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Celtic unfazed by mission improbable

Published: Wednesday 26 August 2009, 8.46CET
Arsenal FC may lead 2-0 but Arsène Wenger has his charges "on the alert" against a visiting Celtic FC side whose manager Tony Mowbray has promised the hosts "an uncomfortable night".
Celtic unfazed by mission improbable
Celtic manager Tony Mowbray speaks on the eve of the play-off second leg at Arsenal ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics


Goals scored5
Attempts on target10
Attempts off target11
Fouls committed22
Yellow cards3
Red cards0
Published: Wednesday 26 August 2009, 8.46CET

Celtic unfazed by mission improbable

Arsenal FC may lead 2-0 but Arsène Wenger has his charges "on the alert" against a visiting Celtic FC side whose manager Tony Mowbray has promised the hosts "an uncomfortable night".

Arsène Wenger has warned his Arsenal FC players to be "on the alert" against a Celtic FC team seeking to repeat their success at FC Dinamo Moskva in the previous round and overturn a first-leg home loss in the deciding instalment of the Anglo-Scottish UEFA Champions League play-off. It may appear a tall order but Celtic boss Tony Mowbray is determined to give the hosts "an uncomfortable night".


Arsène Wenger, Arsenal manager
The target is to win, it's a massive game for us. It's not 'job done', it's 'job to do'. We have done a big part but we have to get over the finishing line. [Celtic] will give us a hard, physical game. They've not got a choice [but to attack], to come and have a go at us. We'll try to put them under pressure, play very high up and win the game. We know from Celtic's game in Moscow [against FC Dinamo Moskva] that we need to be on the alert. We know that for a successful season we need to be strong at the Emirates, that's vital. We can't show any weakness at home as it can have consequences not just for that game but the rest of season.

Tony Mowbray, Celtic manager
It's a difficult task, but we're looking forward to it. It's about cementing a place in the Champions League group stages and we'll try to make it an uncomfortable and hopefully disappointing night for them. We're up against one of best teams and coaches in world football, but I think we gave a good account of ourselves in the first game and I don't think we were over-physical. It's about concentration basically, concentration not to be over-cavalier. We don't have to get back into the tie in the first half. I think us scoring the first goal at any time will give them jitters and put them on the back foot. We must have some caution about the way we play, but we also have to be positive.

Key stats
• After waiting six years for one European away victory, Celtic now need their second in less than a month if they are to snatch a group-stage berth from Arsenal. The Gunners' 2-0 first-leg success in Glasgow, courtesy of William Gallas's deflected goal on 43 minutes and a Gary Caldwell own goal after 71 minutes, has put Wenger's side on course for a 12th successive appearance in the UEFA Champions League proper.

• The Londoners have successfully retained the advantage on the last eight occasions they took a first-leg lead in a UEFA Champions League tie (including qualifying). You have to go back to 2001 for their last defeat – when they beat Valencia CF 2-1 at home in the quarter-finals but exited the competition on away goals after a 1-0 loss in Spain.

• Celtic, European champions in 1967, have made six appearances in the UEFA Champions League group stage, progressing via the qualifying rounds on three occasions. They last missed out on the group stage after losing to FC Artmedia Petržalka in the 2005/06 second qualifying round.

• While Arsenal have never before welcomed Scottish opponents to London, Celtic have made eight previous visits to England and their record south of the border is W3 D2 L3. Celtic's last two competitive trips to England brought defeats at Manchester United FC in the UEFA Champions League group stage – 3-0 in October 2008 and 3-2 in September 2006.

How they reached the play-offs
• Arsenal enter the fray at this stage courtesy of their fourth-placed finish in the Premier League last season. The Gunners have contested eleven consecutive group stages, earning an automatic spot each time until 2006/07, when they defeated NK Dinamo Zagreb in qualifying. They then progressed past AC Sparta Praha in 2007/08 and FC Twente last term.

• Runners-up in the 2008/09 Scottish Premier League, Celtic owe their place in the play-off round to Georgios Samaras's last-gasp strike at Dinamo Moskva, Scott McDonald having struck at the end of the first half as Celtic recorded a 2-0 victory following their 1-0 reverse in the opener. It was Celtic's first away win in Europe in 23 matches.

Team news
Out: Cesc Fàbregas (hamstring), Tomáš Rosický (hamstring, Theo Walcott (back), Łukasz Fabiański (knee), Samir Nasri (broken leg) and Johan Djourou (knee)
Suspended: none
Misses next match if booked: Gaël Clichy

Out: none
Doubtful: Barry Robson (groin), Stephen McManus (knee)
Suspended: Landry N'Guémo
Misses next match if booked: Daniel Fox, Andreas Hinkel, Chris Killen, Glenn Loovens

Weekend results
22/08/09 Arsenal 4-1 Portsmouth FC (English Premier League)
(Diaby 18, 21, Gallas 51, Ramsey 68; Kaboul 37)

22/08/09 Celtic 5-2 Saint Johnstone FC (Scottish Premier League)
(Fortuné 21, 54, Maloney 28, 53, McDonald 74; Samuel 36, Morris 76)

Did you know?
Celtic's most recent competitive victories in England came at Blackburn Rovers FC and Liverpool FC, both 2-0 wins on their run to the 2002/03 UEFA Cup final.

Last updated: 26/08/09 21.13CET