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Red-hot Arsenal and Napoli square off
October 1st, 2013 12:01AM

TAGS:  england, uefa champions league


[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Week 2] After opening with a loss at home to Aston Villa, Arsenal has run off seven straight wins -- including a shootout victory with its "B" team in the Capital One Cup -- but it faces perhaps its toughest test so far when it hosts Napoli in the UEFA Champions League. Napoli isn't off to a shabby start, either, with five wins and a tie in Serie A and a victory over runner-up Borussia Dortmund to open its UCL campaign.

Arsenal is carrying a 13-year streak of reaching the knockout stage of the Champions League but finds itself in a tough group with Napoli and Dortmund, plus Marseille.

"If you look at the teams, Marseille, Dortmund and Napoli," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, "they all play at the top of their league and in big football countries, so you feel, of course, for us it is vital to continue our run and to come out of the group. But you know as well the importance of the home games will be decisive in a group of that quality."

Tuesday's game will mark the first time Napoli coach Rafael Benitez has returned to London since leaving Chelsea, where he served as interim manager last season.

"He is a top class manager," said Wenger. "He has proven that, so when you are confronted with his teams, you know it will always be difficult. But we are up for it, we want to do it and we have the confidence to do it."

CELTIC-BARCELONA. Last season, Celtic was one of the surprises of the group stage when it beat Barcelona, 2-1, at Celtic Park. But even if Barcelona will be without injured Lionel Messi, Celtic manager Neil Lennon is not counting on a repeat victory. "Us getting a spanking goes through my mind," he said. "Hundred percent."

AMERICAN CONNECTION. Schalke 04 dropped Jermaine Jones from its squad that traveled to Switzerland to face Basel.

UCL TV Schedule: Tuesday:
Celtic-Barcelona (live) 2:30 pm.
Steaua Bucharest-Chelsea (delay) 7 pm.

Steaua Bucharest-Chelsea (live) 2:30 pm.

Zenit St. Petersburg-Austria Vienna (live) Noon.
Arsenal-Napoli (live) 2:30 pm.
Celtic-Barcelona (delay) 5 pm.
Ajax-AC Milan (delay) 8 pm.
Steaua Bucharest-Chelsea (delay) 10 pm.

Zenit St. Petersburg-Austria Vienna (live) Noon.
Celtic-Barcelona (live) 2:30 pm.
Arsenal-Napoli (delay) 5 pm.
Porto-Atl. Madrid (delay) 7 pm.

UCL TV Schedule: Wednesday:
Shakhtar Donetsk-Man United (live) 2:30 pm.

Man City-Bayern Munich (live) 2:30 pm.
Real Madrid-FC Copenhagen (delay) 8 pm.

CSKA Moscow-Viktoria Plzen (live) noon.
Real Madrid-FC Copenhagen (live) 2:30 pm.
Shakhtar Donetsk-Man United (delay) 5 pm.
Man City-Bayern Munich (delay) 8 pm.
Juventus-Galatasaray (delay) 10 pm.

CSKA Moscow-Viktoria Plzen (live) noon.
Real Madrid-FC Copenhagen (live) 2:30 pm.
Man City-Bayern Munich (delay) 5 pm.
Shakhtar Donetsk-Man United (delay) 7 pm.
Bayer Leverkusen-Real Sociedad (delay) 9 pm.

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