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Griga wary of 'strong' Arsenal

Stanislav Griga is not getting carried away despite a good start to his AC Sparta Praha reign, especially with Arsenal FC arriving tonight.

Positive but not careless
Griga is keen for his players to build on the weekend domestic success against FK Chmel Blšany but will urge them not to be too cavalier. He told uefa.com: "We definitely won't play by parking a bus in our penalty area, but it would be suicide if we play with the same approach as we do against teams from the Czech league."

Weakened Gunners
Another point of significance for Griga is the absence of key players from the Arsenal lineup. Ashley Cole, Fredrik Ljungberg, Aleksandr Hleb and Sol Campbell are all ruled out with injury, while Thierry Henry is unlikely to start after a five-week layoff. Griga said: "It is a bonus for us that Henry is not fit to play. Arsenal are almost unstoppable with him in their lineup. I think they miss him a great deal. And with Sol Campbell in their side, they also have a high-quality defence so it's another bonus that he is injured too and they will miss him."

Domestic form
Arsenal will go into the game on the back of a shock 2-1 defeat against West Bromwich Albion FC but Griga insists he will not read anything into the result. "We are not fooling ourselves," he said. "Arsenal are strong in every position and they have been together for a long time enjoying success with Arsène Wenger's philosophy. It is really hard to talk about any weak points in the Arsenal team."

Performance of a lifetime
Indeed, Griga feels his side will have to sustain an optimum performance throughout the game if they are to secure a victory. He added: "If I am honest, I think we can only succeed against Arsenal if we have a perfect day and if Arsenal have a bad day."

Reyes on his guard
Meanwhile, Arsenal striker José Antonio Reyes is aware that Griga's appointment will have breathed new life into Sparta after they lost their last Group B match to FC Thun. "Changing their coach will probably have given them a morale boost," said Reyes. "Because of the new coach and because we are playing in their stadium, I see this as a hard game. When a club sacks their coach sometimes it is good for the team."

Experience is vital
Reyes is also aware that Sparta's experience could be crucial against a young Arsenal side, and he added: “A lot of Sparta's players are veterans so I am sure they will group together and help their new coach get some good early results. That is not a good sign for us."

Not satisfied with second
And the Spaniard is adamant his side must qualify for the next phase of the competition as group winners. "With just one more victory I think we can say we have our passport for the knockout stages, but we want to make sure we win the group," he declared. "That's why we are desperate to beat Sparta Praha twice and then Ajax. If we do that we will win the group and be seeded for the next round."