Ahead of the Group B Champions League clash against Schalke 04 Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna has insisted his belief that the club can finish at the top of the group. Arsenal have been in poor form recently and the 2-0 defeat against Schalke at The Emirates a fortnight ago was a part of that string of results.
The French international has not featured in the Champions League since Arsenal were dumped out of the competition by AC Milan last season is expected to start the fixture in Gelsenkirchen as Arsene Wenger finally gets the opportunity to rest Carl Jenkinson for an extended period.
Schalke have some injury problems to consider after Greek centre back Kyriakos Papadopoulos has been suffering with a head injury that meant he could not head the ball during training. Fellow defensive option Christoph Metzelder is definitely absent with a hamstring problem but the German side have no more major injury worries ahead of the game. They also lost at the weekend; 3-2 against Hoffenheim.
Schalke’s head coach Huub Stevens played his cards very close to his chest ahead of the fixture. He stated the loss against Hoffenheim would not have a serious impact on the squad and suggestions that he could swap around the formation of the team in regard to the loss were batted away during his pre-match press conference.
While Aaron Ramsey is definitely out of contention for the fixture after picking up a groin strain Theo Walcott is once again a doubt after picking up another illness. The England international fell ill on Sunday night with a stomach bug and faces a race against time to be fit for the fixture. Arsene Wenger did however hint that Jack Wilshere was likely to start.
"I think I will play him. Then we have a block of three games and maybe the fact that he gets a period of recovering will be just right for him. He gets better in every game."
In other news away from the game tonight Reading are reportedly interested in signing Arsenal misfit Andrey Arshavin in January. The Berkshire clubs Russian owner Anton Zingarevich admits he is a player they are looking into pursuing among a number of others. If he did switch to the Madejski Stadium it would see him team up with Russian compatriot and former Zenit St Petersburg team-mate Pavel Pogrebnyak.
And Arsene Wenger has hit back at claims he is freezing Theo Walcott out at the club amid his current contract situation. The England international has been linked with numerous clubs as his current deal expires this summer but Wenger maintains that his relationship with the player is absolutely fine.
What are your thoughts on everything and anything happening at Arsenal FC and predictions for the fixture with Schalke this evening?
image: © achimh