Shakhtar challenge excites Wenger

BY foxsports • November 3, 2010

The Gunners travelled to Ukraine for the Champions League clash without 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 remained at home because of a virus. Despite running out comfortable 5-1 winners at the Emirates Stadium a fortnight ago to take charge of Group H, Wenger is all too aware it will be no easy ride. 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. "Shakhtar are one of the strong sides in Europe, it will be an exciting game, no matter who is not here from our squad," Wenger said. "Shakhtar dominate this league. Certainly they are an unbeatable team here, at least locally - but we have a chance to beat them, so let's try to get the best out of our performance tomorrow." Wenger added: "I felt the game at Emirates was tighter than the score indicates. "The pitch is good for the two teams, who will both attack, so should be a good game. "We can win anywhere in the world, we have done it - we can win everywhere." Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu again lamented the decisions which went against his side at the Emirates Stadium, and tomorrow night hopes for "neutral refereeing" from Swiss official Massimo Busacca, who took charge of the 2009 Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona. Wenger, though, rejected that viewpoint. "They are unfair comments," said the Arsenal manager. "It was a correct game, on both sides. "I know him [Lucescu] well, and so I am quite surprised." Referees have again come under the spotlight in England following the controversial decision by Mark Clattenburg to allow Nani's goal for Manchester United to stand in Saturday's Premier League game with Tottenham at Old Trafford. Wenger accepts pressure within the whole game is now magnified. "The game has become more popular and every single incident is analysed," the Arsenal manager said. "We are all under pressure - the referee like players and managers have to get the decisions right. "I don't think the referee got any specific decisions wrong, it was more a misunderstanding between him and [Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho] Gomes than a wrong decision." Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner is returning to full match 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 tomorrow. Bendtner, though, is up for the challenges ahead. "You want competition, and at a big team like Arsenal, there will always be competition for each place," the 22-year-old said. "As a player you want to play every game but it is up to the manager to pick the starting XI. "All I can do is give my best to get into the team." Bendtner added: "It is going well and we are where we want to be. "The way we have played has been fantastic and if we can keep that up it will be great. "We like to play with each other and like to win games, that is what we try to do. "It brings the best out of all of us." Wenger believes it is only a matter of time before the 6ft 3ins striker is firing on all cylinders again. "Let's not forget he has been out a long time and has worked very hard," the Arsenal manager said of Bendtner. "Now from game to game, he will be better."


share story