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PSV prepared for 'special game'

Published: Wednesday 24 November 2004, 11.08CET
Arsenal FC face a PSV Eindhoven side who are one win from reaching the knockout rounds for the first time.

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Published: Wednesday 24 November 2004, 11.08CET

PSV prepared for 'special game'

Arsenal FC face a PSV Eindhoven side who are one win from reaching the knockout rounds for the first time.

By Jules Marshall in Eindhoven

A record European crowd of 35,100 is expected at the sold-out Philips stadium when faltering English title-holders Arsenal FC meet a PSV Eindhoven side who are one win from progressing past the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time.

Arsenal struggle
Arsenal have just one win in four Group E games - against PSV on Matchday 1 thanks to an own goal - and find themselves unexpectedly challenged by Panathinaikos FC. The Greek team are a point behind Arsenal, who are three adrift of leaders PSV.

'Special games'
"This is what it is all about - the special games," said PSV coach Guus Hiddink, whose side will be through regardless of their result here if Panathinaikos lose at Rosenborg BK. "It is fantastic to see all the work we have put in the last year paying off. It would be wonderful to wrap things up."

Wenger's perspective
Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has seen his team concede the Premiership lead as well as drawing their last three Champions League matches - having led in all three. But the Frenchman is not worried, saying: "We have still only lost one game all season. If we panic, the whole of Europe should panic! I have complete confidence in my players; I always expect a lot from them and I'm never disappointed. Over the next two games I am sure we will show that we have learned a lot and are good enough to play at the very top level."

Defensive virtues
They will have their work cut out against a PSV side who have not conceded a goal in 900 minutes of domestic football, and only two overall in Europe. "Whereas at Highbury we managed to control them for much of the game, we did not have the power to harm them," said Hiddink. "My hope for PSV is that we are more balanced this time. We have players who can cause them concerns and we will try and hit them where they are vulnerable."

No relaxation
However, he warned: "Despite their relatively poor spell, you cannot expect Arsenal to fold. They are always in a position to hurt you with their individual performances. They never panic, they are skilful and the players are not attacking each other despite their recent problems. You can never relax against them, they are always a danger."

Psychological edge
Wenger also has respect for the opposition. "PSV are a good side," he said. "But we have had good results away from home and will not feel handicapped playing here." But he believes Arsenal's 4-0 win here two years ago gives his players a psychological edge. "It will be on the mind of the PSV players because they know we can come here and beat them."

Sibon in
Hiddink will be without striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink who tore a ligament in his shoulder against SBV Vitesse on Sunday and will be out until 2005. His substitute, Gerald Sibon, scored one and made the other in PSV's 2-0 win and could start against Arsenal.

Bergkamp stays put
Arsenal have Brazilians Edu and Gilberto injured and Dennis Bergkamp forgoes his usual car trip having damaged his achilles tendon. Defender Sol Campbell may make a comeback from a calf problem, though. "He is physically ready to play, and it's a boost that he could travel with us," said Wenger. "We need his defensive and organisational skills at the back, but I'm not sure yet if he will play."

Last updated: 24/11/04 16.01CET