2006-12-04

Arsenal to face Porto without Henry

In a really important game, Porto and Arsenal can guarantee a place in the Champions League knockout stage with a draw. The Group G match will take place at the Dragao Stadium.

But it's important to consider that a victory for one of them could eliminate the other if CSKA Moscow beat Hamburg SV, who have lost all five games, in the other match in the group.

In fact, if Porto draw with Arsenal and CSKA win, all three teams will have 11 points and the Russians will be eliminated by virtue of a worst goal difference in games among the three.

The Gunners will be without their talismanic striker and captain Thierry Henry. The Frenchman, suspended after picking up his third yellow card of the tournament against Hamburg two weeks ago, would not have played anyway as he is nursing a neck injury which has led to sciatic nerve problems which are likely to sideline him for at least 30 days.

Arsenal will also be without midfielder Tomas Rosicky after the Czech midfielder was injured in Saturday's 3-0 win over arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur, which boosted morale in the squad after two successive away defeats in the Premier League.

With Wenger's side also playing Chelsea next Sunday, manager Arsene Wenger has described this as the most important week of their season and Brazilian midfielder Gilberto, who scored two penalties against Spurs, says the squad are ready to respond.

"We know that this week is decisive for our future in the Premier League and the Champions League. We did our job against Spurs, but need to continue with Wednesday's very difficult game against Porto. We must come back with a result."

We must remember that Arsenal beat Porto 2-0 in London in September and would become the first English side to beat the 2004 European champions away if they win.