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Akwa United miss chance to close gap at the top

By ESPN Staff

Partizan star Krstajic aims for Arsenal scalp

Partizan Belgrade captain Mladen Krstajic maintains the Serbians will be out to make a name for themselves across Europe by heaping more misery on Arsenal in Tuesday night's Champions League clash.

Krstajic, a 36-year-old defender, believes Alexander Stanojevic's well-drilled team - who lost their first Group H fixture 1-0 at Shakhtar Donetsk - can produce a performance which would send shockwaves throughout the competition.

"Against Arsenal, we will need to give even more than we produced against Shakhtar,'' Krstajic told the UEFA Champions League Magazine Show. "We can't afford to let our performance level drop, and I hope we will manage to achieve a result that will announce our name throughout Europe.''

Despite his bravado, Krstajic - who faced Shakhtar wearing a special mask to protect a broken nose - knows Arsenal, missing keeper Manuel Almunia because of an elbow injury as well as the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott, will test Partizan's resolve.

"It is hard to say who their most dangerous player is,'' he said. "Arsene Wenger has a number of good players around 20 years of age. I don't know what line-up they will put out, but all the players will be tough opponents. We will need total focus to have a chance of getting into the match.

"It won't be easy at all, and will be a tactical game. It is not only the four or five players at the back who have to defend - the whole team will have to play as one. Our midfield and our strikers will have to stay focused. We need to keep our minds on the game and, with the support of our fans, we will be able to come away with good memories.''

Stadion FK Partizan is set to be at boiling point come kick off, as The Gravediggers look to be the extra man against an Arsenal team which has not won an away European tie in more than a year.

"Partizan's fans are always there for the players,'' said Krstajic, who has supported the Belgrade club since he was a boy. "There will be no surprises, they will support us for 90 minutes - they are part of us and we are part of them.''

Defenders Ivan Stevanovic and Marko Jovanovic are available again after being suspended against Shakhtar, however, right-back Alexander Miljkovic has been ruled out after picking up an ankle injury in training. Krstajic and star midfielder Radosav Petrovic were both rested in the goalless draw against Spartak Zlatibor Voda on Friday, keeping them fresh for the Gunners.

Stanojevic had been set to watch Arsenal tackle West Brom at the Emirates Stadium, but instead opted to remain in Serbia and analyse what went wrong for his own side against Spartak.

The 37-year-old, who became the youngest head coach in Partizan's history when he succeeded Goran Stevanovic in April, knows his men are in for a real test against the Gunners - but is confident they can make the most of Arsenal's current defensive frailties.

Speaking on the club's official website, Stanojevic said: "We will have as much of the game as Arsenal will allow us. I would like to see us attack Arsenal just as we did Spartak, but we have to be realistic - Arsenal scored four the other day at White Hart Lane with a mixed side.

"Of course, Arsenal have weaknesses. Their defence is not so good as many would think - they play in such a manner that there is lot of space for any opponent there, and you seize that or not. There are certain things we can take advantage of, but we will see if we are able to do so on Tuesday.

"With the atmosphere we have [at the stadium], I believe we can give our maximum and get a positive result.''


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