Arsene Wenger says he’s not sure whether topping Champions League Group A will prove to be an advantage for Arsenal but that won’t stop his side from doing their utmost to beat PSG on Matchday 5.
The Gunners welcome the Ligue 1 champions to the Emirates on Tuesday knowing a win will secure them top spot in the group and the potential – on paper, anyway – to draw a slightly weaker side in the first knockout stage.
Arsenal have failed to progress to the quarter-finals for six successive seasons, a record that concerns the boss, although his short-term aim is getting his players firing on home turf again after Premier League draws with Sp*rs and Middlesbrough.
“I read this morning that Real Madrid are not sure whether it’s good to finish first or second,” he told his pre-game press conference.
“The problem is that if you finish second and get a bad draw, everybody says, ‘that’s your fault’.
“You want to finish first, knowing that. Is there an actual difference? I don’t know in a group of Real Madrid or Dortmund. The other groups might look at ours and think, ‘Paris Saint Germain or Arsenal – who is better? I don’t know’.
“But we want to finish first because we want to win the game. I think more than speculating, it’s more important for us to do the job. When you play at home against a big team, you want to win.
“When I tell you that we have been a bit stuttering recently, we played Tottenham, were 1-0 up and didn’t win the game, so we need to show that we can do that.”
PSG proved difficult opponents at the Parc des Princes in September squandering a host of chances to extend the early lead given to them by Edinson Cavani. Alexis Sanchez’s late strike saw the Gunners escape with a point but Wenger knows his players must cope better with the style of football played by Unai Emery’s side.
“I think we want to show that we can beat any style of team. That’s what we have done since the start of the season. We play a team with a different style, a team who play possession, slow and quick.
“We have to show that we can cope with that because they play a lot of possession and then suddenly they play quick with Cavani, Lucas Moura, they can accelerate a game. We have to show we can deal with that style, a different style to what we are used to. In England, we always play with power.”