It won’t be as easy this time, says Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger has warned Arsenal should not expect to simply hand Shakhtar Donetsk another European masterclass at their Donbass Arena fortress tonight as the Gunners look to cement a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Arsenal will be without talismanic captain Cesc Fabregas — who is protecting a slight hamstring strain — as well as fellow injured midfielders Alex Song and Denilson, while Russian winger Andrey Arshavin also remained at home because of a virus.
Despite running out comfortable 5-1 winners at Emirates Stadium a fortnight ago to take charge of Group H, Wenger is all too aware tonight's return encounter in Ukraine will be a whole new ball game.
Since losing in north London, Shakhtar have won their three domestic matches without conceding a goal.
The Miners have kept clean sheets from nine of their 10 home games this season, and lost just two of the last 30 matches in all competitions.
“I will remind the players Shakhtar is a strong side that we perhaps caught on a good day for us at Emirates,” said Wenger.
“They will have been hurt by what happened, and at home they will be a completely different team.
“If you let them get into a flow, they can cause you many problems.
“We will make sure we are well aware of that.
“Certainly we will face a team who will be up for it.”
Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner is returning to full fitness following a groin injury.
Theo Walcott, himself just back from ankle ligament damage, is likely to start alongside Marouane Chamakh in the Arsenal attack tonight, while England teenager Jack Wilshere, who has now served a three-match domestic ban, will return to midfield.