Gunners are ready – Song

The Gunners were shell-shocked by their home Premier League defeat

to West Brom on Saturday, where they had trailed 3-0, and now must

look to get their season back on track with a positive result in

one of the most intimidating atmospheres in European football.

Partizan may have come through three rounds of qualifying to reach

the group stages, but the Belgrade side are in good form, with five

wins from six to top their domestic table. Arsenal manager Arsene

Wenger accepts his men produced an abject display against the

Baggies, and knows only 100% focus will get a positive result

tonight. Midfielder Song insists the players are set to deliver.

“Normally we win most games but we have just come here to do our

best because we know in the last few days we have not done very

well,” the Cameroon international said. “We want to show we are

ready.” Wenger has called on his team, which will be without

injured goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, not to let themselves be

distracted from the task in hand. “We realise that we need to be

focused in every single game, produce performances in every single

game and that is what I believe we have learnt from Saturday,” said

the Arsenal boss. The absence of Almunia, who made a number of

errors against the Baggies, opens the door for Fabianski – with the

Pole looking to take his chance with both hands rather than drop

another clanger. Wenger continued: “For Fabianski, it is another

big chance – but you want a goalkeeper or any player to grab the

chance when you get it. “There is only one way to show confidence

in a player and that is to put him on the pitch and give him his

chance.” Stadion FK Partizan will be at boiling point come

kick-off, as ‘The Gravediggers’ look to extend Arsenal’s record of

failing to win away in the Champions League since last September.

The Serbians, though, have something of a chequered history of

crowd trouble and were thrown out of the 2007/08 UEFA Cup for

clashes in a qualifying tie against Zrinjski Mostar – while in

September last year, a Toulouse fan died in hospital after being

injured following violence in a bar ahead of the two sides’ Europa

League tie. Indeed, Partizan went as far as issuing a plea for calm

on their own website, declaring “this is our chance to wipe out

ugly traces of the recent past and we shouldn’t miss this

opportunity.” Wenger, though, is confident the game can pass

without incident. “We are always inside the stadium, so I do not

know what is happening outside, I leave that to UEFA and to the

Serbian authorities. I am sure they will do that very well,” he

said. “Serbia is a traditional football country and I believe it

will be very passionate because they are very passionate football

people.”