Wenger: Consisitency at Home is Key

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal’s chances of progressing to the last 16 of the Uefa Champions League banks on home form.

The last time the English club failed to reach knockout stage in Europe’s elite competition- the championship had two group stages format-, they dropped to the Uefa Cup (now Europa League) third round and moved on to contest the final of the second-tier competition with Turkish outfit Galatasaray, eventually losing narrowly on penalties.

The Istanbul giants face the ‘Gunners’ for only a second time ever after that final in Copenhagen on Wednesday night, and Wenger is wary of his side’s chances following their opening loss at Borussia Dortmund.

“The group stage is a minimum of 10 points so the home games are vital. We had a disappointing result in Dortmund and at the moment I feel that the potential is there for us,” said Wenger in his pre-match media briefing on Tuesday.

Arsenal last lost a home game in the Champions League in February against German Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. The defeat eventually cost the north London club their chances of reaching the last-8 in the previous campaign.

“We don’t lose a lot but we want to find the winning edge together and we have that opportunity [on Wednesday],” said Wenger.

“It’s early but we are maybe more under pressure to win the game than if we had won the first.

“But it is the same in the Champions League – you want to win your home games. You need one good result away from home and then win all your home games.”

Arsene Wenger Marks 18 Years Since Becoming Arsenal Manager. Image: Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger Marks 18 Years Since Becoming Arsenal Manager. Image: Arsenal.

Jack Wilshere is back but Wenger is not sure if he will start tonight, as he is keen to avoid aggravating the midfielder’s condition with another London derby just by the corner.

Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey faces a month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury picked up in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur. Mikel Arteta will not be available for selection for Galatasaray and Chelsea in the coming weekend.

The 65-year-old told reporters he continues to take advice from new fitness coach Shad Forsythe, who worked previously with the German national team, on possible causes for any soft tissue injuries, even to analysing the Emirates Stadium playing surface.

“We are getting things together, getting a report on all the different opinions, what happened to him (Ramsey). It is a real concern” added Wenger.

“We made a lot of changes, in the way we prepare, in the way we work on prevention for injuries. We have not found out why it happened. When you work on the prevention for injuries it’s a question mark ‘why do you get the injuries?’

“We know a lot more than 18 years ago than when I arrived, but still not enough to predict 100 per cent scientifically what happens to everybody.”

Wenger marks 18 years as the boss

Today (Wednesday) marks 18 years since the French boss took over as Arsenal manager.

Wenger, who guided Arsenal to the final of the 2006 Champions League in Paris, where they lost 2-1 to Barcelona, insists he “never looks back”, but continues to believe in the “huge potential” of his current squad.

“It is much more predictable today, the outcome of the Champions League, than it was ten years ago. It is harder to win it, but as well more exciting,” Wenger said.

“If you make a poll tomorrow and say to people ‘give me four clubs who will win the Champions League’, then 80 or 90 per cent of people will say ‘there are these four clubs’.

“I don’t think that we are one of the four who will be favourites to win it, but football is strange – and not always predictable, so let’s first qualify from the group stage and then we will see.”