Helder is ready for Arsenal

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Glenn Helder will be cast in the role of saviour when he makes his Arsenal debut against Nottingham Forest tonight at Highbury.

Arsenal's under-pressure manager, George Graham, is looking for something special from Helder to secure Arsenal's future - and possibly his own job.

"Glenn will give us an instant lift," Graham said. "He's a natural left- sided player with pace who crosses the ball well and scores goals. He can also tackle back. He's an exciting player. Our fans will love him."

With a build-up like that, the Highbury faithful will expect Helder to inspire Arsenal towards their first home Premiership win for four months.

The £2.5m signing from Vitesse Arnhem says: "Early in my career I was just a winger but now I am more direct. As a result I score more goals." Helder scored seven times in 17 games before signing for Graham, who badly needs a convincing debut from him.

Arsenal's precarious Premier position - they are only four points above Crystal Palace in the fourth relegation slot - has helped fuel speculation about Graham's future at the club.

Both Graham and the Premier League say no announcement on the "bung" inquiry is imminent and Graham refused to discuss weekend reports claiming he had told friends he would be leaving Highbury within a fortnight.

Meanwhile, Graham carries on with half of his team missing. The strikers Ian Wright and John Hartson are suspended along with captain Tony Adams. Alan Smith, David Hillier, Ian Selley and Kevin Campbell are all out injured. But at least Stefan Schwarz is available again after suspension. However, Arsenal played some of their best football of the season when they drew at Nottingham in December with a similarly depleted team.

Meanwhile, Forest have their own problems, with the strikers Bryan Roy and Stan Collymore both missing. Ironically Roy lost his place in the Dutch national side to Helder - then advised him to join Arsenal.

Roy is suspended and the £5m-rated Collymore is rested because of his involvement in an assault case. Jason Lee, the former Southend United player, will probably be a "lone ranger" up front with five men strung across midfield. The youngsters Bobby Howe and Paul McGregor are included in the Forest squad.