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AZ wary of English opposition

The last time AZ Alkmaar hosted an English team it cost them their long unbeaten European record and they will be on their guard against on-song Arsenal FC, who boast a fine record in the Netherlands.

AZ wary of English opposition
AZ wary of English opposition ©UEFA.com

It was an English team who brought an end to AZ Alkmaar's proud European home record and, as Arsenal FC prepare to visit them in UEFA Champions League Group H, the Dutch titleholders will be anxious to avoid a similar outcome.

• AZ, rocked by R. Standard de Liège's added-time equaliser at home on Matchday 2, are still looking for their first success in the competition having lost 1-0 at Olympiacos FC in their first outing. In contrast, their opponents have sights set on a third successive victory following wins against Standard (3-2) and Olympiacos (2-0).

Previous meetings
• The teams have not met before in an official fixture but Arsenal were the first ever visitors to the DS-Stadium on 4 August 2006. Gilberto scored the first goal at AZ's new home and further strikes from Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie (a penalty) earned the Gunners a 3-0 friendly victory.

Match background
• Of their six previous competitive home games with English sides, AZ were unbeaten before facing Everton FC two seasons ago. They had previously won two and drawn three.

• Arsenal's last visit to the Netherlands in the UEFA Champions League proper ended in a 1-0 defeat at PSV Eindhoven – coached by current AZ boss Ronald Koeman – in the 2006/07 first knockout round first leg en route to a 2-1 aggregate elimination.

• The English side would prefer to remember a 2-0 win at FC Twente in last season's third qualifying round, or a 4-0 win at PSV in the 2002/03 group stage – a victory which remains Arsenal's joint best away result in the UEFA Champions League, group stage to final.

• AZ have lost just once in 34 home games in UEFA club competition, starting a long sequence of unbeaten matches on their home debut in Europe in September 1977. The run carried on through 32 games and 30 years until 20 December 2007 when Everton won 3-2 in the UEFA Cup group stage at the DS-Stadium, which had replaced the Alkmaarderhout in 2006.

• Including their 2-0 win in Glasgow against Celtic FC in the play-offs, Arsène Wenger's side are looking for their third successive away win in Europe's premier club competition.

Team ties
• Arsenal centre-back Thomas Vermaelen and AZ's Gill Swerts, Maarten Martens, Moussa Dembele and Sebastien Pocognoli are team-mates in the Belgian national team.

• Similarly, Stijn Schaars, David Mendes da Silva and Van Persie have played together for the Netherlands in qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

• Vermaelen made his Eredivisie debut for AFC Ajax – whom he left to join Arsenal this summer – on 15 February 2004 under the guidance of current AZ coach Ronald Koeman in an away game against FC Volendam.

• Swerts and Van Persie were team-mates at Feyenoord in 2003/04.

• While at Feyenoord Van Persie enjoyed two wins in three Eredivisie matches against AZ, scoring in a 4-1 Feyenoord away victory in February 2003.

• As children Mounir El Hamdaoui and Van Persie played football together in Rotterdam.

• Facing a team from north London will stir pleasant memories for Koeman, whose extra-time free-kick at Wembley decided the 1992 European Champion Clubs' Cup final in favour of FC Barcelona, the first of the Catalan club's three titles.

• Bacary Sagna was in the AJ Auxerre team beaten 2-0 at AZ in the UEFA Cup group stage on 4 November 2004.

• Andrei Arshavin has also encountered AZ with a former club, appearing in FC Zenit St. Petersburg's 1-1 home draw in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup group stage.