Arsenal aim knockout berth

Arsenal aim knockout berth

Champions Barcelona lock horns with heavyweights AC Milan at San Siro

The English side are far better placed to do that than the German champions as they lead the group with eight points, one clear of Olympique Marseille, who in turn are three ahead of Dortmund with Olympiakos Piraeus in last place on three.

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas said he was satisfied with his team's performances leading up to the Group E game at Bayer Leverkusen even though they have suffered an alarming dip in terms of recent results. The Londoners have lost three of their last four Premier League matches including two in a row at home against Arsenal and Liverpool.

AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic says there will be nothing personal about their match against Barcelona, the club he left in acrimonious circumstances 18 months ago.

Ibrahimovic missed the 2-2 draw at Nou Camp earlier in Group H and will now have to make do with a match that is reduced to a virtual friendly after both sides qualified for the knockout rounds in the previous round of games.

"I was disappointed but for me playing against a former team is nothing personal," the volatile Swede told

A spot in the pre-quarters for the 12th successive season is assured if Arsenal win and if the other group result goes their way they could qualify with a draw at home, where they have only lost one of their last 36 Champions League matches.  Arsene Wenger's side have recovered from a poor start to the season and continued their revival with a fifth successive Premier League win at Norwich City on Saturday to take their recent unbeaten run to eight matches in all competitions. Arsenal have relied heavily on Robin van Persie this season.

The Dutchman, who also scored Arsenal's goal in their 1-1 draw in Dortmund in September, did not start the drab 0-0 home draw with Marseille three weeks ago when Arsenal squandered the chance to make the last 16 with a victory.

Dortmund, who won their first group match at the fourth attempt when they beat Olympiakos 1-0 on Nov 1, will take great heart from their 1-0 win over Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday -- their sixth league win in their last seven matches.

Coach Juergen Klopp could not have hoped for a better warm-up ahead of their visit to Arsenal, where they have to win to guarantee they stay in contention for a spot in the first knockout round with a final group match to play.

Chelsea are top of Group E with eight points from four games, two ahead of Leverkusen. Valencia, who take on Belgians Racing Genk on Wednesday, are third on five points.  
Leverkusen captain Michael Ballack will celebrate his 100th appearance in European club competition by taking on former club Chelsea. "This is something special," the former Germany skipper told reporters.