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Sevilla compete with Arsenal for top spot
November 26, 2007 08:56 IST
Sevilla head into Tuesday's Champions League clash against group leaders Arsenal at the Sanchez Pizjuan concerned by their inconsistency up front and lack of resilience at the back.
The Andalucians were left languishing in an unaccustomed lowly position in the table after slumping to a second defeat in a row when they went down 2-1 at home to Real Mallorca on Saturday despite dominating for most of the match.
Mallorca made the most of two defensive lapses to go 2-0 up at halftime and although Sevilla equalised through striker Frederic Kanoute at the start of the second period the islanders held on to clinch the win.
"The problem is a lack of concentration," said Sevilla boss Manolo Jimenez. "I've got the feeling that sides are scoring goals against us that shouldn't be going in. We have to kill off games while we've got the chance and be more alert at the back.
"But a change of competition will give us a chance to change focus and we've got the added incentive that we are competing to finish first in the group."
Arsenal, who top Group H by a point from Sevilla and have yet to concede a goal in Europe this season, overpowered the Andalucians 3-0 when they met at the Emirates stadium in September.
Former Tottenham Hotspur striker Kanoute, who returned to the side for the Mallorca match after a calf injury, is keen to get another shot against Arsene Wenger's team, however.
"I'm really looking forward to the game, it is a very special and important one for me, especially because it is against a former local rival," said the Mali international.
"They are going to make it very difficult for us to take first place off them but these are the sort of tense games that I love to play in."
Kanoute's Brazilian strike partner Luis Fabiano, who has scored 14 goals in all competitions, is doubtful because of an ankle injury but influential wing back Dani Alves will return after a two-match domestic suspension.
Arsenal, who moved three points clear at the top of the Premier League after a 2-0 win against a stubborn Wigan Athletic side, know that a victory will guarantee them first place in the group, having already sealed a last-16 spot.
Manager Arsene Wenger is likely to play several squad players, especially as their next three Premier League games are away from home, although he will not want to surrender his side's unbeaten record this season.
Alexandr Hleb, Robin van Persie and Abou Diaby will definitely be missing while Theo Walcott is doubtful after going off on a stretcher against Wigan with an ankle knock.
Cesc Fabregas could be on the bench after playing no part against Wigan while Brazilian-born Croatian Eduardo may get a run out up front.
Gilberto could come into contention as a holding midfielder.
Sevilla: 1-Andres Palop; 6-Adriano Correia, 28-Federico Fazio, 3-Ivica Dragutinovic, 4-Daniel Alves; 7-Jesus Navas, 8-Christian Poulsen, 21-Seydou Keita, 11-Renato, 10-Luis Fabiano, 12-Frederic Kanoute.
Arsenal: 24-Manuel Almunia; 22-Gael Clichy, 6-Philippe Senderos, 5-Kolo Toure, 31-Justin Hoyte; 7-Tomas Rosicky, 19-Gilberto, 8-Lassana Diarra, 15-Denilson; 26-Nicklas Bendtner, 9-Eduardo
Referee: Eric Braamhaar (Netherlands)
UEFA Champions League 2007-08: The Complete Coverage