incredible passion,” Arteta added.
Dundalk understands that they are the underdogs of their Europa group but, says Giovagnoli, “Mikel Arteta is an inspiration for us. The style that he wants to implement with Arsenal is completely an inspiration for us, trust me. The way they want to build up, they even did it against Liverpool, one of the teams that press better in the world, they didn’t care, they just wanted to build up from the goal.”
“It’s an attacking style, Giovagnoli continued, but true principles of build up, it’s amazing. Their reaction to losing the ball is amazing. They defend forward and what they try to apply is amazing. You can see what he wants to do and of course it’s going to take time to consolidate the style he wants to apply but he’s in the right way to do it.”
Drawing inspiration from their loftier opponents won’t be enough to cause an upset at the Emirates tonight. It’s expected that Giavgnoli an inspirational strategist has a canny gameplan up his sleeve.
Meanwhile, former Bohemians, Shamrock Rovers and Derry City manager Roddy Collins had a few words to say to Irish football fans. Speaking in a video posted online by Irishify, the titan of Irish football said “I’m after been out all day having a ramble around town. I met a couple of fellas in Arsenal jerseys, two Dubs, one from Offaly and then there was one from up around Dundalk. So I got talking, Arsenal supporters yeah, having the craic, everything’s great. They said ‘We’re getting the cans in Thursday night to watch Arsenal play Dundalk’. I said ‘lovely so you are supporting our own’.”
The former manager continued, “They said ‘no, we’re going to sit down with our Arsenal jerseys’. I thought to myself you can’t be for real. You have to support your own. To all you plastic Irishmen wearing Arsenal jerseys, on Thursday night I’m going to sit down with my wife and there’s only going to be own jersey for me. Come on the Town.”
Good luck to the Irish boys in white tonight from all at Nova.ie!