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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Arsenal vs Sparta Prague

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Arsenal can book a place in the last 16 of the Champions League with victory over Sparta Prague at Highbury on Wednesday (November 2).

The Gunners recent Premiership exploits have been something of a circus, with botched penalty attempts and an away defeat to lowly West Bromwich Albion all part of the repertoire. However, they have been somewhat more convincing in Europe, and currently sit top of Group B, five points ahead of nearest challengers Ajax.

Arsene Wenger’s men saw off the threat of Sparta in Prague a fortnight ago, and there is little to suggest that a victory can not be obtained here in the return fixture. That night, Thierry Henry returned from his long injury absence to score both goals in a 2-0 win after Jose Antonio Reyes suffered a rib injury.

Once again the fitness or otherwise of the French star is the main concern for Wenger. The striker missed the 1-1 draw with Spurs at the weekend, but is hopeful of a return to action here. Henry has scored 31 times in 60 Champions League appearances, with only Raul of Real Madrid and Manchester United’s Ruud Van Nistelrooy having found the net more often in the competition. Despite recent gossip about his future lying elsewhere, Henry remains Arsenal’s key man if they are to mount a serious challenge for the European title this term.

Freddie Ljungberg is a doubt after the Swedish international limped out of the north London derby and missed training on Tuesday (November 1).


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