Champions League First Knockout Round – Second Leg (First Leg: 0-1)
Arsene Wenger will take a risk with the fitness of talismanic striker Thierry Henry when Arsenal face PSV in tonight’s Champions League encounter at the Emirates Stadium.
The club captain returned to training for the first time in two weeks today, and Wenger believes his presence could be crucial as Arsenal look to overcome a 1-0 first-leg deficit against the Dutch champions.
“He can start if I decide to start him,” Wenger said. “There is no risk for his health or his medical problems, just a risk it gets a bit worse after the game. He is vital because he can score you a goal at any moment.”
Wenger knows he needs to get the balance between defence and attack right, and believes this time Arsenal will find a way through what turned out to be a resilient PSV backline in the first leg.
“We have to find solutions by being creative around the box, by the speed of our combinations and by being ruthless,” he said. “We have worked to make more of our set-pieces and I hope we’ll get more out of them on Wednesday.”
Tomas Rosicky and Emmanuel Eboue are the latest casualties for Arsenal while PSV coach Ronald Koeman must also make changes from the first leg after losing defenders Manuel Da Costa and Jan Kromkamp.
Koeman’s options up front are increased by the return of leading scorer Jefferson Farfan and playmaker Ibrahim Afellay.
“If we score it will be very difficult for them but not impossible,” said Koeman. “Arsenal play creative football and could score three times because they have that sort of quality.”
Koeman acknowledged that Henry could be a pivotal figure tonight.
“It’s very important for Arsenal that Henry plays because he’s the face of the team,” Koeman said. “It’s their most important game of the season and in those games you’re willing to take more risks.”
Jens Lehmann; Johan Djourou, Kolo Toure, Williams Gallas, Gaël Clichy; Aleksandr Hleb, Cesc Fabregas, Gilberto, Fredrik Ljungberg; Thierry Henry, Emmanuel Adebayor.
Heurelho Gomes; Jason Culina, Carlos Salcido, Alex, Sun Xiang; Edison Mendez, Timmy Simons, Phillip Cocu, Ibrahim Afellay; Arouna Koné, Jefferson Farfán.