Wenger keen to give Eboué chance of redemption
Wednesday 10 December 2008
Arsenal need only a draw in their Champions League tie in Porto tonight to secure a top-place finish in Group G and a successful trip to Portugal could also provide a tonic for their beleaguered midfielder Emmanuel Eboué.
The Ivory Coast international came on as a substitute in Arsenal's 1-0 Premier League win over Wigan Athletic at the weekend but coach Arsène Wenger withdrew him after he was loudly booed by home fans following a string of errors.
Despite Eboué's rattled confidence Wenger has indicated the midfielder will be in the squad for the Porto match as Samir Nasri's ankle injury is likely to keep the Frenchman out. England winger Theo Walcott is also sidelined for Arsenal. Wenger's midfield problems could be eased, however, by the potential return of William Gallas from a calf injury and Abou Diaby (stomach muscle) who are close to full fitness.
Arsenal hammered Porto 4-0 in London but the Wigan victory, courtesy of Emmanuel Adebayor's 10th goal of the season, was their first clean sheet in seven league games.
Porto, who are also through to the last 16 and can secure top spot if they beat Arsenal, are without Romanian right-back Cristian Sapunaru who has a muscle strain but Portugal international Raul Meireles is back in contention for a defensive midfield position. Playmaker Lucho Gonzalez also returns after a one-match suspension.
"We always play to get first place, but for this game the context is different because we're already through," Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira said. "Our main aim is to play well, to put on a good show.
"There will be no vendetta against Arsenal [for the 4-0 loss]. Porto will be just playing with great responsibility," Ferreira said. "The game will just be to decide who is first or second, nothing else. Both teams will come here relaxed because they are already qualified, and so it should be a great game to watch. It is in our philosophy to win every game and we will play to do that."
Arsenal (possible) 4-4-2: Almunia; Gibbs, Silvestre, Gallas, Djourou; Diaby, Denilson, Song, Eboué; Vela, Bendtner.
Referee: K Vassaras (Greece).
Results: Dynamo Kiev 1 Arsenal 1; Porto 3 Fenerbahce 1; Arsenal 4 Porto 0; Fenerbahce 0 Dynamo Kiev 0; Fenerbahce 2 Arsenal 5; Porto 0 Dynamo Kiev 1; Arsenal 0 Fenerbahce 0; Dynamo Kiev 1 Porto 2; Arsenal 1 Dynamo Kiev 0; Fenerbahce 1 Porto 2.
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