Arsene Wenger puts faith in rookie goalkeeper Vito Mannone

Arsene Wenger hopes rookie goalkeeper Vito Mannone is ready for the "big challenge" of a Champions League debut at Standard Liege tonight.

With regular number one Manuel Almunia having not travelled to Belgium because of a virus and Poland international Lukasz Fabianski still recovering from knee surgery, the young Italian is set for a baptism of fire at the 27,000-capacity Maurice Dufrasne Stadium.

Despite just one Barclays Premier League match, against Stoke last season, and a couple of games while on loan at Barnsley under his belt, Wenger is confident the 21-year-old can handle the occasion.

"It is a big challenge for a young boy to come into a Champions League game with such a big pressure, especially away from home," said the Arsenal manager.

"When you look at the stadium, it will be quite a difficult atmosphere."

Forward Robin van Persie is also unavailable tonight because of a slight knee problem, rather than anything to do with the facial injury suffered in a clash with former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor during Saturday's fiery Barclays Premier League clash at Eastlands.

Croatia striker Eduardo is, though, free to play following the decision by UEFA to overturn their suspension handed out after the qualifier against Celtic at Emirates Stadium last month.

Wenger said: "I am very happy we have Eduardo back because we have plenty of offensive players who are out.

"We have [Andrey] Arshavin, [Theo] Walcott, [Samir] Nasri and of course Van Persie.

"Eduardo on top of that would have been too many strikers to have out.

"That is why I am very happy to have him back. It was a good surprise I must say."

However, the Arsenal manager accepts the debate over cheating match officials will continue to rage.

"We have to accept this case has been instructed by the media," said Wenger, who had lambasted the whole episode as a "witch-hunt" against the forward, just back to match fitness from a year out with a broken leg.

"We had appealed because we thought we were in the right.

"If UEFA had decided that Eduardo was suspended for four games, we would have accepted it. That was the gamble we took."

Wenger insisted: "People have to accept this does not change anything to do with diving at all.

"In this case, it was not clear enough to convict Eduardo, but we still have all together to fight against diving."

Defensive midfielder Denilson is also sidelined by a minor back complaint, so Czech winger Tomas Rosicky could be in contention having made a long-awaited comeback at Manchester City.

Wenger said: "Everybody in the squad is very happy to have Tomas back, not only because we love him but because he is a fantastic football player.

"He has a good chance because it is a good opportunity for him."

Arsenal's Belgium centre-back Thomas Vermaelen has impressed since his £10million summer move from Ajax.

He said: "The first moment I came to this club, it felt like a family to me.

"For a player, it is very important that the feeling is good, and that was the case for me."

Liege are making their debut in Europe's elite club competition, having missed out on the group stages last season when beaten by Liverpool in their third round qualifier.

Vermaelen added: "Liege are a good team, what they did last year against Liverpool and also against Everton.

"We have to be very sharp and focused to win the game."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent