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Wenger: Arsenal must believe

05 Mar 2012 15:47:16

Wenger: Arsenal must believe

Arsene Wenger called on his Arsenal team to believe they can rewrite the record books and overturn AC Milan's 4-0 lead to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Tuesday night.

After what he described as a "shocking performance" at the San Siro a fortnight ago, Wenger felt little genuine hope of progress. However, after two morale-boosting victories over Tottenham and then Liverpool to kickstart their Barclays Premier League campaign, the Arsenal manager will take only positive thoughts into the European showdown.

"I said I don't live in a dream world - that means I know we have not created an easy situation, but when you are a top-level competitor, even if statistically we have a 5% chance, what is important is that we believe that we can be in this 5% chance," Wenger said.

"That is what is at stake for us - to show that we have the quality to believe we can do it, even if it is only 5%. Let us make sure that we do not miss out chance because we did not believe in it."

Only three clubs have recovered from such a first-leg deficit in the history of European competitions, but those were back in the mid-1980s. Milan, though, somehow managed to go out to Deportivo La Coruna in the 2003/04 quarter-finals having won 4-1 at home, losing the second leg in Spain 4-0.

Arsenal are short of options in midfield, with Czech playmaker Tomas Rosicky facing a late fitness test on a groin problem and Mikel Arteta needing to rest for a week after suffering a blow to the head in a collision with Jordan Henderson during Saturday's 2-1 Premier League win at Anfield.

However, the Gunners still have plenty of firepower in attack, with the likes of Theo Walcott, Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all ready to support 31-goal skipper Robin van Persie.

Wenger said: "I know my players well, I know they have been hurt by the first result, and I know they have their pride.

"They will come out tomorrow and give a performance. We lost 4-0 at Milan, but they had five shots on target and we had 55% possession there and we didn't play well at all.

"If they can score four we can as well, why not? It is important that we believe we can do it. Your belief is stronger when your recent results have been good."


PA

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