Arsenal's chance to reassert supremacy

One point clear at the top of Group H, Arsenal FC's record against visitors from the Netherlands is not as formidable as it is against other nations but their game with AZ Alkmaar offers an opportunity to redress the balance.

Arsenal's chance to reassert supremacy
Arsenal's chance to reassert supremacy ©

Arsenal FC's record against visitors from the Netherlands is in need of improvement and Arsène Wenger's side will be hoping to make positive strides on Matchday 4 as they welcome AZ Alkmaar to their home.

• The north London club looked set to take a firm grip on Group H in the reverse fixture on Matchday 3 when Cesc Fàbregas gave them a 36th-minute lead, only for David Mendes da Silva to volley an equaliser in the third minute of added time. The draw leaves Arsenal on seven points, one clear of Olympiacos FC and five above third-placed AZ.

Match background
• The game at the DS-Stadium was the teams' first-ever meeting.

• In seven competitive home games against Dutch opposition, Arsenal have only posted two victories. Four of the fixtures finished all-square with their only defeat coming in the first meeting – a European Champion Clubs' Cup quarter-final in 1971/72 when AFC Ajax won 1-0 at Highbury to complete a 3-1 aggregate triumph.

• AZ have lost all four previous games in England, conceding 12 goals. The most recent reverse was a 4-2 loss at Newcastle United FC in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup round of 16.

• After their 2-0 victory against Olympiacos on Matchday 2, Arsenal are looking for another long run of unbeaten home games in the competition. Their 3-1 home defeat by Manchester United FC in last season's semi-finals was the first time the Gunners had lost on their own territory in 24 matches in the competition proper, a run which stretched back to April 2004.

• It was also their first UEFA Champions League defeat at the Arsenal Stadium in 18 matches there, including qualifiers. Twelve of the first 17 ended in home wins.

Team ties
• AZ's Ronald Koeman is unbeaten as a coach against Arsenal, guiding Ajax to 1-1 home and 0-0 away draws against Wenger's Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League second group stage in February 2003.

• As PSV Eindhoven coach Koeman did even better against Arsenal, eliminating them in the 2006/07 first knockout round with a 1-0 home win followed by a 1-1 draw in London.

• The trip to north London will also 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.

• 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, the visitors' Stijn Schaars and Mendes da Silva have played with Robin van Persie for the Netherlands in qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

• Van Persie played alongside Kew Jaliens in a UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying tie against Slovenia in October 2007.

• Vermaelen made his Eredivisie debut for Koeman's Ajax – whom he left to join Arsenal this summer – on 15 February 2004 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 away victory for the Rotterdam club in February 2003.

• Van Persie also struck for Feyenoord in the 1-1 draw against Koeman's Ajax in February 2003.

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

• Andrei Arshavin appeared in FC Zenit St. Petersburg's 1-1 home draw against AZ in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup group stage.