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Topping the group is our priority – Wenger

Arsene Wenger says Arsenal’s number-one priority is to top their Champions League group and avoid encountering heavyweights like Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the last 16.

Arsenal sit at the summit of Group A, leading Paris Saint-Germain thanks to the away goal from their 1-1 draw in the French capital last month, and could book their place in the next round when they take on Ludogorets on Tuesday.

A win would be enough in Bulgaria as long as PSG avoid defeat at Basel.

But Wenger insists the primary goal is to emerge from the group as winners and avoid a tricky last-16 draw.

“Finishing first is our prime target,” he told a news conference. “We have played Paris Saint-Germain away, and play them at home to come.

“We have a good opportunity to finish top. It is an advantage because you play the second game in the last 16 at home, so you know exactly what you have to achieve at home.

“You have the support. If it goes to extra-time or penalties, you play at home. So it’s a little advantage.

“But if you can finish first, why finish second? We have paid the price many times when we’ve finished second, having to play Barcelona or Bayern Munich. So we think it’s important.”

Nacho Monreal, Santi Cazorla, Hector Bellerin and Theo Walcott have not travelled with the squad to Bulgaria, but Wenger is not overly concerned by their injury problems.

“Some of them are very close, like Walcott,” he added. “Bellerin had a little incident in the last minute of training, so they are not here.

“We have some very important games in front of us. But we need to continue to do what we’ve done until now by just focusing on the next game. We have to try to win and then we have Tottenham at home on Sunday.

“The best way to prepare for that is for us to continue our strong run. It’s important to keep a good balance between vigilance and confidence.

“We’ve had difficult Novembers in previous seasons, but we’ve also had positive ones in our history too. The most important thing is to not live with the past, we have to live with the team we have at the moment.

“Our destiny lies in the minds of the players, how strong our focus is and how hungry we are. We need to be like that in every single game, starting tomorrow [Tuesday].”

Mon 31 Oct, 2016
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