Wenger acknowledges Mannone challenge

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Football News

Arsene Wenger hopes rookie goalkeeper Vito Mannone is ready for the "big challenge" of a Champions League debut at Standard Liege on Wednesday.

With regular number one Manuel Almunia having not travelled to Belgium because of a virus and Poland international Lukasz Fabianski still recovering from knee surgery, the young Italian is set for a baptism of fire at the 27,000-capacity Maurice Dufrasne Stadium.

"It is a big challenge for a young boy to come into a Champions League game with such a big pressure, especially away from home," said the Arsenal manager.

"When you look at the stadium, it will be quite a difficult atmosphere."

Forward Robin van Persie is also unavailable because of a slight knee problem, rather than anything to do with the facial injury suffered in a clash with former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor during Saturday's fiery Barclays Premier League clash at Eastlands.

Croatia striker Eduardo is, though, free to play following the decision by UEFA to overturn their suspension handed out after the qualifier against Celtic at Emirates Stadium last month.

Wenger said: "I am very happy we have Eduardo back because we have plenty of offensive players who are out.

"We have (Andrey) Arshavin, (Theo) Walcott, (Samir) Nasri and of course Van Persie.

"Eduardo on top of that would have been too many strikers to have out.

"That is why I am very happy to have him back. It was a good surprise I must say."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Robin Van Persie
Emmanuel Adebayor
European News
Lukasz Fabianski
Premier League
Manuel Almunia
UEFA Champions League
Vito Mannone

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