Champions League preview

Image: Arsene Wenger and Andre Villas-Boas will be hoping to oversee victories for Arsenal and Chelsea

Arsenal and Chelsea head into Matchday Five searching for victories that will see them safely into the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

Gunners and Blues seek to book their place in the knockout stage

Arsenal and Chelsea head into Matchday Five searching for victories that will see them safely into the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League. The Premier League giants have enjoyed contrasting fortunes domestically of late and will be keen to maintain and establish momentum respectively when their attention turns to continental action. Arsenal will be back on home soil on Wednesday when they welcome reigning Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund to Emirates Stadium. The Gunners know that three points will see them into the second round, while a draw could be enough if other results go their way. Arsene Wenger will, however, be eager to stress the importance of finishing top of the group to his players, with it important to avoid a fellow European heavyweight in the knockout stage. Marseille take on Olympiakos in the other game in Group F, and the French hosts will have one eye on events at the Emirates as they know victories for themselves and Arsenal will see both sides through.

Wobble

Chelsea have wobbled alarmingly of late, with an unexpected slump in the Premier League causing Andre Villas-Boas' short reign as manager to be called into question. The Blues will welcome the distraction of European football, with their fate very much in their own hands as they prepare to go to Bayer Leverkusen. A win in Germany will take Chelsea through and leave them in pole position to top the group, but defeat to a side that will be skippered by former Blue Michael Ballack will leave them sweating on their Champions League future. Elsewhere in Group E, Valencia will be looking to keep themselves in the mix, ahead of a showdown with Chelsea on Matchday Six, when they entertain winless Genk at the Mestalla.
Battle
AC Milan and Barcelona have already booked their place in the last 16, but first place in Group H remains up for grabs and both sides will have their foot on the gas in an encounter that will see Zlatan Ibrahimovic face his former employers for the first time since making an acrimonious departure from Camp Nou. BATE Borisov and Plzen are battling it out for third spot and Europa League qualification and whoever prevails in their early evening kick-off in Belarus will give themselves the upper hand in that particular tussle. Group G remains intriguingly poised, but surprise package APOEL Nicosia can settle one issue if they secure a double over Zenit St Petersburg - in a 5pm kick-off in sub-zero Russia - and book their place in the next round. Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Porto are playing catch up at the moment and desperately need to pick up maximum points from their midweek meeting.

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