Wenger, who celebrated his 63rd birthday on Tuesday, has admitted the side's poor performance and declared himself alarmed at the gap separating the Gunners and Chelsea at the top of the table. A win over the Bundesliga side, apart from all but ensuring qualification, will help restore confidence and morale amongst players and fans.
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Arsenal's 0-1 defeat to Norwich leaves Wenger's side 10 points behind leaders Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs. A title challenge, although still certainly possible, is not probable. The Gunners, however, are better placed in the Champions League, with two wins from two games and both Montpellier and Olympiakos already in trouble. The bad news is it can all go wrong very quickly. A defeat to the Germans and a win, say, for the French champions, and Arsenal's trip to Germany in the next round of matches becomes a daunting prospect.
Schalke come into the match on a five match unbeaten run in the league and a win over champions Borussia Dortmund in the previous game. A positive result for Huub Stevens' men at the Emirates (and that includes the possibility of a draw) means they can take the London club to Germany and maybe force a win to pressure Arsenal during their final two matches.
A key player for the visitors will be Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who scored 44 times from 47 appearances for the club last season. The 26 year old former Ajax man spent two seasons in the wild with Spanish champions Real Madrid and Italian giants AC Milan but he seems to have recovered all of his goal-scoring instincts and is likely to be a handful for Thomas Vermaelen and co.
In addition, support players like Jefferson Farfan, Lewis Holtby (who is reportedly being tracked by Liverpool) and Ibrahim Afellay (on loan from Barcelona) will mean Wenger is unlikely to have things his way at the Emirates.
- Last Five (most recent first): L W W L W
- Last Match: Norwich City 1 - 0 Arsenal
- Last Five (most recent first): W W D D W
- Last Match: Borussia Dortmund 1 - 2 Schalke 04
Wenger will likely be without England youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, after the midfielder suffered a thigh injury in the Norwich game. The Frenchman will definitely be without another England international midfielder in Theo Walcott, who continues his recovery from a chest injury in a collision with San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini in a World Cup qualifier. The Gunners' defensive restrictions include a third England man - Kieran Gibbs - who is likely to be used only in the weekend's league match against QPR. Also unavailable for this game are midfielders Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky, both of whom are at least a couple of weeks away from recovery.
The news regarding 20 year old England midfielder Jack Wilshere is that Wenger has chosen not to risk him against the Germans. The youngster is slowly making his way back to the first team after a 14 month injury lay-off and completed his second 90 minutes since returning to the sport, when he played in an U21 match against Everton.
The visitors' biggest concern will be the absence of 19 year old Julian Draxler, who broke his wrist in the earlier Champions League game (2-2 v Montpellier) and has yet to recover fully. There is talk he could play with a cast on his arm but that is unlikely. Two confirmed absentees are Greek and German defenders Kyriakos Papadopulous and ChristophMetzelder respectively.
Arsenal: Mannone; Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Santos; Arteta, Ramsey; Gervinho, Cazorla, Podolski; Giroud
Schalke 04: Unnerstall; Uchida, Howedes, Matip, Fuchs; Neustadter, Hoger; Farfan, Holtby, Afellay; Huntelaar
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