x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Baptista thinks Gunners could pay for inexperience

Youth is Arsenal's main weakness, the AS Roma forward Julio Baptista said of his team's opponents in the Champions League.

ROME // Youth is Arsenal's main weakness, the AS Roma forward Julio Baptista said of his team's opponents in the Champions League. "Don't get me wrong, it isn't a defect, but when you're playing at this level, the last 16 of the Champions League, a lack of international experience can give your opponents an advantage," the Brazilian told Corriere dello Sport. Arsenal host Roma in the first leg on Tuesday, and then visit Italy on March 11. The Gunners will be without the injured Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor.

"They are two quality players and this is obviously good for Roma," Baptista said. "For Arsenal they will be two big losses, even if Eduardo has returned. He has come back in great form and we will need to watch out for him." The Brazilian then will be relieved to find out the Gunners will be without the striker who suffered a hamstring injury during his comeback match. The Croatian forward will be sidelined for two weeks. "What a nightmare," the Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "Nobody knows how it happened but I knew straight away after the game it would be a two-week job. It is nothing like he had before but I do know that little setbacks like this are part of being nine months out. "After that long out, nobody plays six months on the trot. It is impossible." Roma-Arsenal is one of three Anglo-Italian matches in the Champions League, with Inter Milan facing European champions Manchester United and Juventus playing Chelsea. Baptista, who spent a season on loan at Arsenal, said the Italians teams cannot afford any slip ups.

"For sure they will be three great matches between the best teams in Europe. For us, as for Juventus and Inter, it will be hard because at the moment English football is the forefront. "Inter, Roma and Juventus have everything needed to do well against Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, but it will be fundamental not to make any mistakes because if you mess up even briefly, you're out and can't recover. For this reason us, Inter and Juventus cannot commit any errors."

*AP