| Henry remains a doubtful starter for the crunch game
Paris: Arsenal need to beat Lokomotiv Moscow Wednesday to ensure a berth in the knockout stage of the Champions League while a draw in Lyon would be enough to send Celtic into the last 16.
The stakes are high on the final night of group stage action in Europe’s top club competition, but nowhere is the pressure greater than in Bavaria where Bayern Munich will crash out at the first stage for the second consecutive year if they fail to beat Anderlecht.
Arsenal’s task at Highbury will be made harder if their leading scorer Thierry Henry fails to recover from a knee injury that kept him out of the Premiership draw against Leicester at the weekend.
Lokomotiv are one point ahead of Arsenal in Group B, who were held goalless in Moscow in their first meeting.
With Inter Milan on the same number of points as Arsenal, a draw for the English side could see them overtaken by the Italians if they beat Dynamo Kiev in the Ukraine.
Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger must inspire his team again after they got back into the fray with an impressive 5-1 demolition of Inter at the San Siro.
“I don’t know if any supporter think that (the hard part is done) but the players certainly don’t. It’s all still to do for us,” said Wenger.
“We’re now in the position where they know that only a win will do. We have... To show patience if we don’t score at the start, but it is quite simple for us tactically — we must win.
“The best thing is that if we qualify, we will top the group. Considering we were bottom of the group two games ago, that is quite remarkable.”
The fit-again Patrick Vieira was rested at the weekend and will play but Wenger must decide whether to gamble on Henry.
“Ideally, you want him there but the most important thing is that the players who are there are fit. I only play players who are 100 per cent,” said Wenger.
Celtic are within grasp of entering Friday’s draw for the last 16, but Lyon are at full-strength for a clash the French side must win at the Stade Gerland to qualify.
Although Lyon have the same number of points as Celtic, the Glasgow side has a superior head-to-head record and that will be the deciding factor if points are level.
Defender Bobo Balde has given Celtic a boost by completing a full training session without any pain from a back injury.
He was kneed in the back in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Livingston but the club confirmed Monday that the Guinea international will not be joining Jackie McNamara on the injured list.
Celtic manager Martin O’Neill admits the loss of McNamara, added to the absence of Didier Agathe with a hamstring problem and the suspension of midfielder Alan Thompson will not help his team in the Group A decider.
“It is a massive blow, especially considering how well Jackie has been playing for us.
It is the three big players that I would prefer to be going into the game with because we are playing against a top quality side,” O’Neill told the club’s website.
“We know how tough it will be, it would be tough even if we had these players available but we’ll give it everything we have and I’m hoping on the evening we get a bit of luck.”
Lyon’s Brazilian forward Giovane Elber warned Celtic that he was desperate to end his goal drought which stretches back to November 9.
“You haven’t seen the best from me yet. I want people to see the real Elber, the one who is efficient in front of goal, aggressive and who demolishes everything in his path,” the former Bayern Munich forward warned.
Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness meanwhile is confident Bayern will book their place by defeating Anderlecht.
“It really is all or nothing,” admitted Hoeness.
“It will be a heated game but our team will come up with the goods.”
Last season’s beaten finalists Juventus have already qualified for the knockout phase but need a point from their match at home to already-eliminated Olympiakos to go through as group winners — important if they are to avoid the biggest names in the next stage.