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Wednesday 28 August 2013

Champions League: Wenger hails 'consistent' Arsenal

Arsene Wenger praises Gunners' consistency as they reach group stage for 16th successive year

  • Ramsey volleys in his second goal for Arsenal against Fenerbahce

  • Wenger has guided his team into the Champions League group stage for 16 years running

  • Lukas Podolski is likely to be out for three weeks after suffering a hamstring injury

Arsene Wenger said it was a testament to the consistency of his side that Arsenal qualified for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League for the 16th consecutive season, thanks to a 2-0 triumph over Fenerbahce in the play-off second leg on Tuesday night.

"It's an achievement because if you look at the clubs in Europe who have done it, there are only three clubs that have done it in the whole of Europe"
Arsene Wenger

A goal in either half by the in-form Aaron Ramsey – his third of the tie – sealed a comfortable success for the Gunners, who won 5-0 on aggregate following their 3-0 victory in last week's first leg, to book their place in Thursday afternoon's group stage draw.

"I believe that at the top level, the most difficult is to be consistent," said Wenger, of his side's qualification for the group stage of the competition of the 16th year in succession.

"Of course it's an achievement because if you look at the clubs in Europe who have done it, there are only three clubs that have done it in the whole of Europe.

"I hear a lot that it's not enough and I agree with that. But still it shows that we have been remarkably consistent. Our ambition is much higher than that and I take that on board from everybody."

Podolski injured

The only drawback from Tuesday night's win was a hamstring injury that forced striker Lukas Podolski off four minutes into the second half and which Wenger said would rule the Germany international out of action for three weeks.

Ramsey and Jack Wilshere also picked up respective groin and ankle injuries but their manager was hopeful the midfielders would not be sidelined for Sunday's North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur.

"Jack should be all right for Sunday and I'm hopeful on Aaron as well," Wenger told Arsenal's website. "I don't know how bad it is. I took Ramsey off with three or four minutes to go but I don't know how bad it is."

Arsenal's record in Europe means they will be in pot one in Thursday's draw in Monaco, which takes place at 4.45pm BST. The Londoners are one of the eight top-seeded teams along with Manchester United and Chelsea, while the Barclays Premier League's other representative, Manchester City, will be in pot three.

The 2013/14 campaign will be the 12th successive season that four Premier League clubs are involved in the Champions League group stage.

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Key Points

  • Arsenal complete 2-0 UEFA Champions League play-off second-leg win over Fenerbahce
  • Aaron Ramsey scores twice as Gunners reach group stage for 16th successive season
  • Wenger hails 'consistency' of side's achievement, but rues hamstring injury to Lukas Podolski