• Schalke v Arsenal, Champions League

Arsenal bid to avoid double trouble in Germany

ESPN staff
November 6, 2012
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar gave the Arsenal defence nightmares in Schalke's first meeting with the Gunners © PA Photos

Schalke midfielder Lewis Holtby has warned his side they cannot switch off for a minute against Arsenal on Tuesday night even though he concedes Arsene Wenger's men may not be in the best of form.

Schalke's 2-0 win at Emirates Stadium last month saw them climb to the top of Group B, a point clear of second-placed Arsenal with three games left to play.

That loss was one of three the Gunners have suffered in their last five competitive matches, while in the other two matches they scraped a late 1-0 home league win over lowly QPR before claiming a 7-5 cup victory over Reading in a clash that saw them trail 4-0 at one stage.

Despite that, Holtby knows Schalke cannot afford to treat their opponents lightly. "They have not been great but they are a great team, they know how to play,'' the Germany international said.

"They have a good young team, a quality team and we are prepared. We have got to be focused, we have to focus on our game for 90 minutes plus added time. We should show them we are at home. We have 55,000 people behind us and it should be a great game.''

Wenger, meanwhile, still has faith in his team and does not believe the recent slump means they are now bad players. "I believe I have a team of great players and at the moment they have forgotten it a little bit how good they are,'' he said.

"What is most important is that we play again with our enthusiasm, desire to create chances and enjoy our game, more than about do we concede a goal or not? That is the most important thing.''

Looking ahead to Tuesday's clash, the Frenchman added: "Firstly Schalke is a very good team - you can see that in their league position. They are a very tight team but we have learned from that.

"We did not have a lot of chances against them and we have got to switch better from defence to attack. Obviously it is disappointing for us when we don't have a lot of chances. Lately maybe we have been a little bit flat.''

Wenger will be without a number of important players, with Aaron Ramsey the latest to join a long Arsenal injury list. The Wales international sustained a groin injury in Saturday's defeat at Manchester United, while Theo Walcott is a doubt due to illness.

Schalke could be without Kyriakos Papadopoulos due to a head injury that meant he could not head the ball in training on Sunday while fellow defender Christoph Metzelder is definitely out with a hamstring injury.

Manager Huub Stevens revealed he plans to shake up his team to keep it fresh, although denied it was as a direct response to their 3-2 defeat at the hands of Hoffenheim on Saturday.

Schalke player to watch: With Liverpool strongly linked to the Dutchman, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will be wanting to show yet again that he has what it takes to score against top English sides. The forward's movement caused Arsenal all sorts of problems in north London, where he could have had a hat-trick.

Arsenal player to watch: Andre Santos is fast becoming one of the most maligned players of Wenger's reign. Woefully short in defence, Santos has offered little in an attacking sense to excuse his obvious shortcomings, and his decision to ask to swap shirts with Robin van Persie at half-time against Manchester United did not go down well with the fans.

Betting: Arsenal have lacked fight, imagination and defensive quality of late, so take Schalke to win both halves at 4/1 with bet365.

Prediction: 3-0

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