As with Arsenal’s game against West Ham, this game is an easy one for Arsenal – at least on paper.
That will surely not be the case though as the Gunners are set for a cold night in Eastern Europe. The fact that Arsenal will be without as many as EIGHT first team players for the Champions League game.
Italian Massimo Pedrazzini took over from Gheorghe Hagi after Steaua lost to Slavia Prague on matchday one. Since then the Romanian’s have won their first league game for over a month.
The Romanians have won 2 of their last 5 games in all competitions. One in the league, one in the cup.
Arsenal have won all of ther last 5 games. Infact Arsene Wenger’s team have won all but 1 of their games this season.
Not bad for a team that were apparently skint and in crisis a couple of months ago.
Steaua Bucharest striker Adrian Neaga is hoping his team can match Arsenal on the night, and even observed that Arsenal players are only human: ‘Arsenal’s players are human beings, like us.
Of course they are a very strong team, but we don’t consider ourselves underdogs.
Steaua are a member of football’s elite and we will play like equals against our visitors from England.’
Arsene Wenger explain that his attitude towards the Champions League has changed since he arrived at Arsenal: ‘I want this club to win the Champions League but for my personal ego it is less important.
‘I feel a manager should be judged more on his overall career than just winning one trophy.
‘I was interested in that 10 years ago but a lot less now. You want to win it for different reasons. When you are very young you want to win it and say you are the best.
‘When you have more experience you want to achieve it for the players and the club. You then want it less for yourself and to say how good you are.
‘When you are 40 you want to win the biggest one and want everyone to talk about you. But I want to do it for this club because they have never done it.’
Steaua Bucharest Team News:
Lovin and Goion are both missing for the home side. (I’ve not got a clue what LD is on about at the bottom).
Other than that, no important team news.
Player to watch: Nicolae Dica
The Romanian striker was watched by Aston Villa during the summer as they looked to spend some of their Billionaire owner’s cash.
They opted instead for Marlon Harewood.
That’s not to say that he wont pose a threat. He managed 4 goals in 6 games during last season’s competition.
Arsene Wenger will be well aware of what the striker can do, and I’m certain he’ll have drilled into his defenders to mark him tightly.
Arsenal Team News:
The quartet of Jens Lehmann (elbow), William Gallas (groin), Rosicky (hamstring) and Eduardo (groin) are all out while Hleb, Adebayor, Diaby and new-found midfield general Flamini all face late fitness tests.
Wenger hinted that he might move Theo Walcott up front to partner Robin Van Persie.
Player to watch: Gilberto Silva
With Arsenal having so many injuries, Gilberto will be given a chance to show what he can do.
With his place, and potentially his Arsenal future at stake, he’ll be wanting to impress Arsene Wenger to force his way back into the team.
I wouldn’t mind betting he walks away with the man of the match award.
Even worse than Arsenal’s team news is the news that Terje Hauge will referee the game.
For those of you that don’t remember him just cast your minds back to Arsenal’s Champions League game with PSV last season. Enough said!
I’m going to back Arsenal, despite all their injury problems.
It’ll not be an easy game, European nights in eastern Europe never are. But I think the Gunners will come out 2-0 winners. Walcott and Van Persie with the goals.