LIVE FROM THE EMIRATES - ARSENAL 2-1 STEAUA BUCHAREST

By Phil Simms ARSENE WENGER'S young gunners showed they were prepared for Sunday's showdown with Chelsea after a routine 2-1 win over Steaua Bucharest to finish second in Group H of the Champions league. After suffering their first league defeat of the season at struggling Middleborough last Sunday it was vital Arsenal provided a performance that meant they ended their group campaign on a high. Wenger, who was serving a one-match touchline ban, rung the changes and even without the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Alexander Hleb and Mathieu Flamini, they have once again showed the strength in depth they have at the Emirates. Arsenal started brightly and Robin Van Persie, back after a two-month lay-off with a knee injury, presented Theo Walcott with a glorious early opportunity following a superb through ball but he could only drag his shot wide. The England Under-21 starlet was at the heart of most of Arsenal's best attacking moves but just could not find the net. His frustration soon showed as he skipped through the Steaua defence and was put off just as he was about to pull the trigger and skied a shot over the bar. Walcott, making his 50th appearance for the club since his big-money move from Southampton two years ago, fed Barcary Sagna on the right who picked out Abou Diaby in the six-yard box, and in this, his first game since a back injury, jinxed past two defenders and rifled the ball home into the top left corner on 8 minutes. Steaua's Robinson Zapata did well to keep out a deflected Diaby effort soon after, and Van Persie curled another shot just wide of the left-hand post. With basement boys Bucharest already out with just one point out of five Group games, Jens Lehman was a virtual spectator, who was back for the first time since August 19, playing in just his fourth game of the season. Arsenal soon made their superior possession count, and on 42 minutes Nicklas Bendtner found the net with a neat finish inside the area thanks to a fine defence-splitting pass from Van Persie. The Gunners continued to dominate during the second half and were unlucky not to make it 3-0 with Bendtner unable to latch on to another inspired pass from Van Persie, which had Zapata racing out of goal to deny the Danish international. However, Steaua grabbed a mere consolation goal 21 minutes from time when substitute Dorel Zaharia latched on to a superb cross Florin Lovin who looped the ball passed the outstretched Lehman with a well-directed header. Ovidiu Petre came close to grabbing an equalizer in the closing stages with a long-range piledriver but it would have been harsh on Arsenal, who, with all their possession and chances should have been out of sight by the final whistle.