Match Preview: Roma v Arsenal (Champions League)

Roma v Arsenal, Champions League last 16, second leg, March 11, 2009

Several weeks back it looked bleak for Arsenal. Falling off the coattails of Aston Villa in the league, the build up of injuries at the Emirates appeared to be spelling out another trophyless season. But having spanked Burnley off the park in the FA Cup, oozing the beautiful football for which the Wenger Boys are famed, they head to Rome in high spirits looking to build on their slender 1-nil first leg lead.

The Gunners will be far from full strength on Wednesday night. Arshavin is cup-tied, Adebayor is definitely out injured along with long term absentee Cesc Fabregas, while Kolo Toure is a doubt at the back. On the more positive side Eduardo da Silva (3 goals in 2 matches this season and 2/1 to score on the night) could start alongside Robin van Persie (7/1 to be first goalscorer) up front while Theo Walcott could make his first start on the right hand side since his shoulder injury.

Arsenal will also be buoyed ahead of their trip to the Stadio Olimpico knowing that they are defending a 17-match unbeaten run in all competitions, but the bookies seem happy to disregard their form leaning on Roma to qualify, the Italians being priced at 5/2 to progress while the Gunners are 2/7.

Roma’s 3-1 defeat of Chelsea in the group stages remains fresh in the mind (they are 25/1 to repeat the same scoreline) while the Giallorossi will also be boosted by the likely return of talisman Francesco Totti (11/2 to be the man of the match) as well as the influential Alberto Aquilani in midfield. But it is not all good news for the Romans who will be without the services of Simone Perrotta, Cincinho and Daniele De Rossi.

Looking for positive omens for the Gunners, they can refer back to the meeting of the sides back in the 2002-03 Champions League second group phase which saw Arsenal beat Roma 1-3 in Rome before drawing 1-1 in London. And history favours the North Londoners further, Arsenal have not lost in their last four visits to Italy, winning three times and drawing once.

101predicts: Roma 0 – Arsenal 2 (14/1)

Full match odds from 888sport here.