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Europa League round of 16 draw

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Podolski: Arsenal must be wary of Schalke

Arsenal striker Lukas Podolski believes the Gunners will need to be at their best if they are to overcome Schalke in the Champions League at the Emirates on Wednesday.

• Blog: Poldi's German mission

Podolski, 27, says the Bundesliga's third-placed team, who Arsenal face home and away in their next two Champions League fixtures, are a tough nut to crack and are "something special" on their own patch.

The Germany international told Arsenal's matchday programme: "Schalke is a very strong team, the strongest we will face in the group stage.

"If we can win this game, we will be very well placed. Schalke are a good team, though - they are something special at home, with their fans behind them - so we will want the three points at home."

Podolski also knows the strengths of Schalke coach Huub Stevens, with whom he worked for a season at Cologne, but is boosted by his good goalscoring record against them.

"I have a good history with them. I think in each of the past two or three games I played against them I have scored, so I quite like playing against them. Hopefully I can do it again in the Champions League."

Meanwhile, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has urged his players to bounce back from their weekend defeat at Norwich by maintaining their 100% record in the Champions League so far.

The Carrow Road setback saw them fall ten points behind Chelsea after a Grant Holt strike proved enough for the previously winless Canaries.

Wenger said: "I hope it will have a positive impact. It was a shock to the system, but you have to give credit to Norwich because they played well, were completely committed and they deserved the win.

"Maybe we underrated the difficulty we would face, but the Premier League is the Premier League - if you are not ready for the fight then you will always have bad surprises. Norwich defended well and we did not create a lot."

Neither Jack Wilshere nor Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will play any part in Wednesday's game, but Laurent Koscielny is back.

Schalke will be without Greece international defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who misses out as he continues his recovery from chicken pox.

But 19-year-old Germany Under-21 skipper Draxler is included despite wearing a special cast to protect a fractured bone in his arm.


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