Wenger primed for toughest of European assignments


ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger believes his side has been placed in the toughest Champions League group he has ever encountered.

Following their tense two-legged victory over Udinese in the final qualifying round, the Gunners continue their European campaign against German champions Borussia Dortmund in the atmospheric Signal Iduna Park, which is expected to house close to 70,000 home fans tonight.

Arsenal will also encounter hostile atmospheres when they travel to Marseille and Olympiacos later in the group and Wenger knows a fast start is essential if his side are to qualify for the knockout stages.

“Especially because Pot Four gave us Dortmund,” said Wenger. “That’s why it is very difficult – Marseille, Dortmund and Olympiacos.

“Sometimes you discover the real difficulty when you are in it and when we play the games.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to get positive vibes, and we need a bit of that.

“Every team, no matter how good they are, needs confidence, and I believe my team needs that at the moment.

“It would create a certainty that we have a good chance to go through. For us to get a positive result tomorrow night would be a big lift.”

Arsenal’s preparations have been hit by the two-match touchline ban Wenger incurred after being charged by Uefa following the first leg of the play-off against Udinese when defied an existing ban.

But Wenger is sure his absence from the technical area won’t have a detrimental impact on the performance of his team.

“Overall, there is no difference until we arrive at the stadium,” he said. “It’s not ideal in the first game, especially because I don’t understand what the rules are.”

Wenger will be without midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who has picked up an ankle injury, but Alex Song and Gervinho will both return from their domestic suspensions.


The Bundesliga champions have had a mixed start to the new campaign, winning two, losing two and drawing one. They come into this game having lost at home for the first time in more than a year at the weekend, when a Dortmund side missing suspended star Mario Gotze went down 2-1 to promoted Hertha Berlin.

Jurgen Klopp (inset) has dragged Borussia out of the doldrums and back to the top of German football in his three years at the club with a youthful squad that Arsene Wenger would be proud of.

Wonderkid Gotze, 19, has already netted twice in nine international appearances and shares the distinction of being the joint-first player born in a unified Germany to represent the national team. Gotze may sound familiar to Gunners fans – Wenger tried to buy the playmaker before last month’s transfer deadline.