Wenger wary of another cup knockout

Manager urges Arsenal to adapt after coasting through Champions League group

Now for the hard part. That, with due deference to Liverpool's travails, is how Arsenal will feel having eased into the knockout stages of the Champions League on Tuesday. Unlike the Merseysiders, Arsenal have usually made short work of the competition's opening group stage. Their problems come thereafter.

This is the 10th successive season Arsenal have made it out of the group stages, but only five times have they progressed to the quarter-finals, twice moving on to the semi-finals, and once, when they lost to Barcelona in 2006, reached the final. It is a poor return compared with Chelsea's five semi-finals in six seasons, while Liverpool and Manchester United have both reached two finals, winning one, in the last five years.

During this decade-long quest Arsenal have achieved some impressive results, knocking out Real Madrid, Juventus and Milan, but they have also been put out by Deportivo la Coruña and PSV Eindhoven; plus, of course, Chelsea, Liverpool and United.

"I'm pleased to qualify because this competition is not easy and over the 10 years we have been consistent," said Arsène Wenger. He added: "I believe we can go further this season but there are two competitions in the Champions League: one is a championship, one is a cup. We now move into that cup stage and that's very different psychologically. Every minute becomes important. We have to adapt to that."

Nigel Winterburn, a member of the team that won the Cup-Winners' Cup in 1993, and a player in their early Champions League campaigns, said he believed it was just a matter of time before Arsenal broke through.

"When I played we were inconsistent in the Champions League," he said. "Once you start making the knockout stages it is about performances over two legs and getting a bit of luck. You are aiming to make the quarter-finals every year, then eventually you will get to a final and win.

"If you don't perform in one leg of a tie then you usually go out. Unlike in the groups, where you get second chances, you can't make mistakes. Arsenal have made them in the past, but they are going the right way. The Champions League suits them, but it depends on form and injury. Arsenal have made a final, and were unlucky not to win. People say they do not have enough experience; it's an easy statement to make but I'm not convinced it's true. Younger players have no fear."

Wenger said he hoped, when the knockout stages began in February, that Arsenal would be "in a strong position in the league as that will give us confidence." To an outsider their European prospects might seem better if they were focusing on that but Winterburn explained why his former manager thought otherwise. "It's rubbish to think players can focus on this or that. You can't just switch it on and off. It doesn't happen like that.

"That is especially so with Arsenal because of the way they play. Their game is more complicated than a lot of teams. There is a lot of movement on the ball and around it and they need a high level of performance. When confidence is low players delay even simple things so if two or three players are off form it all breaks down."

Traoré keen to repay Wenger's loyalty as he steps in for Gibbs

With Kieran Gibbs expected to be out until February following yesterday's operation on the metatarsal he broke against Standard Liège on Tuesday, Armand Traoré is in line to deputise against Chelsea on Sunday, and beyond.

The 20-year-old impressed in the Carling Cup final in 2007 but his form dipped and he had been overtaken by Gibbs as the understudy to Gaël Clichy, who is also injured. Now comes his chance to impress and, he hopes, justify Arsène Wenger's continued faith in a player he signed from Monaco. "The boss has always shown confidence in me; even when I've been injured and not played for a while he's retained that and it's very important to me."

Traoré, who played 28 games on loan at Portsmouth last season, often in midfield, suggested before Gibbs' injury that he would talk to Wenger at the end of the season if he did not get a run of games. Now he has the chance to do his talking on the pitch.

Glenn Moore

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices