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Emmanuel Eboué is expecting FC Shakhtar Donetsk to present Arsenal FC with their biggest test in the UEFA Champions League so far this season, citing the visitors' abundance of South American talent as the principal threat to the Gunners' place at the Group H summit.
Arsène Wenger's team lead Shakhtar on goal difference in the section, the clubs having both defeated SC Braga and FK Partizan in their first two matches. Unlike Arsenal, however, who are five points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea FC, Shakhtar are setting a fearsome domestic pace courtesy of 11 wins from 13 matches. Indeed, of the Pitmen's 25 top-flight goals, 15 have been scored by the six Brazilians among their midfield and forward ranks.
"We know Shakhtar and are aware they have some good Brazilian players," said Eboué, who is likely to continue at right-back in the absence of the injured Bacary Sagna. "They've played very well in their two games – against Braga and Partizan – and won, like we have. We need to be careful because they have good players. This morning we talked about it. It will be very difficult but not only for us, for both teams."
The size of the visitors' task could yet become greater if Wenger decides to restore Cesc Fàbregas and Theo Walcott to midfield. The pair have not played since suffering hamstring and ankle injuries respectively last month but trained with the rest of their team-mates on Tuesday, much to Eboué's relief in light of an absentee list which also contains Laurent Koscielny, Thomas Vermaelen, Robin van Persie and Aaron Ramsey.
"For us it's very important to get our captain and Theo Walcott back because they're important players for us," explained the 27-year-old. "Of course, we have missed them a lot. They will give us something more because we've got some players who are injured at the moment."
Should Eboué retain his place in defence, he is likely to encounter former team-mate Eduardo. The Croatian international striker left north London for Shakhtar in the summer after scoring eight goals in 41 league appearances during a three-year stay which was interrupted when he suffered a broken leg in February 2008.
Eduardo is still our brother and we love him a lot because he was great when he was here," added Eboué. "I respect him, like all the players do, and we are so happy for him to be coming back to play here."
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