herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Wenger eyes group summit with Basel win

Arsene Wenger. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire
Arsene Wenger. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire

Arsene Wenger is aiming to take another step towards guiding Arsenal to the top of their Champions League group when they welcome Basel to the Emirates Stadium tonight.

The Gunners have made it through the group stage for the past 16 years but they have failed to get beyond the round of 16 in the previous six attempts.

One of the problems has been their inability to finish in top spot in their group, leaving them open to face some of Europe's biggest names.

Barcelona eased past Wenger's side last year but, after fighting to a draw at Paris St Germain in their opening game of Group A, the Frenchman is hoping that can lead to advancing as group winners and avoiding the rest of Europe's elite.

"It's our target but the truth is on the pitch," he said.

"We had a good game on Saturday but let's show that we can go from good game to good game and put the effort in, in every single game.

"That's what it is about, as you said in recent years we came always out of the group stage. Last year, let's say it was difficulties because we made it difficult for ourselves and we have learned as well that in the group stage it's not only important to qualify but, if possibly, qualify as top of the group."

While PSG will be considered to be the main rivals to Wenger's ambitions of winning the group the 66-year-old, who celebrates 20 years in charge at Arsenal on October 1, acknowledges that Wednesday night's opposition can cause an upset.

"They are a team who are used to playing in the Champions League," he said of Basle.

"It's not a newcomer or a beginner in the Champions League, they have huge experience in the competition.

"This experience goes through the generations and this is why they're not intimidated. I don't expect them to be intimidated at all. On the other hand, they have nothing to lose. That's always dangerous."

Summer signing Granit Xhaka, a former Basel player, could make just his third Arsenal start as he is likely to be drafted in for the injured Francis Coquelin.

The Switzerland international replaced Coquelin after he suffered a knee injury in Saturday's 3-0 win, but Wenger revealed the prognosis of the Frenchman's injury was better than first expected.

Arsenal v Basel (Live Eir Sport 1/BT Sport 3, ko 7.45)

Promoted articles

Entertainment News