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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 21:46 GMT
Slavia Prague 0-0 Arsenal
By Jonathan Stevenson

Arsenal's Theo Walcott (left) tussles with Slavia Prague's Mickael Tavares
Walcott (left) and Arsenal struggled to find their usual fluency
Arsenal qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League despite a disappointing draw at Slavia Prague.

Arsene Wenger made eight changes from the side that drew with Manchester United on Saturday for his 100th match as a manager in the Champions League.

But Arsenal were second best to Slavia, Mickael Tavares heading over and the lively Zdenek Senkerik cutting inside and forcing Manuel Almunia to tip over.

Senkerik was again denied by Almunia late on as Arsenal ensured progression.

The Gunners went into the game knowing they only needed a draw to go through and boss Wenger clearly thought the job was already done by picking a much-changed line-up.

606: DEBATE

They played like a side with little to worry about, as they uncharacteristically gave the ball away and looked content to let Slavia play at their own pace.

Lucikly for Arsenal, the hosts lacked the quality to punish them and more often than not their lack of a cutting edge let them down.

Slavia's first chance came when Daniel Pudil swung over a corner and Tavares was left unmarked six yards out, the Frenchman wastefully heading over.

Lone striker Senkerik looked a threat with his pace and he accelerated sharply to cut in from the right and fire a shot goalwards that Almunia did well to tip over.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
Wenger celebrated his 100th Champions League game in Prague

The interval brought with it a rainstorm in Prague and the deluge seemed to whet the players' appetite as the game came to life after the break.

Senkerik fell in the box with Lassana Diarra in close attendance, but referee Bertrand Layec waved Slavia's appeals away, before Nicklas Bendtner had a shot blocked by Erich Brabec.

Suddenly the tackles were flying in and the crowd were lifted from their torpor as Slavia attacked with a renewed vigour.

Brabec latched onto a free-kick only to head straight at Almunia, before David Hubacek slammed over from nearly 30 yards.

When a ball over the top caught out the Arsenal defence and sent Senkerik clean through, it seemed certain that the deadlock would be broken.

But as the striker coolly lifted the ball goalwards from 15 yards, he had not banked on Almunia's imposing frame getting in the way as the Spanish stopper raced from his line to deny Slavia once more.

Arsenal brought on Emmanuel Adebayor as they went looking for a late winner they did not deserve, but his header was easily saved by Michal Vorel and both sides had to settle for a point.

The draw extended Arsenal's unbeaten run to 26 games, but it was the first time all season the Gunners have failed to find the net.


Slavia Prague: Vorel, Tavares, Hubacek, Drizd'al, Brabec, Smicer (Kalivoda 64), Svec, Pudil (Jablonsky 89), Suchy, Krajcik, Senkerik (Ivana 77).
Subs Not Used: Vaniak, Gaucho, Sourek, Belaid.

Booked: Tavares, Svec, Krajcik, Pudil.

Arsenal: Almunia, Diarra, Gallas, Song Billong, Clichy, Walcott, Silva, Denilson, Diaby, Eduardo (Eboue 81), Bendtner (Adebayor 77).
Subs Not Used: Lehmann, Sagna, Flamini, Traore, Justin Hoyte.

Booked: Diarra, Denilson.

Att: 18,000.

Ref: Bertrand Layec (France).

SEE ALSO
Champions League photos
07 Nov 07 |  Europe
Champions League as it happened
07 Nov 07 |  Europe


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