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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Arsenal vs. Steaua

Emirates Stadium

11/12/07

19:45

On Sky

Arsenal V Steaua Bucharest

Arsenal will have to hope that Slavia Prague can beat Sevilla on Wednesday to help the Gunners finish top of their group and avoide the big guns in the first knock out round of the Champions League.

Arsene Wenger's rotation cost Arsenal dear on matchday 5, when the Arsenal manager had to watch his team suffer a 3-1 defeat.

Arsene's right hand man and Arsenal legend Pat Rice will take control of first team affairs for the duration of the match after Arsene Wenger's behaviour saw him sent from the dug out last time out.

With Chelsea visiting Ashburton Grove at the weekend, Arsene Wenger may well be tempted to rest some of his key players.

Six of Arsenal's last 7 games have been played away from home, and it has shown in their results. Winning only three and losing two of those seven games.

It'll be interesting to see who Wenger selects after he revealed Van Persie will return to the squad. That paired with the failure to impress in recent games by Eduardo, could see the Croatia international miss out altogether.

We can expect to see Steaua put in as dogged a performance as they did when Arsenal visited them on match day 2.

Despite Arsenal's recent dip in form, they do still sit top of the Premier League. Steaua, however, can make no such claim. They are currently sitting 4th in their league and trail the leaders by 11 points.

Vital Quotes:

Arsene Wenger admitted that it will be tough for him to find the right balance on Wednesday: 'I’ll try to find the right balance between not losing and keeping a strong team.

I feel we gave up a big advantage, and yes that was partly down to my selection. But I had many players on the edge after the international games and I had to make a choice because I knew we played three times away.

'I should not even have played Fabregas at Sevilla [because] I ended up losing him to injury.'


Steaua Bucharest Gaffer Marius Lacatus warned that although Arsenal will field a weakend team, they will still pose a threat: 'Arsenal may play a weakened team but they'll still have eleven top-class, technical players on the pitch.'

The Romanian went on to speak of how a win on Wednesday would help his team: 'We're slowly improving and a good result in London will give us the confidence we need to take back to Romania.'

Arsenal Team News:

Arsenal will welcome back Robin Van Persie and Abou Diaby from long-term injures on Wednesday.

Van Persie hasn't played for Arsenal since the start of October. He suffered knee ligament damage while playing for Holland.

Diaby has also been missing since suffering injury while on international duty. The French midfielder injured his back in October.

The bad news is that Arsenal's midfield mastermind's - Alex Hleb and Cesc Fabregas, are both missing. The industrious Flamini is also still out.

Van Persie is unlikely to start, so Bendtner could get a chance after impressing during Arsenal's 3-1 defeat at the hands of Sevilla.

Player to watch: Robin Van Persie

This is a massivly important game for Van Persie. It's his first match for over 2 months, so it's vital for him to get a little bit of his sharpness back before Arsenal face Chelsea on Sunday.

I don't expect him to come in and score a hat trick. The most important thing is that he comes though with no reaction from his knee.

Steaua Team News:

Bucharest will be without the suspended Marius Croitoru and injured duo Banel Nicolita and Pawel Golanski for their visit to London.

Player to watch: Nicolae Dica

The Romanian striker showed his class last time the teams met. His pace, passing and shooting will be the biggest threat Arsenal will face on the night.

He'll drop deep to make things happen, so it's important for who ever plays in midfield to pick him up and hand him over to the defence at the right times.

Ref Watch:

Russian Yuri Baskakov will referee the match. I know nothing what so ever about him so I'll just make this sentance go on for a while so that at a glance it will look like I've written something about him that is important. Did it work?

Match Prediction:

0-0 I'm afraid ladies and gents. With an eye on Sunday's match, most of Arsenal's players will be holding back. Van Persie or Bendtner might snatch it, but I can't see it.




