Wenger gives his verdict on Champions League prospects

Date published: Thursday 24th November 2016 8:35

Arsene Wenger is adamant that his Arsenal side have “no reason to panic” despite the possibility of finishing second in the Champions League group stage for the fifth consecutive year following their 2-2 draw against Paris St Germain at the Emirates Stadium.

Edinson Cavani bundled home Blaise Matuidi’s low cross to give the reigning French champions the lead but Olivier Giroud levelled from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time after Grzegorz Krychowiak tripped Alexis Sanchez in the box.

Arsenal then took the lead after Marquinos’ clearance cannoned off PSG team-mate Marco Verratti to trickle past goalkeeper Alphonse Areola. The hosts failed to hold onto their lead as Lucas headed Hatem Ben Arfa’s corner past David Ospina courtesy of a deflection off Alex Iwobi.

Although qualification in the last 16 was already secured for the 14th successive season, the result saw the Gunners miss the opportunity to claim the victory that would have seen them go through as group winners. Despite their third draw in as many games, boss Wenger believes his side will convert those type of results into wins.

When asked if he would be glad when November is over, he replied: “No, I believe I have to be careful of the choice of my words because if I say stuttering it comes back in the next press conference.

“I think there is a special spirit in the squad and the consistency of the results. We are unbeaten for 18 games and sometimes you go through a spell with such momentum, where you win a little bit less. It’s down to us to continue without losing a game but to also to convert the draws into wins. But there is no reason to panic.

“Overall I believe that we were committed, for periods, dominant. But the start of the game was in favour of PSG because we let them play too comfortably, then in the last 20 minutes of the first half we pushed up and we came to make it 1-1.

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“We had a strong start again in the second half where we were dominant until it was 2-1. After we dropped off and did not maintain the pressure and we paid for that.”

With an eye on Arsenal’s possible last-16 opponents, Wenger is unsure if finishing second could be a bad omen, having been knocked out at that stage for the past six seasons.

“At the moment we are second but its not over,” Wenger said.

“We have a 90 per cent chance to finish second, but we wanted to finish first. At the moment we haven’t lost a game in this group. Overall we have done the job well. Will it be enough for us to finish first? I don’t know.

“Will it good or bad for us? I think we have to wait for the draw because if you look at all of the groups, you cannot really guess if it is good or bad.

“The advantage of finishing first is that you play the second leg at home. But for me, what is more disappointing is that we wanted to win the game and we didn’t win and that is disappointing.”

PSG remain top of Group A after the draw but Unai Emery believes his side have not secured top spot just yet.

“We still have to play against Ludogorets, but we’re currently top and that’s important,” Emery said.

“We deserved that in terms of the way the game went. We deserved a draw to secure top spot. Analyse the two games against Arsenal and we do deserve it.”

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