Kick-off: 19:45 (BST)
Massimo Pedrazzini has called on his Steaua Bucharest players to “put their hearts and souls” into their meeting with Arsenal, as he tries to avoind getting the sack.
The 49-year-old Italian was appointed caretaker coach two weeks ago after Gheorghe Hagi stood down, and he has since presided over a draw and two wins. However, Pedrazzini has been informed by club president Gigi Becali that he will be sacked if his side lose tonight.
“Everybody will say we’re the underdogs but no matter how tough the opposition, matches always start at 0-0,” he said. “We have to show self-confidence because we’re not just here to make up the numbers. People who achieve big things become a part of football history, and we’ll have to put our hearts and souls into the game if we want a victory.”
“I don’t think Arsenal have any weak points,” Pedrazzini continued. “Arsène Wenger can select a team exclusively from quality players … but they can still be beaten. To achieve that, we have to be clever and take our chances.”
Wenger has injury concerns ahead of tonight’s game with Aleksandr Hleb rated 50-50 after injuring his knee in the 1-0 win over West Ham, while Emmanuel Adebayor (thigh), Mathieu Flamini (groin) and Abou Diaby (ankle) all face late fitness tests along with Steaua pair Dorin Goian and Florin Lovin.
“We are the favourites but we also have to be humble,” said Wenger. “I’ve heard Steaua have some problems but sometimes when you play such teams they don’t have any problems at all. It will not be our intention to exploit their weaknesses but to play our best and win. Usually ten points is enough to qualify but this group is unpredictable. We would like to qualify as quickly as possible but first we want to continue our positive run.”