Friday 15 December 2017

Wenger: Focus needed to Fen-ish Turks off

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Picture: John Walton/PA
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Picture: John Walton/PA

ARSENE WENGER has told his Arsenal players to play at full throttle in tonight's Champions League qualifying second leg clash with Fenerbahce to secure a place in the group stages for a 16th successive season.

The Gunners beat Fenerbahce 3-0 in Istanbul last week, but a cautious Wenger plans to send out a full-strength side to complete qualification.

"It's a very, very important tie for us, because we want to be in the group stage the next day," Wenger said.

"If you want to knock somebody out you need attitude and commitment or you don't do it.

"That demands attitude and commitment and desire to play the game with full power, like we love to do it."

It will be the Gunners' first return to the Emirates Stadium since a 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa on the opening day of the Premier League season which provoked the fans' ire.

Supporters expressed frustration over Arsenal's perceived dithering in the transfer market which has seen them miss out on significant signings.

"I still am optimistic and I hope I will not disappoint you," said Wenger, who believes the transfer window should close before the season starts, but recognises Arsenal's need to augment the squad.

"We have not a fixed number (of signings in mind). I just think we are a bit short at the moment.

"I'm guided by my conscience to do as well as I can for this club and by the vision of the game I want to play.

"I feel with the players I have I can play the football we want to play.

"They are special and if I want to add something it has to be special."

One player in that bracket is Jack Wilshere, who will return to the starting line-up against Fenerbahce.

Wenger will continue to employ caution in his use of Wilshere, who has overcome a succession of long-standing ankle injuries and dropped to the bench for the win at Fulham.

"I don't want to make a mistake on the medical front and overuse him because the ankle is the most important part of a football player," Wenger said.

"I would be a bit more cautious (than with another player), until we feel he is completely free from any risk."

Arsenal v Fenerbahce, TV3/UTV, KO 7.45

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