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Russian Premier League leaders Zenit St Petersburg are hoping to bounce back from their Europa League flop to continue their march towards a domestic title when they take on promoted Arsenal Tula on Sunday.
Zenit focus back on league after Europe flop
04/24/2015
 
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Russian Premier League leaders Zenit St Petersburg are hoping to bounce back from their Europa League flop to continue their march towards a domestic title when they take on promoted Arsenal Tula on Sunday.


Zenit failed to overcome a one-goal deficit in their Europa League quarter-final tie with holders Sevilla on Thursday, having to settle for a 2-2 draw which sent them crashing out of a tournament they won in 2008.


But in the domestic league, Zenit are still top of the table eight points clear of second-placed FC Krasnodar, with champions CSKA in third another four points further adrift.


Zenit, who are winless in their last two premierships matches, are set to beat Arsenal to move closer to what would be their fourth Russian title.


"We're very disappointed (with the Europa League exit) as we really wanted to make it into the next stage. We gave it as much as we could," Zenit manager Andre Villas-Boas said.


"Now we shall focus on the domestic title to win it as soon as possible.


"Last week we dropped two points at Kuban Krasnodar and the (championship's) outcome now is still not clear. 

But we are going to prepare well for the game with Arsenal where we want to hold on for the win."


Meanwhile, Arsenal, who beat Zenit 3-2 in the last 16 of the Russian Cup in October, are aiming to extend their three-match winning streak in the premiership.


"We're all set to give everything and get a positive result at Saint Petersburg," midfielder Dmitry Smirnov, who scored Arsenal's winner at Amkar Perm a week ago, said.


FC Krasnodar, who are unbeaten in their last 13 league matches and remain firmly on course to finish runners-up and thus secure a place in the Champions League next season, will be confident of a win over Lokomotiv Moscow on Saturday.


"I'm happy with my team's performances in recent matches," Krasnodar manager Oleg Kononov said.


"We looked solid against CSKA last week. Now we shall try and produce the same quality performance against Lokomotiv.


"Everybody in our club dreams about a place in the Champions League. And we are all working hard to make this dream true."


Third-placed reigning champions CSKA Moscow, who are winless in their last four league games, have a fair chance of rebounding from a run of poor results with a match at lowly city rivals Torpedo.


On Saturday the Red Army side will still be without several injured top players, while their attacking line looks much less impressive since Ivory Coast sharpshooter Seydou Doumbia left for AS Roma in January's transfer move.


"Of course, our strike force could have been better in recent ganes," said CSKA head coach Leonid Slutsky.


"Currently we cannot sign any forwards to strengthen our attack. But we have enough skilled and creative players in midfield."

Source: Alexandre FEDORETS/ AFP
 
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