Arsenal will be without Aaron Ramsey for their Group B Champions League clash with Schalke tonight. The Welshman was taken off at Old Trafford on Saturday after suffering from a groin strain. Johan Djourou comes into the Arsenal squad that travelled to Germany in his place.
The only other change in the squad is that substitute goalkeeper Damian Martinez is ineligible for the game, so James Shea takes his place in the squad and will be on the bench for the Gunners. Wojciech Szczesny returned to training on Monday, but isn’t ready to make his first-team return yet.
Theo Walcott is ill and will have to be assessed today to see whether he is well enough to play for the Gunners today. Elsewhere, the Gunners will still be without all of Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby and Kieran Gibbs.
Schalke’s Kyrgiakos Papadopoulos suffered a cut above his eyebrow in his side’s 3-2 loss to Hoffenheim at the weekend.
In terms of how this group will shape up, this is a very important game. If Arsenal win, they’re back in the driver’s seat for winning the group. A draw will keep it pretty much the same, but Olympiakos would have the chance to put pressure on the top 2 should they beat Montpellier tonight. A Schalke win would leave Arsenal fighting with Olympiakos and potentially Montpellier for the all important second qualifying spot. In that scenario, Olympiakos could go level on points with Arsenal with a win tonight and Montpellier could come within two points of the Gunners, leapfrogging Olympiakos into third in the process should they beat the Greek side.
So, plenty to play for tonight and I can’t say I am looking forward to it at the moment. I am struggling to see us getting anything from this. The team has no confidence at all, we have some key players missing through injury and they’ve got to beat a side that outplayed them at the Emirates last month, beating them 2-0 in the process. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love nothing more than an Arsenal win tonight, but it’s hard to see it coming.