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The Journalist

Writer: Nick Simmonett  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday December 11 2007

Time: 9:51PM

Your Comments

I want Barca in the round of 16 so I dont care if we are second in the group. Still a convincing win would be good for confidence before the Chelsea game. Cant see it happening though maybe 1-0 or 2-1 to the Arsenal.
Ozi Gooner
a win + clean sheet is the doctor's prescription...
49ers
Walcott should play a full 90 in this one.
gunnerkid107
Yes I agree 49ers, win and clean sheet. 1:0 or 2:0 if RvP comes back lively. We should win even without some of the first-teamers. I'd like to see the Bendtner/Theo partnership given a chance up front. I think the former's ready to start in competitive matches at home. Theo plays better up front. But the problem is I don't want to see Eboue in RM...
Louisa
im going for a 2-0 with a bendtner goal and one from midfield maybe tommy gun. It may be meainingless on paper, but if you imagine going into the chelsea game having lost here and at boro, then that would be pretty aweful really... stating the obvious i know...
ArsenalRob
personally i would rather concentrate on chelski this weekend. we are already through to knockout stage and meeting a big gun would be good for us cos they will "play" and not sit in defence the whole nite. plus, knocking out a big name would be great for the confidence of our lads.
supersof
Simmo, your negative predictions are rubbing off on the team! This reverse black magic psychology is very much reverse! ;-) It should be a win, not by a large margin, but there are still a lot of quality players there.
Goofle
I'd like to see Dudu given another run. He has always performed well in the CL, and he needs a game to boost his confidence. Bendtner has also deserved a start. Eboue to be dropped from the squad, and Theo to take his place at RW. The target for RVP should be an injury free 20 mins, even if he doesnt score a goal. I will go with a 1-0 win for Arsenal. I dont see Steau troubling Jens too much. But pls pls start Denilson in mid field along with Gilberto.
prits
Also, I think its enough if Slavia manage to hold Seville to a draw, and Arsenal beat Steau, for us to top the group. Both teams would then be equal on 13 pts, while we have a better goal difference.
prits
Yeahh fair enough yah gonna beat em but mate manchester united will win the leauge easy coz when it gets cold your foreighn boys wont be able to handle it ..united all the wayy!!
Jakk-United-2007
that's a load of poop jakk, united fans are starting to become (more) annoying again.
JakeB
DIABY!
JakeB
2-o ! n so far the scoreline at prague reads 0-0..
HENRY`14
Tend to agree with you Goofle getting just a little upset with Simmo match Predictions. I know he does it all the time but it is wearing a bit thin. His overall thoughts are welcome but perhaps keep his match Predictions to himself. Welcome his opinions all the time and background information, So for a while Simmo keep your Match Predictions to yourself.
alwaysgunner
So glad to see RvP, lively and creative, not bad for a first match back! Diaby, Bendtner and Theo looked good too. Hope this'll do the lads' confidence some good before Chelsea.
Louisa
Never want to see eboue wearing an Arsenal shirt again. Sell him to diverpool, chelsea or utd where they encourage his sort of play.
bseymour
Well all I can say Goofle, Alwaysgunner, is that it was a close game in the end. And who got the winner? Bendtner.
simmy8_2000
It was a bit of a repeat of the game against Villa and to a lesser extent, Sunderland. Sublime 1st half, disappointing 2nd. Bendtner was immense, my MOM. Excellent work rate, won almost all his aerial challenges, good 1st touch, and a composed finish for the goal, with his 1st opportunity.
prits
simmy8_2000 as i said no problem with your opinions or your general thoughts, first rate but mate keep the predictions out of it. I know why you do it and perhaps if I was truthful I feel the same way but I hide it deep down inside. Bad karma to keep saying we are going to lose.
alwaysgunner
Never Mind You Go OUT Next Round...................!
horseworrier
Horseworrier you have a strange name - are you from Wales perchance? Could you not spell sheep? :-) Go on the Gunners! Bring on Barcelona!
Cesky
That's not very nice Cescy. I'm Welsh and I don't shag sheep. I only shag leeks and daffodils me, lol! Don't know about Giggsy and Bale though. They might be a bit partial to wooley hole. haha!
flv
Bendtner was great he is far more better than adebayor in the aerial challangers and exceeds him in the work rate altough adebayor posses more pace than bendtner does but i would like to see him start more often,also walcott was very good and i think would be better than eboue to start on the right flank vs. chelsea
princeoflove909
is little dutch sick? where are my match reports?
bootoo
 

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