AS Roma coach Luciano Spalletti says he will delay naming a starting lineup for the visit of Arsenal FC until the last moment after being hit by injuries while Arsène Wenger promises the Gunners will not sit on their 1-0 lead.
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AS Roma coach Luciano Spalletti says he will delay naming a starting lineup for the UEFA Champions League encounter with Arsenal FC until the last moment after being hit by injuries.
The Giallorossi, who must overcome a 1-0 deficit at the Stadio Olimpico, will give late tests to midfielders Alberto Aquilani and David Pizarro due to ankle and thigh problems as well as to striker Francesco Totti – knee – and goalkeeper Doni, who limped out of training on Tuesday. Centre-half Philippe Mexès also missed the session because of flu. Definitely out are Marco Cassetti, Simone Perrotta, the suspended Daniele De Rossi and Cicinho, who tore a cruciate knee ligament in training on Sunday. "We have to analyse the situation tomorrow [Wednesday] to see who is fit," Spalletti told reporters. "It's possible the game will go into extra time and I have to take that into account when making a final decision."
Although Spalletti refused to give hints as to his first XI, he does promise a transformed display from the one Roma gave two weeks ago in London, where they were lucky to escape with a one-goal reverse. "It will be different this time – we've got the fans behind us," he said, referring to the 65,000 expected to pack the Olimpico, which will also stage the 27 May final. "We need personality. We need a result. But I have faith in the boys. They've always given their best in big games."
Arsenal's main threat, according to the 50-year-old coach, will come from the wings. "I know them pretty well," added Spalletti, who guided Roma to the quarter-finals in each of the last two seasons. "They are technically good and dynamic on the flanks. We have to stop them reaching our area quickly. They have players coming back from injury and [Theo] Walcott's incredible pace could cause us damage." The Giallorossi were held 1-1 by Udinese Calcio on Saturday.
Walcott made his first Arsenal appearance since dislocating a shoulder nearly four months ago in Sunday's 3-0 FA Cup defeat of Burnley FC, replacing Eduardo da Silva who had scored with a superb volley to confirm his recovery from a horrific leg break. Manager Arsène Wenger, whose squad's flight to Rome was delayed by a technical hitch, told uefa.com: "It's fantastic the way Eduardo has played. It's nearly a miracle".
Like Roma, Arsenal have run into form of late. They are unbeaten in 17 games and, although that sequence includes four straight goalless Premier League draws, they appear to have found their range with Nicklas Bendtner and Eduardo contending for a starting slot alongside Robin van Persie, scorer of the first-leg winner. A shutout would be enough yet Wenger says that is not Arsenal's style. "I don't think that's the way to behave going into a game like this, as it's too dangerous," he added. "The positive thing about our home result is that we didn't concede a goal, and we didn't score enough to think we just have to defend. What is very important for us is to focus on scoring and going forward, because they are a team who are very good going forward."