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Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Arsenal: match preview

Kickoff: 3:45 PM EDT

Arsenal travel to Donetsk and the shiny Donbass Arena to face Shakhtar Donetsk in the fourth group stage match of this year's Champions League.  Arsenal do not have the best history in the Ukraine in European play, but they also did not have a good record in Serbia before this year, and that match turned out well, Arsenal winning 3-1.

With a victory tomorrow, Arsenal would have 12 points from 12, which all but mathematically assures them of finishing top in the group (the Gunners' goal difference currently stands at 12, while Shakhtar's is 0, in second place).  Arsène Wenger has stated that Shakhtar should be a lot stronger in their home stadium, and even if they lose tomorrow, it still seems almost assured that they will be the other team to emerge from Group H.

A loss tomorrow wouldn't be catastrophic for Arsenal, as they would still be first in the group on goal difference (unless the Coal Miners contrive to win 13-0), but it would mean that there would be some work to be done in Braga and in London.  Not entirely helping matters, though, is the fact that Arsenal's midfield looks to be a bit depleted after the win on Saturday.  Wenger has ruled out Cesc Fabregas for the trip, the Spaniard's hamstring still a little "reluctant", as he put it.  Alex Song and Denilson both face tests before tomorrow, and may not travel, the former with a calf issue and the latter with a groin issue.  Holding mid, thus, is a bit of an issue.

In addition to those two, Andrei Arshavin is also facing a test.

Jack Wilshere is available, however, and there are no other new injuries to report.  Assuming the worst, re: injuries:


Sagna/Eboue            Squillaci             Koscielny          Clichy

Rosicky         Wilshere


Walcott            Chamakh            Vela?  Bendtner?