Arsene Wenger believes that this afternoon's match with Wolverhampton Wanderers is more important "by far" than Wednesday night's Champions League game with Barcelona.
Arsenal host Wolves in a game that could see them close the gap behind Manchester United to one point should the leaders be defeated in the Manchester derby. As such, Arsenal's focus remains the Premier League.
Attention is naturally drawn towards Arsenal's next European fixture against the side that knocked them out of last year's competition. While Wenger acknowledged that the return of the Spanish champions to the Emirates would be an "interesting game," he was clear where his immediate focus lay: "For us, the best way to be in a good position to beat Barcelona is beat Wolves. This game is as important, if not more important, than Barcelona. In my opinion – more, by far.
"The other thing is that we have four days after this game to prepare for Barcelona. We play Saturday afternoon then Wednesday night, so there's no need [to rotate]. I concede that when it's Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, you have to make decisions."
Despite demands placed on Wenger's resources, he said the defining stage of the season required him to play his strongest possible sides in the league: "We started in August to fight for every single ball to be in a position to fight for the Premier League and now is the time of truth. This is the time for us to make in impact on the eague. We are in a strong position. It would be absolutely stupid now not to prioritise the Premier League. We go for four different challenges and only have a chance to achieve that if you can put your total focus in every single game. That's why it's so difficult and that's why it demands special mental strength and preparation. Mentally, to prepare for Wolves is the most important thing."
Arsenal's last Premier League game was a 4-4 draw with Newcastle United, during which Arsenal were four goals ahead at one stage. Wenger is sure the result will make his players stronger mentally: "Every result has a psychological impact. I am confident it will have a positive impact on the players."
Johan Djourou has been passed fit, while Denilson is expected to be available. Tomas Rosicky has not recovered from injury.Reuse content