Injury-hit Arsenal to face Partizan in Belgrade

Arsenal will be seeking to overcome a disappointing home loss and a lengthening injury list in the Champions League match against Partizan Belgrade on Tuesday.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger lost goalkeeper Manuel Almunia to an elbow injury on Monday, joining Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Nicklas Bendtner, Thomas Vermaelen and Theo Walcott on the sidelines.

While the team’s 3-2 loss at home to West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Saturday has taken the gloss off its 6-0 win over Braga in its opening Group H game in the Champions League.

Almunia was hurt saving a penalty in the West Brom loss and Lukasz Fabianski will replace him at Partizan’s sold-out Yugoslav Army Stadium in Belgrade.

Almunia was criticized for West Brom’s second goal but Wenger said he would have played against Partizan if not for his injury.

"(The goalkeeper) is always the easy target, the easy scapegoat," Wenger said. "But we win together and we lose together, even if people think he made a mistake on the second goal.

"There will be some changes, that is for sure," Wenger said to play Partizan. "I don’t know yet (how many)."

The goalkeeping position is regarded as a problem area for Wenger, who failed to sign Fulham’s Australian international, Mark Schwarzer, in the offseason.

Fabianski has also come in for criticism at Arsenal, notably for two howlers in a last-16 match against FC Porto in the Champions League last season.

Partizan striker Cleo, a Brazilian who was granted Serbian citizenship last week, has a knee injury but says he won’t "miss the biggest match of my career."

"We are not afraid," Cleo said. "We can beat the Gunners, especially because of their injury problems."

Partizan coach Aleksandar Stanojevic said he will not accept "cowardly play" by his team on Tuesday.

"It’s 11 players against 11," he said. "We should not feel inferior."

Partizan lost its Champions League opener 1-0 against Shakhtar Donetsk, which travels to Portugal to face Braga in the other Group H match.

Braga, a surprise runner-up last season in Portugal, is currently third this season with 11 points – seven behind leader Porto.

Braga hasn’t lost at home for more than a year and will be hoping Shakhtar Donetsk provides an easier clash than Arsenal.

Nigerian left back Elderson Echiejile and Brazilian midfielder Leandro Salino return for Braga after missing the Arsenal match.

Shakhtar will be missing influential former Barcelona defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy and Brazilian playmaker Fernandinho, who are both injured.

"Technically, it is a very strong team where Brazilians set the pace," Shakhtar forward Eduardo said. "Braga has the will to win, but also has one disadvantage: it has never played in the Champions League."