December 13 2013 Latest news:
Monday, August 26, 2013
Defender Carl Jenkinson believes progress to the Champions League proper is imperative not just for Arsenal’s recruitment prospects, but also for the development of their existing young talent.
Arsenal will on Tuesday play Fenerbahce, bidding to complete qualification for the group stages of the Champions League for a 16th successive year against a side they beat 3-0 in Istanbul last week.
Jenkinson is in line to feature at right-back, with Bacary Sagna again at centre-back, unless Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger opts to bring in Laurent Koscielny following his head injury in the first leg.
“We need to be playing at the pinnacle of football and that is the Champions League,” the 21-year-old said.
“If you want to improve and test yourself against the best players in the world, you have to be playing in the Champions League.
“It’s vitally important and that’s what makes tomorrow massive for us.
“It’s vitally important we go out there and finish the job.”
The second-leg clash will be Arsenal’s first home fixture since the 3-1 loss to Aston Villa on the opening day provoked the fans’ ire.
The Gunners responded in emphatic fashion, with a 3-0 win in Istanbul and Saturday’s 3-1 win at Fulham restoring confidence within the squad.
“After the first game everyone was down and I think it was important we responded quickly,” Jenkinson added.
“We did that against Fenerbahce and the last couple of games have given everyone that extra confidence that you need and hopefully we can go on a good strong run now.
“No-one wants to lose any game and, especially when you’re playing for Arsenal, you’re not expected to.
“To lose the first game at home was very tough on everyone. I think everyone took it a bit personally and looked at themselves and thought ‘that isn’t good enough’.
“The last two games we’ve performed exceptionally and everyone’s lifted their game, which was important. We’ve got to continue to do that if we’re going to be successful this year.”
Wenger has lauded Sagna’s merits as a centre-back despite question marks from elsewhere.
Jenkinson concurred with his manager’s thoughts on the France defender.
“Whenever he’s played there he’s been excellent,” Jenkinson said.
“He’s good in the air, he’s quick, which is nice to have that, and all-round he’s a very, very capable defender.
“He’s a great right-back as well. He’s versatile.”