Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Monday October 22 2007
Arsenal will take a massive step towards qualication on Tuesday if they can over come Slavia Prague at home.
The Gunners have made a great start to their Champions League campaign, beating Sevilla 3-0 at home, followed by a 1-0 away win against Steaua Bucharest.
That has left Arsenal sitting top of their group with two home games still to play. Arsene Wenger will hope that his team have the group tied up before they visit Spain to face Sevilla on match day five.
Wenger will also be hoping his side can make it twelve wins on the bounce before they face Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.
With two massive games coming up it's likely that Arsene Wenger will rotate his team. Fabregas, Toure, Flamini and Hleb could all be rested.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger warned his players about becoming complaicent when they face Slaiva: 'It's a typical, tricky tie,' Wenger said.
'We could think that, because we beat Sparta Prague, we'll beat Slavia too. But the Champions League doesn't work like that. We needed to dig deep to beat Steaua.
Slavia also beat Steaua and they scored two goals at Sevilla. This is another good mental test.'
The Arsenal manager also claimed that his side have learnt a big lesson after exiting the Champions League in the first knock out round last season: 'The PSV game must serve as a big warning. You never have easy games in this competition.
But we've learned from our mistakes and I feel our teamwork is better.
'Before, we conceded a lot from counterattacks and set-pieces but now we're stronger in defence.'
Slavia coach Karel Jarolim claims that everyone is beatable, even Arsenal: 'Arsenal are one of the best teams in Europe but we won't commit the same mistakes we made in Sevilla.
Our players must be at the top of their games and we must play as a team, both in defence and attack. Everyone is beatable – even Arsenal.
They're the favourites to win the group but there's no reason why we can't create a small miracle.'
Arsenal will be without injured Duno Phillipe Senderos and Robin van Persie for the visit of Slavia Prague.
Tomas Rosicky will continue his comeback from injury after making his return against Bolton at the weekend.
As I mentioned, Wenger is likey to rest players with one eye on the Liverpool game. Theo Walcott could make his first Champions League start for Arsenal, and get a rare game playing int the middle.
The 18-year-old striker showed what he can do when he came on against Bolton.
Some have doubted his talents in recent months, but I'm delighted to say that I'm not one of them.
His and power make him an opponent to be feared. It's just a matter of time before he gets the recognition that his talent deserves.
I'm not going to tip him to get his first Champions League goal, it'll probably jinx him!
Former Liverpool Vladimer Smicer did not travel with the visiting team. Nor have Dusan Svento, Petr Janda, Martin Latka and Erich Brabec.
Midfield duo Daniel Pudil and Michal Svec should both return after recovering from injury.
The Czech international has made a fine start to the season for Prague. He scored a brace at the weekend to take his tally to seven for the season.
He'll play up front on his own, so will need support from midfield, but either way he will pose a threat to Arsenal's goal.
If Arsenal win they will be just two wins away from setting a new club record for consecutive victories.
Those two games are Liverpool and Manchester United.
This season is Arsenal's 10th consecutive in the Champions League.
This is Slavia's debut season in the Champions League.
Slavia Prague are only the second team to feature in the Champions League.
If Adebayor is booked he will miss the trip to Prague.
It'll not be an easy game for Arsenal, and with everyone thinking about Liverpool at the weekend I'm going to opt for a draw.
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Date:Monday October 22 2007
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The State Of Play (Sunday October 19 2014)
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