Arsenal prepared for crucial week insists Arsene Wenger
The Gunners play Blackburn and Bayern Munich over the next few days
Friday 15 February 2013
Manager Arsene Wenger accepts Arsenal are entering the defining period of their season, but sees no reason why his side should not be confident of winning the Champions League if they knock out Bayern Munich.
The Gunners host Blackburn in the fifth round of the FA Cup tomorrow in the first of a run of games which will see them tackle the German giants while also facing Barclays Premier League rivals Tottenham and Everton in what could prove to be crucial for their hopes of breaking back into the top four.
When Arsenal return from the Allianz Arena on March 13, the outlook of their campaign could be still on course for success or with little other than wounded pride left to play for.
"You go into the period at the end of February and March when every game will define your season," said Wenger.
"The FA Cup is an important target for us. We always take it very seriously, we are on a good run and we want to continue the run."
Wenger added: "We have a big game on Tuesday against Bayern. If we get past them, then why should we not go further and win it?
"It looks at the start that the FA Cup (trophy) is more reachable than any other competition, but you don't really know how difficult it will be.
"If you compare it to the Premier League certainly, we have more chances to do it because we are too far away in the Premier League."
Wenger is continually asked whether he would rather end a trophy drought which stretches back to the 2005 FA Cup, or secure qualification for the Champions League once again. His answer is always the same.
"The basic target is the Premier League," he said.
"The real consistency of the team is the quality and the quality is judged over 38 games. That is why I believe the real assessment of the quality of the team is the Premier League."
Wenger has enjoyed his own love affair with the FA Cup, winning the world's oldest knockout competition four times between 1998 and 2005.
The Arsenal manager is determined to avoid a second cup shock in the same season after crashing out of the Capital One Cup on penalties at Bradford.
"I always have to convince you that we take the competition seriously," he said.
"In 16 years I don't think we had (many) upsets against lower division teams, that shows that we take the competition seriously.
"We prepare for the game like a final every time, and that's why we have done reasonably well until now.
"We will take the game seriously again, and with a huge desire to win it."
Arsenal have fitness concerns over England midfielder Jack Wilshere, who went off at Sunderland last week as a precaution over a thigh problem.
Wenger said: "I will not take a risk. [That is because of] the rest of the season in mind and what happened to him before."
Captain Thomas Vermaelen should be back from his ankle problem, but fellow defender Laurent Koscielny (calf) will be assessed.
Ivory Coast forward Gervinho could be back in contention following the African Nations Cup.
"We will play a team who has a good chance to go through with experienced players," said Wenger.
"We only have big names in our squad, so it will be a team of big names, for sure."
One name not on the team-sheet, however, will be Andre Santos after the Brazilian full-back returned to his homeland on loan with Gremio.
Wenger maintains Santos could yet feature for the Gunners again.
"Santos moved because he'd lost a bit of confidence and he needs to play," said Wenger, who swooped for Spain international Nacho Monreal on deadline day.
"He is a very good football player, but didn't get enough games.
"Santos is more at ease in my opinion on the left of midfield, where there is a lot of competition.
"He will be back at the end of July, and of course he can have a future at Arsenal, but that depends as well on the ins and outs during the summer."
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