Arsenal will look to put the disappointment of a poor defeat to Norwich behind them by putting one foot in the knockout phase of the Champions League with a victory over Schalke on Wednesday. The Gunners have taken six points from their first two games in the competition and know a win against the German side will put them within touching distance of emerging from the group stage for the 13th consecutive season.
While Arsene Wenger’s side have yet to lift the famous trophy, their consistency in the Champions League, especially at home, is admirable. It has been an incredible 45 games and nine years since Arsenal lasted tasted defeat to a non-English side in Europe’s premier competition.
In contrast, Schalke’s record on English soil does not make for pleasant reading. The side from Gelsenkirchen have yet to win in England in five attempts, the last of which was a demoralizing 4-1 defeat to Manchester United in the semifinal of the Champions League two years ago.
Schalke will doubtless feel they should be arriving at the Emirates level on points with the Gunners at the top of Group B. Huub Stevens’ side looked well on their way to doing so after winning away at Olympiakos and subsequently leading 2-1 at home to 10-man Montpellier heading into the final minute. But Souleymane Camara’s late equalizer has spoiled what would have been a dream start on their return to the competition.
Schalke should come into the match with Arsenal in high spirits, though, having claimed a 2-1 victory at their fierce rivals Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.
Stevens is likely to still be without the talented 19-year-old midfielder Julian Draxler, while Greek defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos may not yet be ready for a return despite beginning training after a bout of chicken pox.
For Arsenal, despite long-term absentees Jack Wilshere, Emmanuel Frimpong and Bacary Sagna all playing 90 minutes for the Under-21’s on Monday, none of the trio are likely to be rushed back into action just 48 hours later.
Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs will also be missing, though Laurent Koscielny is expected to be back in contention.
D: Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos
M: Arteta, Coquelin
Ramsey, Cazorla, Podolski
D: Uchida, Matip, Howedes, Fuchs
M: Neustadter, Hoger
Farfan, Holtby, Afellay
Prediction: Schalke’s recent form, especially away from home where they are unbeaten this season, points to them giving Arsenal a stern test at the Emirates. However, the Gunners have just that more quality and they should recover from their international-week hangover at the weekend to pick up the victory.
Arsenal 2-1 Schalke
Where to watch: The Champions League B matchup kicks-off from the Emirates at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by MSG Plus, with a live stream available via FoxSoccer2Go.