ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger insists it is too early to discern whether a highly competitive Premier League is damaging the results of English clubs in Europe.
The Gunners and both Manchester clubs all lost their opening Champions League group stage contests, adding to fears that England could have its allocation cut from four places to three.
“The Premier League is very, very tough. Is that an influence or not? I don’t know, but it’s a bit early to come to any conclusions,” he said.
“We have to wait a little bit longer. A second year without us being successful and you could come to a conclusion there is something we have to analyse deeply, but I don’t believe so at the moment.”
Wenger suggested English clubs’ struggles had been exaggerated and urged his team to prove that tonight against Olympiacos, although he conceded that the visitors benefited from their superiority in Greece.
“They are a team with a big advantage,” he added. “They dominate their league easily, so they can prepare for these kinds of games.”
Arsenal’s shock 2-1 defeat at Dinamo Zagreb has left them little room for error in a group that also includes Bayern Munich, and Wenger admits he will need his team to take maximum points at home.
“You have to win your home games if you want to qualify from the group stage, it is simple as that,” he said. “We cannot afford to drop points now against anyone at home.”
The Gunners are without midfielders Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini, who are both injured, and striker Olivier Giroud, sent off in Zagreb last time out, but Francis Coquelin is in contention to return.
THE SCOUT: OLYMPIACOS
Arsenal’s visitors have been Greek title winners five years in a row and in 17 of the last 19 seasons. They have maximum points from first five games this term, but lost 3-0 at home to Bayern Munich on matchday one. Stars include ex-Leicester captain Esteban Cambiasso and former Fulham player Pajtim Kasami.