Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Tuesday December 11 2007
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.
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 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.
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.
Bucharest will be without the suspended Marius Croitoru and injured duo Banel Nicolita and Pawel Golanski for their visit to London.
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.
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?
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.
Date:Tuesday December 11 2007
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