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Slow starters getting into gear

Published: Tuesday 30 September 2003, 11.07CET
Group B rivals FC Lokomotiv Moskva and Arsenal FC are both looking to bounce back from Matchday 1 defeats.

Tournament statistics

Lokomotiv MoskvaArsenal

Goals scored9
 
16
Attempts on target32
 
71
Attempts off target42
 
60
Corners28
 
55
Offsides23
 
33
Fouls committed160
 
165
Yellow cards16
 
8
Red cards2
 
0

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Published: Tuesday 30 September 2003, 11.07CET

Slow starters getting into gear

Group B rivals FC Lokomotiv Moskva and Arsenal FC are both looking to bounce back from Matchday 1 defeats.

FC Lokomotiv Moskva coach Yuri Semin is in no doubt that his side have a tremendous challenge when Arsenal FC visit the Russian champions.

Opening losses
Both teams lost their opening Group B encounters - Lokomotiv 2-0 at FC Dynamo Kyiv, Arsenal 3-0 at home to Internazionale FC - but Semin believes his team's experienced opponents are unlikely to falter again. "Arsenal are the favourites of our group. Just after the draw I said the same and I am not going to change my words."

Arsenal danger
He added: "Arsenal look like they could do very well because of their quick, sophisticated football. It is only the beginning of the tournament and every team can lose their first game."

'In good health'
As for his own team, Semin said: "All our players are in good health except Maksim Buznikin [with a leg injury] and Winston Parks, who has a long-term [knee] injury. But it is a problem to find a replacement for Jacob Lekcetho who is suspended."

Warm-up victories
Lokomotiv themselves warmed up with a 2-0 win against FC Spartak-Alania Vladikavkaz on Thursday and now sit third in the Russian Premier League - while a day later Arsenal FC edged to a 3-2 victory at home to Newcastle United FC and lead the English Premiership.

Injury problems
More worrying for the visitors, though, is an injury crisis that rules out Patrick Vieira, with a thigh muscle strain, and ankle-sprain victim Fredrik Ljungberg, both injuries picked up against Newcastle. Dennis Bergkamp is out due to his fear of flying while Sol Campbell stays in England after the recent death of his father disrupted his training. However, defenders Ashley Cole and Martin Keown have both been passed fit.

Wenger upbeat
Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger insists his team can pick up only their second Champions League win in eleven attempts - and wipe out the memory of their last visit to this city, a 4-1 loss to FC Spartak Moskva in 2000/01, as he prepares to restore winger Robert Pires to the team along with Edu in place on Vieira.

Good away record
"I have seen it many times, when we have had our backs to the wall we have responded well," Wenger said on Monday. "There will be another response like that tomorrow. We need to get something out of this game after our disastrous start against Inter. Whether the game is in Russia or not, we want to get something out of our away games and our record in these away games in Europe has been quite good in recent years."

'Never predictable'
Wenger added: "Sometimes in football it is strange because you can go into the first couple of weeks in September with no injuries and then suddenly you get three or four of them. It is never predictable." As for Campbell, he said: "Sol is back in full training now but he is a bit short physically still and also a bit down."

Last updated: 30/09/03 12.08CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2003/matches/round=1712/match=1056816/prematch/preview/index.html#slow+starters+getting+into+gear

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