The Gunners boss believes his team have what it takes to go all the way in Europe this season while backing Kieran Gibbs to follow in Ashley Cole’s footsteps
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes his side can break into the elite group of teams in the Champions League despite defeat in the opening match of their campaign.
The Gunners were beaten 2-0 by Borussia Dortmund on matchday one, with many moving to write off their chances of winning the competition following a limp performance.
But Wenger believes his team have what it takes to see off the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich to lift the trophy for the first time in the club’s history.
“Maybe the Champions League was more open 15 years ago,” he told reporters. “The concentration of the big players in a small number of clubs is much more than it was before.
“It’s much more predictable today, the outcome of the Champions League, than it was 10 years ago. It’s harder to win it.
“If you make a poll tomorrow and say to people ‘give me four clubs who will win the Champions League’, 80 or 90 per cent of people will say these four clubs.
“I don’t think we are one of the four who will be favourites to win it, but football is strange, and not always predictable. Let’s first qualify from the group stage and see.”
Wenger, meanwhile, was also keen to praise the recent performances of left-back Kieran Gibbs.
After struggling with injuries for much of his career at the Emirates Stadium, the 25-year-old has been able to string together a number of eye-catching performances this term.
And his boss believes that an England recall will not be far away, while he also admitted that Gibbs reminds him a lot of former Arsenal defender Ashley Cole.
“I wouldn’t like to say I think Kieran should be recognised in the England squad, I think he will be if he performs like he did on Saturday against Tottenham.
“For England with Ashley Cole for a long time was no discussion. Now it’s a bit more open.
“I have spoken many times to Kieran about England and we try always to show him confidence. I let Gael Clichy go because Kieran was a young English left-back and I wanted to give him a chance.
“He looks to me that Kieran’s going into second gear now and he realises that he can trust his body, he can trust his talent. On Saturday as well he showed his personality to impose himself on the game, all the talent is there.
“He can dribble as well, because when he arrived at the club he was 16 and he was a winger and I saw he was intelligent and maybe I could transform him into a defender. It was a bit similar to Ashley Cole.
“It’s a good example to follow because Ashley’s top. You see stories about Ashley Cole but on the day of a game, when it mattered and when you had to be there, he was always there.”
Arsenal host Anderlecht in their second Champions League group game on Wednesday.