Arsene Wenger is hoping his Arsenal side will put their poor home form behind them and use their Champions League tie with Roma as a springboard for a strong finish to the season.
The Gunners’ 0-0 stalemate with Sunderland on Saturday was their fifth draw in six matches – and fourth game in which they failed to score. Yet Wenger hopes the visit of Roma will bring out the best in his men.
“It is a very important game,” said the Arsenal manager. “At the moment I feel the team is in a period where a big victory can give them the needed lift in confidence. There is a lot of quality coming out of this team, they have developed mentally but are still lacking a bit of spark to really take off. It is down to us now to take the handbrake off and go into the end of the season with complete belief.”
Arsenal have won five of their six previous ties against Italian opposition yet enter this contest undermined by an injury list that includes Emmanuel Adebayor, Eduardo da Silva, Cesc Fabregas, and Theo Walcott. While new signing Andrei Arshavin is cup-tied, Wenger can recall the fit-again Abou Diaby to his midfield and his advice will be to “go for it”.
“Usually the Champions League is more enjoyable and also more difficult – you play more on the edge and if you make a mistake the opponent will take advantage.”
Roma coach Spalletti is undaunted by Arsenal’s 22-match unbeaten European home run and stressed that his players “should use the same approach whether they are playing home or away”.
“We have to have self-belief and be strong, that is important – we have to be confident to face any team, even if it is Arsenal,” he said.
Although Roma have lost just twice in ten games this calendar year, their record in England does not bode well. They have won only one of 12 games here and lost the last five, including a 1-0 defeat across London at Chelsea in October.
“We’ve won against English teams. The character [my players] have shown on several occasions against this kind of opponent gives me confidence that sooner or later we will win here as well.”
The Giallorossi are almost certainly missing injured pair Juan and Mirko Vucinic, while Cicinho and the influential Francesco Totti both failed to complete training on Monday evening.