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Auxerre aim to end Gunners' run

Published: Tuesday 1 October 2002, 20.00CET
Who can stop Arsenal FC's 23-match unbeaten run? AJ Auxerre have promised to try.

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Published: Tuesday 1 October 2002, 20.00CET

Auxerre aim to end Gunners' run

Who can stop Arsenal FC's 23-match unbeaten run? AJ Auxerre have promised to try.

By Pavle Gognidze

French side AJ Auxerre will be looking to end Arsenal FC's impressive 23-match unbeaten run when the sides meet in the UEFA Champions League Group A encounter at the Abbé Deschamps stadium on Wednesday.

Imperious Gunners
The English Premiership side have looked imperious in Europe so far this season, topping the group with two victories – the latest being a 4-0 win at PSV Eindhoven last week. In contrast Auxerre have only one point from their opening two games, and their Champions League adventure could effectively end with back-to-back games against the Gunners.

League toppers
However, Auxerre can point to their recent domestic form, which is just as inspiring as that of the English side. After going top of Ligue 1 following a 4-1 win at Nantes Atlantique FC, midfield player Khalilou Fadiga believes Auxerre are more than capable of springing a surprise. "It's not a good moment for any team to face us," he said. "Arsenal will have to be wary – we're improving with each game and we really need a victory."

'Best team in Europe'
Coach Guy Roux is slightly more pragmatic in his assessment and is in no doubt that the north London side are the dominant force at present. "Arsenal are the best team in Europe," he said. "They are clearly ahead of us - [BV Borussia] Dortmund and Eindhoven are closer to our level. We are going to have to work hard to cut down their quick exchanges."

Injuries mount
Roux will once again be deprived of the services of French international striker Djibril Cissé, who has been sidelined since 15 September with a cracked bone in his left foot, while midfield player Lionel Mathis also misses out with a shoulder injury. Defenders Johan Radet and Jean-Alain Boumsong, and striker Olivier Kapo face late fitness tests.

Flying high
Roux's opposite number, Arsène Wenger, is flying high at the moment after seeing his side set a new English goalscoring record in their 4-1 league win at Leeds United AFC at the weekend. Arsenal have now found the net in 47 consecutive games, beating the old record set by Chesterfield FC.

Trio missing
Dennis Bergkamp, Martin Keown and Ray Parlour have all been ruled out of the trip. Keown and Parlour have hamstring problems while the Dutch striker continues to recover from an achilles injury. However, Brazilian midfield player Edu has been recalled to the squad following injury and Swedish international Fredrik Ljungberg is set to start after being rested at the weekend.

Last updated: 02/10/02 21.55CET