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."

News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links