Arshavin hopes for easy win, Long eyes start
Andrey Arshavin is hoping Russia make life easier for themselves against FYR Macedonia than they did against the Republic of Ireland. Russia claimed a 3-2 win in Dublin in Friday's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier to move level on points with their opponents and Slovakia at the top of Group B.
Dick Advocaat's men were the better side virtually from start to finish but failed to kill off the Irish and Arshavin is hoping they can be more clinical against Macedonia, who also coming off a victory, albeit a relatively unconvincing one in Andorra.
He told rt.com: "The game in Macedonia is ahead and we have to do the same as we did with the Irish - we have to win. Only it's better to do it without much fuss. The victory in Skopje is no less important because there are three points for every win."
Shane Long has told Giovanni Trapattoni he is ready to lead the line for the Republic in Slovakia tomorrow night. Ireland were dealt a major blow yesterday when striker Kevin Doyle was ruled out of the match in Zilina with a knee problem.
With manager Trapattoni seemingly committed to playing two up front, either Long or Doyle's Wolves team-mate Andy Keogh looks certain to be given the nod. And it is 23-year-old Reading frontman Long who looks the favourite after coming off the bench to score the Republic's second goal on Friday.
Long said: "Nothing's set in stone yet but I'd love to get a run on Tuesday night. It's a massive thing to play for your country and I've only started once for Ireland in a competitive game.
"If I get the nod, I'll be ready. It's nice coming off the bench when the other team's a little bit tired but I feel like I've been playing well for my club and it's nice to show what you're about."
The Republic go into the match locked on six points with Slovakia and Russia after losing their 100% record in the group, and Long admitted the stakes have now been raised heading into what is expected to be one of the most difficult matches of the campaign.
The striker said: "We've got pride and it's not nice to lose at home but if we get a win in Slovakia it will redeem things a bit. Three from six points wouldn't look so bad."
Armenia will be out to build on an excellent result last time out when they host Andorra, having beaten Slovakia, a team nearly 90 places above them in the FIFA rankings, 3-1 on Friday.
The result left the top five teams in the group separated by just two points and, with a game against the pool's whipping boys to come tomorrow, Armenia should still be firmly in the mix come Wednesday morning.