September 2nd 2010
Armenia are a very tough team to beat, especially at home and they are looking for a bright start to the European Championship 2012 qualifiers. Having been so close to qualifying for the World Cup, Republic of Ireland are eager to make things right this time and in order to do so they will have to win this game.
Armenia have recently started recording decent results at both international and club level, and they certainly cannot be considered an easy opponent for any of the sides in Group B. The team were placed into a very difficult group for the World Cup qualifiers but they still managed to pick up four points, with the home win over Belgium the highlight of their campaign. Armenia, nevertheless, lost at home to Bosnia, Spain and Turkey, while picking up just one point against Estonia, and that proves they are definitely beatable at home. The team mostly consist from domestic based players, although Artak Dashyan and Henrik Mkhitaryan ply their trade in Ukrainian side Metalurg Donetsk. The hosts are aware they are the underdogs in this match and they are expected to adopt a defensive approach, while waiting for their chance to hit the visitors on the break.
Everyone knows how Republic of Ireland missed out on the World Cup but it is now time for the new campaign and a good start is a must if the Irish are to have any chance of making it to the final tournament. Boss Giovanni Trapattoni can count on virtually unchanged squad from the last qualifying campaign and that must be a good thing since the Italian have already created a good system that produces results. The fact that Ireland finished the World Cup qualifiers unbeaten speaks volumes about Trap’s work with the squad and the Irish are expected to keep up with good performances. This team were never a force to be reckoned with away from home, but having won in Cyprus and Georgia last term, they’ve certainly got reason for optimism before the trip to Armenia. Robbie Keane and Richard Dunn will be fit to play after shaking off minor knocks, while Paul Green should deputize for the crocked Keith Andrews.
There is no doubt this will be a tight game between two very strong defensive units, but after seeing how well the Irish have done in the World Cup qualifiers under Giovanni Trapattoni, I am tempted to back them here. Armenia are strong at home but they simply lack the quality to match Ireland and I cannot see them getting something from this match.
Verdict: Away win Ireland (2)
Best Odds: 8/11
Bookmaker: Victor Chandler
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