News Column

Losing place among Euro elite not unthinkable, says Wenger

August 27, 2014


MANAGER Arsene Wenger is banking on Arsenal'sChampions League pedigree giving them an edge in tonight's make-or-break play-off clash against Besiktas at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners approach a tie poised at 0-0 from last week's torrid first leg in Turkey without suspended top scorer Aaron Ramsey and injured striker Olivier Giroud and captain Mikel Arteta. They have never arrived at the second leg without a lead, but Wenger's men have progressed with ease from six previous Champions League play-offs and the Frenchman hopes experience will be a deciding factor as he aims to avoid missing out on the group stage for the first time since 1997-98.

"Nothing is unthinkable - it has happened to 99 per cent of all the big clubs in Europe - but we think we have the potential to do it," he said. "Experience plays a big part. We have big experience of playing in the Champions League and in highly pressurised games. We can use that."

Wenger insists unsettled forward Lukas Podolski is staying at the club but would not confirm suggestions that Giroud could be out for three months with a broken foot. Left-back Kieran Gibbs is also ruled out until next month but striker Yaya Sanogo could return.

HISTORY ? Arsenal have progressed from six previous Champions League play-offs: 13/14: Fenerbahce (3-0 A; 2-0 H) 11/12: Udinese (1-0 H; 2-1 A) 09/10: Celtic (2-0 A; 3-1 H) 08/09: Twente (2-0 A; 4-0 H) 07/08: Sparta Prague (2-0 A; 3-0 H) 06/07: Dynamo Zagreb (3-0 A; 2-1 H)

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Source: City A.M. (UK)

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