Wenger says Uefa finance rules will fail


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The Independent Football

Arsène Wenger, with his Arsenal team on the brink of reaching the Champions League knockout stages, fears Uefa's commitment to financial fair play (FFP) will be impossible to implement.

Europe's governing body has threatened sanctions against clubs who fail to start balancing the books, including bans from their elite competitions. Yet Wenger believes the power of clubs such as Manchester City, Malaga and Paris St-Germain will prove too great.

Wenger has previously accused rivals of "financial doping", and last week City announced an annual loss of £194.9m. With the Swiss team FC Sion taking Uefa to court recently, the Frenchman sees control shifting.

"When I see the number announced by Man City, do you really think it [FFP] will work in 2013? I cannot see it when the wage bill is bigger than the turnover. Frankly, that cannot happen in one year," Wenger said.

"And secondly, with what happened with Sion challenging Uefa, they have lost a lot of power. We live in a world where any decision made is challenged. The authority of the legal affairs is challengeable everywhere.

"Will Uefa be capable to force it through? I question it. In other countries, you have as well Paris St-Germain, Malaga as well. Once they represent a force together, it will be difficult to fight against."

With their self-sustaining financial model, Arsenal will reach the knockout stages of Uefa's elite club competition for the 12th consecutive season if they defeat Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates tonight.

Robin van Persie started Arsenal's last European match on the bench but such is the importance of getting a result, the Netherlands forward will start tonight. Abou Diaby also returns to the squad as Wenger's team look to stretch their unbeaten run to nine matches. "Every player and member of staff is conscious it is a big night for us," Wenger said. "It's another big test of our solidity. We will go into it with a desire to win the game.

"Our consistency has helped the team improve. And qualifying from the Champions League group will give us a lift again. For us it is vital. The two priorities for us are the Premier League and the Champions League. We are focused on those."

Tottenham Hotspur, the last team to beat them, are providing a challenge to Arsenal's place in the domestic top four, although Wenger suggested yesterday that there is room for both of them in the Champions League qualification places.

The rivalry has prompted Jack Wilshere, the midfielder, to pledge £3,000 to charity should Tottenham finish above their neighbours. "I hope the charity gets a lot of money because they have a lot of supporters," Wenger said.

Wenger was less jovial when it came to Emmanuel Adebayor, the former Arsenal striker, who is leading the Spurs attack while on loan from City but is not permitted to play against his parent club. "If the loan is a loan he should be capable to play against everybody," Wenger said. "That is the only thing I believe. There was one period where you had the choice and I never, never refused the choice. I always said yes, you can play against us.

"I allowed [Jermaine] Pennant to play against us with Leeds and I always allowed the players to play."

Key confrontations

Robin van Persie v Mats Hummels

The young Germany international has won 12 caps and is considered one of the better defenders in the Bundesliga. The tall 22-year-old will face the unenviable task tonight of shackling Van Persie, arguably Europe's most dangerous and in-form striker.


Andre Santos v Mario Gotze

Santos has improved in recent weeks, striking a better balance between attack and defence, but the German wunderkind has scored three in his last three games, including the winner at Bayern Munich last week. The attacking midfielder been linked with Arsenal.