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Wenger wants Gunners firing

Published: Wednesday 29 August 2007, 1.01CET
Arsenal FC may be defending a 2-0 lead at home to AC Sparta Praha on Wednesday but manager Arsène Wenger wants his side to attack from the very start.
by Paul Saffer & Ladislav Josef
Wenger wants Gunners firing
Sparta captain Tomáš Řepka (left) hopes to be fit to face Robin van Persie and company ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

ArsenalSparta Praha

Goals scored5
 
0
Attempts on target5
 
0
Attempts off target0
 
0
Corners0
 
0
Offsides0
 
0
Fouls committed0
 
0
Yellow cards4
 
5
Red cards0
 
0
 
Published: Wednesday 29 August 2007, 1.01CET

Wenger wants Gunners firing

Arsenal FC may be defending a 2-0 lead at home to AC Sparta Praha on Wednesday but manager Arsène Wenger wants his side to attack from the very start.

Arsenal FC may be defending a 2-0 lead in Wednesday's UEFA Champions League third qualifying round second leg against AC Sparta Praha, but manager Arsène Wenger wants his side to attack from the off.

'Start well'
Late goals from Cesc Fabregas and Aleksandr Hleb put Arsenal in control of the tie a fortnight ago in the Czech Republic, yet before Wenger contemplates a tenth successive group stage campaign he is demanding a performance from his team. "The first game was difficult and we were lacking a bit in the first half," he said. "We also waited until the last seconds to score a second goal. Sparta are a dominant side in the Czech championship. We have to start well in our home games."

Defensive concerns
Wenger's main injury concerns are in defence with Bacary Sagna having damaged his back in Saturday's 1-0 defeat of Manchester City FC to join William Gallas (groin), right-back Emmanuel Eboué (ankle) and goalkeeper Jens Lehmann (achilles) on the sidelines. Manuel Almunia, who started in Lehmann's place at the weekend, will continue in goal while centre-back Philippe Senderos is available having pulled out of the City fixture when he hurt his ankle in the warm-up.

Injured veterans
For Sparta, captain Tomáš Řepka and playmaker Pavel Horváth are both looking to battle through the pain to play. Despite a knee problem, 33-year-old defender Řepka is eager to feature in London having spent five seasons in the English capital with West Ham United FC, while the 32-year-old Horváth is putting a groin operation on hold until the tie concludes.

Limited ambitions
Coach Michal Bílek is well aware that his side's chances of achieving an upset are slender but he is keen for Sparta to do themselves justice after being caught napping for Arsenal's goals in Prague. He said: "We want to do more than just turn up. We will fight to get the best result possible and must avoid the kind of slip-ups that decided the first leg."

Lucky break
Having seen some of Arsenal's domestic games this season, Bílek says there are reasons to feel hopeful about Wednesday's match. "They were lucky to beat Fulham [FC 2-1 on 12 August] in the Premier League," he said. "They will be without a few players, but [Emmanuel] Adebayor is back which means the attack will be stronger. They won't underestimate us. A sold-out stadium will keep them focused."

Last updated: 29/08/07 22.04CET

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