Champions League - Double boost for Gunners

Mon, 31 Oct 15:06:00 2011

Arsenal defenders Thomas Vermaelen and Carl Jenkinson are fit to play in Tuesday's Champions League game at home to Marseille, manager Arsene Wenger said after the pair made late appearances in the weekend's stunning 5-3 victory over Chelsea.

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The Premier League side can secure a place in the last-16 with a Group F victory over their French visitors, whom they beat 1-0 thanks to a last-gasp winner by Aaron Ramsey in Marseille two weeks ago.

"They will both be available and in the squad tomorrow," Wenger told a news conference on Monday referring to Vermaelen and Jenkinson, who came on as substitutes in the 88th and 75th minutes respectively on Saturday.

"Are they fit enough to play? Yes, of course."

Arsenal's leaky defence played a large part in a poor start to the league season and matters have not been helped by injuries to the likes of Vermaelen and right-back Bacary Sagna who broke his leg this month.

The Gunners have turned around their fortunes of late, having climbed to seventh in the Premier League, and are having no problems down the other end of the pitch where Robin van Persie is enjoying a hot streak of form.

The Dutchman scored a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge, making it 28 goals in his last 27 league games, but Wenger was quick to point out it was not a one-man show.

"He is an exceptional player, who takes advantage as well of the fact that we are a very offensive team, that the whole team works very hard for him," the Frenchman said.

Wenger also welcomes back midfielder Yossi Benayoun into his squad but forward Marouane Chamakh is sidelined with a knee problem.

Arsenal lead the group with seven points from three games, one clear of Marseille, but the combination of remaining fixtures means they will finish in the top two and qualify for the knockout stage if they win on Tuesday.

Reuters

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