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Arsenal v AZ preview

04 Nov 2009 09:53:02

Arsenal v AZ preview

// A bit of a hack but it works// The article snippet is wrapped onto a second line, even when #article-sub is emptyif( $("div#article-sub").children().length == 0 ) {$("div#article-sub").remove();} Arsenal will be determined to avoid any slip-ups in their bid to seal progression to the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League. The Gunners looked to be cruising to a third straight win in Group H when they met AZ Alkmaar in Holland a fortnight ago, only to be denied by an injury-time strike from David Mendes da Silva. The 1-1 draw left Arsene Wenger's men with seven points and work to do in their remaining games, although they remain in pole position to reach the next round. Qualification for the knockout stage could be secured on Wednesday if Arsenal beat AZ at Emirates Stadium and Olympiakos avoid defeat to Standard Liege in the other group game. The Londoners will certainly be full of confidence after maintaining their fine form with a convincing victory over local rivals Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday. However, Wenger has been rocked by the news that left-back Gael Clichy will be out for around a month with a suspected stress fracture in his back. Nicklas Bendtner is also missing with a groin injury, while Theo Walcott (knee), Denilson (back) and goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski (thigh) remain sidelined. Midfielder Tomas Rosicky does return to the squad after recovering from a knee problem that has kept him out in recent weeks. AZ newsDutch champions AZ will be desperate to pick up three points to get back into contention for a top-two finish after a disappointing start to their group campaign. Having drawn two of their opening three fixtures and lost to Olympiakos, they are currently four points adrift of the Greek side. They have also been inconsistent in the Eredivisie with two defeats in their last three domestic games seeing them slip back to seventh. Manager Ronald Koeman, who has never lost a contest with Wenger, has admitted the trip to Arsenal will be AZ's most difficult game in the group. But Koeman will have almost a fully-fit squad to choose from, with Mounir El Hamdaoui the only absentee.


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