LONDON (Reuters) – Arsenal can win anywhere in Europe according to manager Arsene Wenger who issued a rallying call ahead of Wednesday’s make-or-break Champions League decider against Olympiakos Piraeus.
Arsenal visit the Greek champions needing to win by two clear goals or by scoring at least three times in their final Group F game to pip their opponents to a place in the last 16.
After a poor qualification campaign, Arsenal trail second-place Olympiakos by three points and risk failing to reach the competition’s second stage for the first time in 16 seasons.
Wenger, however, says the challenge holds no fear for his players and believes nerves could prove an issue for the Greeks.
“We have won everywhere in Europe so we know we can do it. The best way to do that is with a top quality performance,” the Frenchman told reporters on Tuesday.
“We are playing against a side who will be motivated but one who is not yet qualified. They can lose what they have and that can create a fear factor.”
The Arsenal manager was adamant, however, that his team will need to be patient and rein in any desire for all-out attack as they hunt for the goals they need to make it through.
Having lost the reverse fixture in London 3-2, Arsenal need to better that result to reach the next round on their head-to-head record.
Should they win 3-2, they will go through because of their superior overall goal difference. In effect, this means any win other than 1-0 or 2-1 will take them through.
Wenger is keen, though, that his players do not allow their need for goals to cloud their thinking.
“It is important that we focus on the performance and the goals will come. When the goals will come, I do not know. But when we play well we have a chance to score,” he said.
“We might need to be patient. We must go into the game with the desire to win, knowing that we have to do both parts of the game — attacking and defending — well.”
Should Arsenal finish third, they will be relegated to the Europa League, Europe’s second-tier competition, whose gruelling route to the final won’t be an appealing prospect for Wenger.
“We just want to give everything we have to qualify tomorrow,” he said. “When you want to jump over a hurdle, you do not think what will happen if you miss the hurdle. If you fall down, then you respond.”
(Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Ken Ferris)