Qualification in Sight for Arsenal – Wenger
Arsene Wenger believes a victory over Borussia Dortmund in their Tuesday night’s Champions League clash will up their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages to ’80 per cent.’
The Gunners have won both of their opening two matches in the Group stage. They beat Marseille 2-1 on Matchday 1 in France and followed it up with a 2-0 win over SSC Napoli at the Emirates. Another three points will take their tally to nine points, and Wenger feels his side would then be very close to securing a berth in the UCL Round of 16.
Earlier today, the Arsenal manager said: “It is not a decider, but it is an important one. It is an 80 per cent game for me, for the qualifier. If we win the game and we win the other home game, we know we are there.
“The German teams, they have a desire to play, they play with a positive attitude and they have produced as well many good players recently. They don’t hide, we don’t hide, so it should be an exciting game.”
Gunners told to Stay Hungry
Arsenal FC have won all but two games so far this season, but despite such scintillating form, Arsene Wenger is demanding more from his charges and has urged them to stay hungry all season.
“We have room for improvement – and being in the position we are in at the moment and knowing we have room for improvement is of course a good feeling,” he said. “The ‘feel-good factor’ is down to the quality of the spirit of the team, the solidarity of the players, and their desire to do well.
“We know we are a team that looks like being successful – for that you need a special hunger and I believe these players have a special hunger. I believe in life you can always improve and that is what makes a top-level sportsman or a top-level team, is they always have that surge for improvement.
“I believe that collectively in the way we win the ball back and the use of the ball offensively, we have room for improvement, for more consistency in that and that is what you want from the players.”
Wenger Still Not Ready to Commit
Arsene Wenger has admitted that he hasn’t made a decision on his Arsenal career and is still undecided whether to extend his 17-year stay at the club or leave at the end of the season.
The Gunners boss’ current deal is set to expire at the end of the season, and even though an extension offer has been made to him, he has so far resisted them. Wenger is adamant he would only sign fresh terms if he feels he is still the right man for the job.
In his latest interview, he said: “It’s not a question of my loyalty – I want to feel I can do well for this club. It’s as simple as that. I can build another new team, but haven’t got 17 years, that is for sure. I can build another team because in 17 years I had a few teams, but at the minute I’m looking at the short term. I will make a decision about the longer term later.”
Flamini Out of Dortmund Clash
Mathieu Flamini will not be featuring in Arsenal’s UCL showdown with Borussia Dortmund later tonight due to a mild case of concussion.
The 29-year old midfielder did train on Monday but was pulled out by the club’s medical staff, who ascertained that he is still a little concussed. That verdict means that he is ineligible to play any competitive football for the next five days as per the FA’s rules. Hence, he won’t be a part of the club’s squad for the game against Dortmund.
The tenacious Frenchman is expected to be back in action for the weekend’s visit to Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park.
Klopp Full of Respect for Arsenal
Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp says that Arsenal are definitely the favourites in their upcoming Champions League clash at the Emirates.
Klopp, 46, will not be seen in the technical area pulling the strings tonight due to a ban, but that’s not the reason behind him declaring the Gunners as the favourites.
He explained: “They have more points [than us], are in first place in one of the strongest leagues in the world and are at home, so they will be the favourites. But I think these will be two close games and some of the small things will decide what will happen. If I had to pay for a ticket, then I think I would pick this one. As a supporter this is one of the most beautiful types of football to watch.
“Who is strong enough to be champions in the Premier League is of course strong enough to go to the final of the Champions League. Now they are back in the race [for titles] and we want to stop them. And maybe it is better for my teams for one or two games in the year when I am far away.”
When asked if he feels coach Arsene Wenger’s men have what it takes to go all the way in the UCL this season, he added: “Of course they are strong enough to go to the Champions League final. They are first in one of the strongest leagues in the world. Two or three months ago everyone wanted Arsene to spend £80 million – then he took Flamini for nothing, a good idea, and then Mesut. This team missed one player and maybe it can be Mesut?”
Sahin Talks about Failed Arsenal Moves
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin says he came close to signing for Arsenal FC several times in his career.
Sahin, 25, will be featuring in Die Borussen midfield in their Tuesday night UCL game against Arsenal, but judging by his latest comments, it seems he could have been plying his trade for the Gunners too.
He said: “It was very close in 2012. Three times in my career I was almost at Arsenal. It never happened, but that is normal in football. I think I was 16 the first time and then last summer we spoke with Arsenal, but in the end I signed with Liverpool. It was a good time for me to be part of a great club like Liverpool with such history and good team-mates.”
About his relationship with Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil, he added: “Mesut is a great player and good friend of mine. If you said he was the only player for Arsenal it would be disrespectful, but you can definitely say he is an important part of the team. During a game, it doesn’t matter who is against you. It is important that we have our match plan and if we manage to have our plan and play accordingly we don’t have to worry about individual match-ups.”
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