Schalke vs. Arsenal: Preview and Prediction for Champions League Clash

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2012

PIRAEUS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 18:  Lars Unnerstall of FC Schalke 04 in action during the UEFA Champions League group stage match between Olympiacos FC and FC Schalke 04 at the Karaiskakis Stadium on September 18, 2012 in Piraeus, Greece. (Photo by Dimitri Messinis/EuroFootball/Getty Images)
EuroFootball/Getty Images

When Schalke and Arsenal battled at Emirates Stadium two weeks ago, the Royal Blues capitalized on a lackluster second-half performance from the Gunners to earn the Champions League victory. It put them in control of Group B with three games left.

The Gunners will be searching for a more complete showing in the rematch after mustering just a single shot on goal the first time around. A lack of offensive opportunities has been the biggest story for Arsenal in the season's first few months.

While the loss of Robin van Persie clearly had a major impact on the team, additions like Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski were expected to lessen the blow. Instead, the superstar striker's absence has been glaring so far.

Another major issue the Gunners have dealt with has been injuries. They haven't been able to stay healthy and when manager Arsene Wenger has to develop a new lineup on a seemingly weekly basis, it's tough to build any chemistry.

So the issues facing Arsenal are numerous, but the good news for the Gunners is that they still control their own destiny in the Champions League. Getting a result on the road would be a major step toward the knockout stages.

On the flip side, Schalke will be looking to widen the gap atop the Group B table. The Royal Blues currently have a one-point edge over the Gunners. A victory on Tuesday would stretch it to four with two matches to go, all but locking up that top spot.

It starts with a strong defensive plan of attack. Arsenal actually won the possession battle in the first matchup, but were unable to generate many dangerous chances because Schalke was able to avoid mistakes along the back line.

Even though Schalke, which currently sits in second place in the German Bundesliga, doesn't have as many well-known names as Arsenal, it's form has been far better in recent weeks. It showed in the last meeting and there's a good chance it will again on Tuesday.

The one player capable of turning the match around is Arsenal's Santi Cazorla. He has been tremendous after joining the Gunners over the summer and scored a late goal against Manchester United on Saturday. He's certainly been a bright spot.

That being said, the way Arsenal played against the Red Devils doesn't breed a lot of confidence. It will be a tightly-contested match throughout, but Schalke has the slight edge at home and should be able to earn all three points.

Prediction: Schalke 2, Arsenal 1