Wenger issues rallying call

21 August 2013 09:46

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has challenged his players to rise above the negativity surrounding the club's disappointing start to the season and deliver the required performance in the first leg of their Champions League play-off tie against Fenerbahce in Istanbul.

Following the opening-day 3-1 home defeat by Aston Villa, heading to the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium with qualification for the lucrative group stages on the line is hardly ideal.

However, it presents a test of character Wenger is confident his men can overcome in the wake of criticism of a lack in depth and lack of summer spending, with Newcastle manager Alan Pardew hitting out over the timing of a formal bid for midfielder Yohan Cabaye, believed to be £10million.

"You just want to prepare as well as you can and bounce back very quickly from Saturday with a good performance which is what I think we will do," said Wenger, who will have to do without England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for up to three months because of a knee injury.

"Everywhere we go we try to win the game and that is the attitude we have. Again, we will try to play our game as we do everywhere.

"We have been everywhere in Europe in all the big stages and seen heated atmospheres, but we always try to play."

Fenerbahce's place in European competition is yet subject to a full hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport after being found guilty of match-fixing by UEFA.

Wenger, though, is not going to let any possible repercussions impact his team's preparations.

"Honestly we don't really know the story so we don't want to speak about that. We want to win on the pitch. That's all we want to focus on," said Wenger, whose side won 5-2 here on their last visit in the group stages during October 2008.

Wenger has so far missed out on his main transfer targets Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez, while north London rivals Tottenham again look set to smash their transfer record with an ambitious £30million deal for Anzhi Makhachkala forward Willian.

Source: PA