DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Michael Parkhurst and Nordsjaelland will have a tough time to slow down red-hot Juventus while Jermaine Jones will hope to return to the starting eleven for Schalke on their trip to Arsenal.
FC Nordsjaelland - Juventus
With two losses and no goals scored so far from their first two group stage games, Michael Parkhurst and Nordsjaelland will be hard-pressed to take anything from their Tuesday-night encounter with Italian heavyweights Juventus.
While the Wild Tigers did notch an impressive 3-0 win in their previous league action, the undefeated reigning Italian champions will be a world away from lowly Silkeborg.
Juventus have not lost in Serie A play in their last 47 tries, and are coming off an impressive 2-0 victory over Napoli, a win that confirmed their status as favorites to retain the Italian league title.
Despite their league success, they are still winless through their first two Group E games, and desperately need the win in order to stay in position for a knockout-round berth.
For Nordsjaelland, defender Ivan Runje and forward Mikkel Beckmann are doubtful to take the field.
Juventus will see the return of team captain Gigi Buffon after the keeper missed the Napoli match with a thigh problem, but will be missing midfielders Kwadwo Asamoah and Simone Pepe along with Swiss defender Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Arsenal FC - FC Schalke 04
After being forced into substitute duty in their crucial weekend win, Jermaine Jones could still be relegated to the bench on Wednesday when Schalke heads to London to take on Arsenal.
Jones was left out of head coach Huub Stevens' starting eleven on Saturday in favor of Marco HŲger, and with the 23 year-old arguably being the player of the game in the win over arch-rivals Dortmund, the American could be facing an uphill battle to see substantial playing time.
Arsenal are coming off their most troublesome result of the season, losing a lifeless 1-0 battle to relative Premier League minnows Norwich over the weekend.
This left them struggling in ninth in the standings, once again looking a shadow of the force which was considered one of the best in Europe a few years ago.
Schalke are a team on the rise as of late, going five straight in all competitions since their previous loss. That 2-0 defeat to FC Bayern more than a month ago was in fact their only loss so far this season, and they will like their chances of breaking the long jinx of German teams playing in England.
Schalke are not currently reporting any major absences, while Arsenal have a fleet of players missing. Keepers Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski, forward Theo Walcott, midfielders Tomas Rosicky and Abou Diaby, along with defenders Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs and Bacary Sagna are all out for the game.
Having seen his role with Anderlecht greatly diminished this season, Sacha Kljestan will hope to at least earn substitute minutes on Wednesday when the team heads east to visit Russian team Zenit St. Petersburg.
Oguchi Onyewu is still looking for his competitive debut with Malaga, which could come on Wednesday when they host his former team AC Milan.