Angry Arsene Wenger to ring the changes for Arsenal in Portugal
Fabregas among those who might sit it out at Braga as Gunners seek a point to qualify
ARSENAL need a point to qualify in Braga tonight, but Arsene Wenger is adamant they go for the victory to get Saturday’s derby defeat out of their system.
The Gunners boss is ready to ring the changes in Portugal, and has left three of Saturday’s beaten team, Andrey Arshavin, Robin van Persie and Gael Clichy back in London with minor injuries.
Tomas Rosicky, Nicklas Bendtner and Kieran Gibbs are likely to be their replacements, while Johan Djourou could also return at the back and Jack Wilshere in midfield.
Captain Cesc Fabregas may drop to the bench as he is still not fully recovered from the hamstring injury that ruled him out for a month last month.
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Bendtner is back in contention after effectively being banned by Wenger for a week after his outburst in the Danish press suggesting he would leave Arsenal if he did not get more games.
Wilshere, meanwhile, has recovered from a back problem sustained in training with England last week, and should start after not featuring in Saturday’s galling 3-2 defeat to Spurs.
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“I left Clichy behind because he has a small back problem and we will take the opportunity to clear that out,” explained Wenger before the squad flew out to Portugal on Monday.
“Arshavin did not travel because I want to give him a rest, he has played every single game recently and played for Russia [last week].
“And Van Persie [will not travel] so he can improve his fitness because he is back in the squad but is not 100 per cent fit at the moment - I mean his physical condition to fight in a top-level game.
“I think that [working hard on the training ground] is what he needs at the moment. If I take him to Braga and he is not 100 per cent and is on the bench and doesn’t come on then it is a waste of time and for three days, so I leave him behind and he will take the opportunity to work.”
The Gunners defeated Braga 6-0 at the Emirates back in September, but Wenger is expecting a much tougher game in the spectacular
“In the first match against Braga everything went for us and we had a very good game, but we have to forget that. We feel it will be a completely new game,” Wenger said.
“We will not feel any superiority, but we know that to win any away game in the Champions League you need to turn up with a good performance.
“We feel we are in a strong position to go through to the next phase and that’s what we came here for, to take that final step.
“We have played in every difficult place in Europe and we know if we turn up with a good performance we have a chance to win anywhere. That is how we will approach the game.”
Arsenal’s probable starting XI tonight: