Oct 01, 2014

    Short-handed Gunners take on Galatasaray


    ARSENE Wenger has challenged Arsenal to kick-start their spluttering campaign with a crucial victory in today's Champions League clash against Turkish giants Galatasaray.

    Wenger's men have frustrated their manager with a series of flawed displays, securing just one win from their last six matches in all competitions, and the Gunners are desperate to stop the rot when Galatasaray visit the Emirates Stadium.

    To make matters worse, Wenger's midfield was decimated by injuries over the weekend, with Wales dynamo Aaron Ramsey, captain Mikel Arteta and England international Jack Wilshere all limping off in their 1-1 draw with Tottenham.

    Ramsey and Arteta will miss Galatasaray's visit, while Wenger hopes Wilshere can recover from his ankle problem in time to feature.

    Despite the injuries, Wenger knows a win over Galatasaray is essential if Arsenal are to avoid putting themselves in an awkward position in their battle to qualify for the knockout stages of Europe's elite club competition.

    "The positive is that we are unbeaten (in the English Premier League), but the negative is that we have missed four points from the quality of the games we have played," he said.

    "Our start was decent and now is the second block of games (after the season start) that will show how strong and good we are."

    Midfielder Santi Cazorla agreed, telling the club's website: "We are fully aware that we are almost obliged to win the next Champions League game because there may be problematic times for us if we don't, so we'd better win."

    Arsenal are in their 17th consecutive season in the Champions League, and not since 1999-2000 have they failed to progress from their group.

    But Cazorla warned his teammates not to be complacent, noting: "It's true that Arsenal have a great record when it comes to the group stage. However, all that history doesn't count now."

    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, whose goal salvaged the draw with Tottenham, also sounded a cautious note.

    Spurs drew first blood on Saturday by capitalising on Arsenal's desire to pass the ball out from deep in their own half.

    England midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain said: "That is the risk you take when you play the way we play football.

    "We send a lot of bodies forward in a positive and attacking fashion, and you do leave yourself at times a little bit vulnerable to the counter-attack.

    "It is just important that when we do, we have got people in the team that are willing to take the responsibility of holding back and being there to stop counter-attacks."

    Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker, who is likely to captain the team in the absence of Arteta, sees no reason to panic.

    The German centre-back is confident that the strong sense of togetherness among Arsenal's squad will help them emerge from their current rough patch.

    "We have good team spirit in the dressing room, so we have to show it on the pitch," he said. "Against Tottenham, we showed it in a good way, but we can do better.

    "Overall, it was a good performance and confidence is coming back."