Defeat would spell European disaster for Arsenal FC as they face FC Dynamo Kyiv in London.
By Trevor Haylett in London
Arsenal FC reach the point of no return on Wednesday as far as their UEFA Champions League chances are concerned.
Moment of truth
After three Group B matches in which they have lost twice and taken only one point, the onus falls on the English side to raise their game at Highbury in the return against FC Dynamo Kyiv. Otherwise they will be left to reflect on another disappointing European campaign.
Arsenal's position at the foot of the section, five points behind Dynamo and Internazionale FC, is incongruous given that they lead the Premiership after a run of eleven unbeaten games. Nonetheless, manager Arsène Wenger maintains his team's Champions League results have not been a true reflection of their performances. "I feel we got a minimum of what we deserved," he said. "I think we have been unlucky in nearly every game.
"We know what is at stake - the important thing is to win and it is important not to feel under pressure too much," he added. "I am completely relaxed and it is important the players are as well. If they just focus on the quality of our performance that's the best way to deal with nerves."
Defensive mistakes cost Arsenal in Kiev two weeks ago while their own lack of goals has been a concern, with Thierry Henry's late reply against Dynamo the only goal of their campaign so far. Henry was on target again at the weekend as the Gunners beat Leeds United AFC 4-1 but Wenger, who reported no fresh injuries yet is still without Patrick Vieira, denies he has come to rely too heavily on the forward. "The team depends on the team performance. When the team performs well, Thierry has more chances to score," he said.
Wenger is confident they can produce when it matters most, saying: "Let's turn it round and the team will still have a bright future in the Champions League." To do that, though, Arsenal will have to reverse recent trends. Mystifyingly they have failed to win any of their last eight Champions League matches and any of their last six at home.
Attack, attack, attack
Still, Dynamo coach Oleksiy Mykhaylychenko does not expect Arsenal to switch from their usual attacking approach at Highbury. "We know how Arsenal play at home," he said. "They never play second, and by that I mean that they never play the second role at Highbury."
Mykhaylychenko has had to rule out experienced defender Yuriy Dmytrulin, who suffered a severe chest injury in the first game, and midfield players Florin Cernat and Aleksandr Khatskevich. But full-back Andriy Nesmachniy should start.
The coach hopes the Matchday 3 victory will be the stepping stone that helps his team qualify for the next stage, but he insisted "the pressure" was the only similarity with the fixture a fortnight ago. "There is no doubt the strategy from both sides will be different. On the other hand I hope that the result will be the same. The most important thing is the result."