Wenger eyes early Xmas present with kind Champions League draw

07:34 05 December 2012

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger reacts during the defeat to Olympiakos. Photo credit: AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger reacts during the defeat to Olympiakos. Photo credit: AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

Manager Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal might need an early Christmas present of a kind draw for the knockout stages of the Champions League after a 2-1 defeat at Olympiakos which ended their hopes of seeding in the last 16.

With qualification already secure ahead of the last Group B tie, Wenger had elected to leave several first-team regulars behind as 20-year-old defender Jernade Meade made his European debut.

Although Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky fired the English side ahead on 38 minutes, the Greeks fought back through a somewhat controversial effort by Giannis Maniatis and a well-taken strike from substitute Kostas Mitroglou to leave Wenger facing more questions about the direction of his team - who have now not won in the last four and plummeted down the Premier League table.

Defeat in the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium for a second successive season coupled with Schalke’s draw in Montpellier means Arsenal will head into the knockout stages without the security of a top seeding.

Wenger, though, is not overly concerned. He said: “We need a good Christmas present now [in the draw], but we will see.

“We can get a bad draw or less strong team, but you normally get strong teams through anyway now.

“The disadvantage is we have is we play the second game away, but that is not statistically proven to be a such a disadvantage.

“Let’s see, but for now it is important for us to focus on the [domestic] championship, forget about the Champions League a little bit and get ourselves back in decent form in the championship.”

Wenger tried to remain upbeat despite the disappointing final outcome in Athens.

“We left eight or nine players at home and we had a positive game,” he said.

“We had a good first half, but we dropped physically in the second half because many players lack competition at that level and therefore we couldn’t take the chances for the second goal.

“We also got a very bad decision against us on the goal. I am not against the fifth referee, but you would like at least for them to be concentrated on their job, but that was not the case tonight, Wojciech Szczesny was far away from the ball.

“Why didn’t the fifth official tell the referee? It’s difficult to understand, to concede a corner when it doesn’t go off the goalkeeper.

“However, I don’t want to make a fuss of it, so we have to take it on the chin and go home and focus on our next game.”

Related articles


Latest Sport Stories

Yesterday, 20:00
Mauricio Pochettino (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Harry Kane fired Tottenham into the knockout stages of the Europa League as they finally overcame stubborn Group J minnows Qarabag 1-0 in Baku.

Yesterday, 19:50
Maksim Medvedev of Qarabag challenged by Christian Eriksen  (Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)

Spurs beat Qarabag 1-0 to qualify for the Europa League last 16 in Azerbaijan, here’s how we rated the players.

Yesterday, 18:36
Surrey winners of the Division 2 LV County Championship  (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

English cricket will break with tradition in 2016 after the England and Wales Cricket Board announced a new rule which will see the forsaking of the toss.

Yesterday, 12:24
Haringey Borough manager Tom Loizou. Pic: Tony Gay

Jerome Martelli struck the decisive goal as Haringey Borough earned a crucial home win in Saturday’s basement battle against Heybridge and climbed out of the relegation zone in Ryman League Division One North.

Yesterday, 12:05
Andreas Sotiri scored a try in his first game for Haringey Rhinos. Pic: Tony Gay

Andreas Sotiri scored a try on his debut for Haringey Rhinos’ Under-14s as a side featuring a number of young players put in an encouraging performance, despite their defeat to Chingford.

Yesterday, 11:56
Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino

Baku, Azerbaijan. The Spurs squad are halfway through a 5,000-mile round trip and face FK Qarabag this evening just 64 hours prior to another London derby - Chelsea are the visitors for a midday kick-off on Sunday at White Hart Lane.

Wed, 16:02
Chris Rainsford (left) in action on the road for Highgate Harriers. Pic: Dieter Perry

Highgate Harriers were crowned national champions on Sunday as the prestigious UK 10k road race championships were held as part of the 30th anniversary of the Age UK Leeds Abbey Dash.

Wed, 15:58
Great Britain's James Ward (far right) with Great Britain captain Leon Smith, Jamie Murray and Andy Murray

Great Britain stand on the verge of history in the Davis Cup as they prepare for this weekend’s final, bidding to win the crown for the first time in 79 years.

Most read sport

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


MAC Makeup

MAC are renowned for their flawless, fabulous make up that is used worldwide by the stars. You too can have the chance to have the perfect makeup to suit your needs with £1,000 to spend on all the glam goodies you like!


You are never far from an Argos, wherever in the country you may be. They are like a magical cavern where whatever you need they seem to have it out the back behind the counter. So why not put them to the test with this great MyOffers competition to win £1000 to spend in-store.

Digital Edition

Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder