Arsenal v Auxerre
Arsenal have a won all three of their games without conceding a goal, and have at times been simply sensational, particularly during the 4-0 demolition of PSV Eindhoven.
Auxerre, on the other hand, have only one point and one goal to their credit in this year’s competition. They must win in England to have any chance of progressing, but hopes are certainly not high.
“Only a miracle could carry us into the second round and we must first worry about reaching the UEFA Cup,” admits Auxerre coach Guy Roux.
Both teams lay second in their respective domestic leagues, but both come into the match having lost at the weekend. Auxerre were soundly thumped 3-0 by Lyon and Arsenal’s glorious ten month unbeaten run in the Premiership finally came to an end at the hands of Everton, and England’s newest superstar Wayne Rooney.
The game will also mark the return of Arsenal’s French winger Robert Pires, whose superb form on the Gunner’s left wing was cut short by a knee injury that forced him to miss the World Cup and ultimately has kept him out for seven months.
Arsene Wenger has revealed that Pires will play some part, although a place on the bench is probable.
Dennis Bergkamp (achilles) and Francis Jeffers (stomach bug) have been ruled out however, and lingering doubts remain over Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Sol Campbell, who all suffered knocks at Everton. Longer-term casualties Ray Parlour and Martin Keown remain unavailable.
Star striker Djibril Cisse is definitely ruled out for Auxerre, who also have injury doubts over striker recent French debutant Olivier Kapo and Finnish midfield anchorman Teemu Tainio, but both are expected to play. Khalilou Fadiga, the man most likely to break Arsenal down, returns from suspension. The French are also likely to include Zimbabwean forward Benjamin Mwaruwari, top scorer in France presently and reportedly attracting interest from Juventus.
Arsenal triumphed 1-0 in Auxerre at the beginning of the month, and it is hard to see any other outcome than another Gunners victory on Tuesday.
“We’ll bounce back, don’t worry,” said Wenger ominously after Saturday’s defeat.
“My players are hurt but they will respond on Tuesday night.”
Probable line ups:
Arsenal: Seaman, Lauren, Cygan, Campbell, Cole, Ljungberg, Gilberto, Vieira, Wiltord, Kanu, Henry.
Auxerre: Cool, Jaures, Boumsong, Mexes, Radet, Tainio, Lachuer, Fadiga, Kapo, Faye, Mwaruwari.
Borussia Dortmund v PSV Eindhoven
Key defender Christoph Metzelder has been ruled out for the next three games after breaking his nose during Dortmund’s disappointing 0-0 stalemate with Arminia Bielefeld at the weekend – a game they needed to win to make up ground on runaway leaders Bayern Munich.
Although Dortmund had won their last five games going into the Bielefeld clash, coach Matthias Sammer has already made it clear he expects a good performance tonight, demanding a “strong reaction” to the lacklustre stalemate of the side’s last outing.
PSV coach Guus Hiddink is also expecting an improvement after his side was knocked off top spot of the Eridivise this weekend. Like Dortmund, PSV were held to a goal-less draw, and they must win tonight to keep their fading qualification hopes alive.
The all important top two spots could be confirmed for Arsenal and Dortmund tonight, so long as the Germans see off PSV while relying on the Gunners beating Auxerre.
The Dutch are currently in the middle of an injury crisis, and are tonight without 18-year-old Brazilian starlet Leandro, Remco van der Schaaf, defender Andre Ooijer and Dutch international Wilfred Bouma.
But the man PSV are likely to miss the most is temperamental but talented frontman Pierre Van Hooijdonk, who is out for a month. Arnold Bruggink, himself not certain to make the start, is next in line to partner the highly gifted Yugoslav Mateja Kezman.
Influential midfielder Kevin Hofland is expected to return.
As well as Metzelder, Dortmund also have doubts over Brazilian striker Amoruso who recently returned to the fold after missing three months through injury. He persuaded Sammer to start him on Saturday, and turned in a disappointing performance. However, with thenews that Brazil national coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has vacated his job, the ex-Parma frontrunner has expressed a desire to represent his country in the 2006 World Cup.
“Fortunately, Luiz Felipe Scolari isn’t the coach of the national team any more, so there could be a chance now for me to return to the squad,” he said, adding that the competition could be his “last chance to play in the national team.” Eyes will be on Amoruso and tonight could provide the perfect opportunity to deliver.
Dortmund: Lehmann , Evanilson, Woerns, Madouni, Dede, Frings, Kehl/Reuter, Ricken/Heinrich, Rosicky, Ewerthon, Koller.
PSV : Waterreus, Bogelund, Faber, Hofland, Heintze, Rommedahl, Van Bommel, Vogel, Robben, Bruggink, Kezman.