Champions League baptism of fire for Arsenal's third-choice keeper

Arsenal rookie goalkeeper Vito Mannone will make his Champions League debut in tonight’s Group H opener against Standard Liege at the Stade Maurice Dufrasne.

The 21-year-old Italian – who had only one first-team appearance under his belt - was drafted in after Manuel Almunia laid low with a virus and Poland international Lukasz Fabianski still recovering from knee surgery.

Striker Eduardo is available after Arsenal successfully appealed against UEFA’s two-match ban for diving, and starts in the absence of Robin van Persie (knee).

Czech winger Tomas Rosicky makes a welcome first start since January 2008 after finally recovering from a string of injuries. Emmanuel Eboue comes in at full-back, with Bacary Sagna on the bench along with 18-year-old forward Sanchez Watt.

Liege were making their debut in the Champions League group stages having been knocked out of the qualifiers by Liverpool last season, go into tonight’s game on the back of a 15-match unbeaten home run.

Although captain Steven Defour is sidelined because of a broken foot, manager Laszlo Boloni recalls Axel Witsel – who is serving an eight-match domestic ban for a tackle which left Anderlecht’s Marcin Wasilewski with a double leg fracture.

Standard Liege: Bolat, Camozzato, Sarr, Mangala, Rocha, Witsel, De Camargo, Gonzalez, Dalmat, Mbokani, Jovanovic.

Subs: Van Hout, Goreux, Felipe, Dufer, Mulemo, Traore, Nicaise.

Arsenal: Mannone, Eboue, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy, Diaby, Fabregas, Song Billong, Rosicky, Eduardo, Bendtner.

Subs: Szczesny, Sagna, Ramsey, Silvestre, Wilshere, Gibbs, Watt.

Referee: Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez (Spain).

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