Champions League news

Wenger focused on beating Napoli

December 10, 2013

Arsene Wenger has said Arsenal cannot put in an "average performance" against Napoli in Wednesday’s Champions League Group F decider.

• Mangan: Wenger can rotate

A win or a draw for the Gunners, who are three points clear at the top of the group, would secure seeded qualification for the knockout stages.

If other results go their way then defeat in Naples could even be enough to send Arsenal through as group winners, however, it could also see them exit the Champions League early, but Wenger is only concerned about winning the tie.

"I see it as another game we want to win, and that is the only way we can approach the game," Wenger told a prematch news conference.

"Benitez has a very big experience, is a very intelligent manager, so I know he will prepare his team well. The only way we can counter that is to be at our best and put in a good performance as an average performance will not be good enough tomorrow."

Wenger added: "For me the most important thing is to qualify. If we can finish top, it is even better."

Having already secured away wins against Marseille and Borussia Dortmund, Wenger is hopeful that his side have the ability to shrug off the famous atmosphere at the Stadio San Paolo and make it three in a row.

"That is part of the big games, we know how to deal with that because we have that everywhere in Europe," Wenger said.

"When you go from Fenerbahce to Dortmund, you are used to these kind of atmospheres."

Arsenal, five points clear at the top of the Premier League, face tough games against Manchester City and Chelsea in the coming fortnight, but Wenger has played down their importance in the title race.

"[Wednesday’s] game certainly [is decisive] as it is to be in the Champions League or not. The two other [Premier League] games not definitely as we are five points ahead and overall the [English] championship is a marathon," he said.

"We will be in the race, no matter what happens. We will show our strength hopefully, but [Wednesday] is a decider, that is for sure."

Wenger added: "The attitude of the players for me is absolutely focused, ambitious and that is what pleases me very much, because it shows the players want to do well until the end of the season."

Bacary Sagna continues to recover from a hamstring problem, so Carl Jenkinson looks set to deputise at right-back again in Naples.

England forward Theo Walcott, meanwhile, is pressing for a place in the starting line-up having been used as an impact player from the bench after his return from minor abdominal surgery.

Arsenal were reportedly close to signing Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid in the summer before Napoli sealed a 34 million pound move for the Argentina international striker.

Wenger has no regrets about the deal’s failure to conclude and insisted he is content with the job Olivier Giroud has done.

"There were a lot of statements that were not true about Higuain, but he has joined Benitez, is in good hands and shows he is a great striker," Wenger said.

"But we have [Olivier] Giroud who shows as well he is a great striker."

Wenger added: "Higuain is a player you have to keep quiet as he is of course very dangerous, so the more we can play outside the box the easier it will be for us to keep him quiet."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.