Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, Anderlecht
23 October 2014, 18:45 GMT
Arsenal visit Belgium to face Anderlecht in their third Champions League clash in the group stage.
Anderlecht have only gained one point in the Champions League so far when they drew against Turkish side Galatasaray. The club has very little chance of progression as they are placed in a tough group alongside Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund. The focus for the Belgian champions will be to finish above Galatasaray and head to the Europa League.
Meanwhile, Arsenal have had a mixed start to their campaign, losing their first game against Borussia Dortmund and winning their second against Galatasaray. Finishing above Dortmund seems like a tough task for the Gunners. But Arsene Wenger’s team should aim for just that and try to win rest of the four games in the group stage.
Anderlecht have only won 2 points in eight Champions League games and it will be an uphill task for the Belgian side to gain anything against Arsenal. Anderlecht reached the round of 16 in 2000/01 and have since then have finished bottom of their group seven times.
If Anderlecht wish to extend their campaign beyond the group stage, a home win against Arsenal should do them a lot of good. While the odds of a home win are pretty low, the Belgian club can take advantage of Arsenal’s injury problems and their worrying domestic form. Both Anderlecht and Arsenal have drawn 5 out of 11 and 8 league games respectively and Anderlecht manager Besnik Hasi believes both sides find themselves in a similar position.
“We find it difficult to win, and that worries me,” Hasi told Sporza website. “Wednesday against Arsenal expectations are high. They are doing the same as us but hopefully we can boost our level a bit.”
The hosts will be without French midfielder Fabric N’Sakala because of a knee injury. On a positive note, defender Anthony Vanden Borre may be able to play some part after playing an hour for Belgium’s under-21s last week, having been sidelined with a calf injury suffered at the World Cup. Steven Defour is expected to be Anderlecht’s main attacking threat.
Predicted Line-Up: Proto; Vanden Borre, Mbemba, Heylen, Deschacht; Defour, Tielemans; Najar, Praet, Suarez; Mitrovic
Arsenal are in the group stage of the Champions League for the 17 consecutive season, but have failed to go beyond the round of 16 for the last four years. In order to get a better chance of going past the round of 16, Arsenal should aim for finishing on top in the group.
Arsenal’s current form should be a matter of great concern for its supporters. The Gunners brigade have only managed two victories in the Premier League and the recent draw against Hull City has left them 11 points behind league leaders Chelsea. Arsene Wenger has had very little luck with injuries so far this season and keeper David Ospina is the latest addition to the list of casualties. Wojciech Szczesny is suspended for the game, leaving 22-year-old rookie Emiliano Martinez the only choice between the sticks. However, Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey are fully fit and will be available for selection on Tuesday.
Despite the injuries, midfielder Flamini says there are no excuses for a mediocre start to the season.
“We’re having injuries but we don’t want to hide behind any excuses,” said Flamini. “We’re facing the truth – we didn’t win on Saturday and we’ll try to find a solution for the next games.”
Predicted Line-Up: Martinez; Monreal, Mertesacker, Chambers, Gibbs; Flamini, Ramsey, Wilshere; Sanchez, Cazorla; Welbeck
Player to watch out for
The Chilean winger has been in tremendous form and his performance against Hull City was the one of the very few positives for Arsenal. The former Barcelona player will be looking to exploit the Anderlecht defence creating chances aplenty and converting a chance or two himself.
Anderlecht 1-2 Arsenal
Arsenal are expected to win the tie, but it will not be easy for Wenger’s side. Arsenal are struggling with the absences of key players and Anderlecht will be looking to use that to their advantage.