Arsene Wenger keen to top UCL group
Arsene Wenger has stressed the importance of Arsenal finishing top in their Champions League group, and says he would “feel guilty” if the club were again handed a difficult draw in the last 16 as a consequence of dropping to second.
The Gunners currently sit first in Group F, but depending on results, they could find themselves tied with Borussia Dortmund and Napoli on nine points heading into the final game.
Wenger, though, is intent on reaching the 12 point tally after the game at the Emirates Stadium against Marseille on Tuesday, giving his side the best chance of both qualification into the next round and claiming top spot.
“The draw can be as bad if you finish first as second, but you always feel when you finish second and have a bad draw, that you feel guilty,” Wenger said. “At least if you do the job well, you qualify and finish first, you can say ‘we have done our job like we wanted to do it’.
“It is in our interests to finish first. Don’t forget, we won’t neglect that if we have the opportunity to do it, but first let’s go step by step, let’s first qualify and, if we can, of course finish top of the group.
“We know what is at stake and we want to qualify. We know that tomorrow is a very big game in the final stage of the qualifiers. We have an opportunity to do it at home. You say 12 points may not be enough, it's true, but it might as well be enough and maybe it will be already tomorrow. So let's get the 12 points.”
Wenger feels Arsenal are well primed to do so, with the mood in the camp high after the 2-0 win over Southampton on Saturday.
“I would say the recent history, the recent results of the team have been good but these results are of course linked with quality, but also linked with the quality of attitude of the players,” he said.
“It is always difficult to know if you win because the players have a good attitude, or do the players have a good attitude because you win? I think you win when the players have a good approach to the game and that is what we have and the confidence is linked with the recent results.”
Meanwhile, despite Arsenal losing at home to Dortmund last month, Aaron Ramsey feels the club’s hardest game of the season was the 1-0 defeat away to Manchester United on Nov. 10.
“I think even though we played some good things in certain parts of the game, the last few seasons we haven't done particularly well there and I think that was another example of that this time when we went there,” he said.
“That's probably the toughest game we’ve played in [this season]. Even though they didn't create many opportunities and things like that, I think more mentally it was tougher.”