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Wednesday 03 October 2012

Champions League: Wenger expecting Olympiacos backlash

Arsenal host Olympiacos; Man City greet Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League

Theo Walcott (left) and Andre Santos in training with Arsenal on Tuesday

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says his side intend to take out the frustrations of Saturday's Barclays Premier League defeat by Chelsea on Olympiacos in tonight's UEFA Champions League match.

The Gunners are seven points behind the Blues in the Barclays Premier League standings after their 2-1 home defeat by their London rivals but Wenger insists his side are looking to "put things right" against the Greek champions at the Emirates Stadium in their second encounter in Group B.

"They are still down, of course, but we have a Champions League game in front of us at home and we want to put things right"
Arsene Wenger

"The players are focused and disappointed that we lost the game," said Wenger. "They are still down of course, but we have a Champions League game in front of us at home and we want to put things right.

"There were a lot of positives in that game [Chelsea] as well, what was not good is easy to correct. I believe the championship is long, but we have to make sure the Champions League is long as well."

Despite Saturday's defeat the Frenchman believes his side have plenty of cause for optimism. "It is about how we respond," he said. "I am impressed by the mentality of my team, but the mentality is as well about how you respond to disappointment. I am confident we will, but that is what we want to show tomorrow."

Arsenal will be hoping to make it two wins from two Group B games tomorrow, having come away from Montpellier with three points on matchday one.

Olympiacos, whom Arsenal beat 2-1 at this stage last year, are without a point after losing their opener at home to FC Schalke 04 and Wenger knows the clash at the Emirates provides a chance to take charge of the group.

Greek backs against the wall

"Olympiacos are already in a position where their backs are to the wall because they have lost at home and in this Champions League when you lose at home it is very difficult,” said Wenger. "They are highly motivated to know they have to give everything to make it through. They are experienced and basically it is the same team [as it was] at the back of last season.

Wenger, who is serving the second of a three-game touchline ban, must make do without several key players, including goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who is still three weeks from a return from an ankle injury, as well as midfielder Tomas Rosicky and right-back Bacary Sagna.

Mikel Arteta faces a fitness test on an ankle injury, while midfielder Abou Diaby must endure a three-week lay-off after picking up a thigh strain against Chelsea.

Midfielder Jack Wilshere came through his first match in 14 months yesterday, but Wenger will not be rushing back the England international, who has been plagued by ankle, foot and knee injuries.

The 20-year-old stepped up his comeback by playing 63 minutes of the Gunners' Barclays Under-21 Premier League match at West Bromwich Albion.

"He came through it all right," Wenger said. "There was no reaction. We are pleased but it is now down to taking the right time to ease him slowly back. We are all very happy, and he especially must be exceptionally happy, but he has been out for 14 months."

Man City's Roberto Mancini calls for defensive improvement against Borussia Dortmund

Mancini's case for the defence

Manchester City are also in action against Borussia Dortmund tonight and manager Roberto Mancini has called upon his side to improve defensively after conceding 17 goals in all competitions so far this season.

City were beaten 3-2 by Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in their opening Group D opener, but with Dortmund having begun with a 1-0 win over Ajax, the pressure is on the Barclays Premier League champions to secure three points if they are to avoid a repeat of their group stage exit last term.

"We need to not concede easy goals to drop points like we did against Real Madrid"
Roberto Mancini

"This is the second year for us in the Champions League and the second year that we got the worst group," said Mancini. "Like we have improved [over the years] in the Premier League, we need time to improve in the Champions League, but we don't have a lot of time - only five more games, and we need to improve quickly.

"We need to not concede easy goals to drop points like we did against Real Madrid. If we want to go through, we need to improve very quickly. The problem is that you are always playing against the best team from another country and every game is difficult.

City midfielder Jack Rodwell is fit after missing two games with a groin problem, but full-backs Maicon (heel) and Micah Richards (ankle) are not yet ready to return to action, while centre-back Kolo Toure, who played in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League draw at Crystal Palace on Monday night, has not been registered for the competition.

Group B fixtures

Arsenal v Olympiacos (7.45pm)
FC Schalke v Montpellier (7.45pm)

Group D fixtures

Manchester City v Borussia Dortmund (7.45pm)
AFC Ajax v Real Madrid (7.45pm)

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Key Points

  • Arsenal looking to bounce back from Chelsea loss against Olympiacos in UEFA Champions League
  • Manchester City seeking their first group win at home against Borussia Dortmund
  • Both Arsene Wenger and Roberto Mancini are expecting improvement from their teams