Arsenal v CSKA Moscow – Arsene Wenger plays down Europa League expectations: We don’t live in dreamland
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With the Gunners playing their first European quarter final in eight years hopes are rising the club can mount a serious challenge for silverware in the continent’s second tier competition.
However the long-serving Frenchman has played down hopes of landing the club’s third European trophy as they prepare to face CSKA Moscow at the Emirates on Thursday evening.
They face a tough test against Viktor Goncharenko’s side that knocked out the highly-rated Lyon side in the last round.
Ahead of the tie Wenger cautioned fans, saying: “We don’t live in dreamland.
“We are in a quarter-final and we have to be very realistic and go step by step and give everything to go through in the quarter-final. Then we’ll see.
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“This team already has a big experience of playing in the Europa League and the Champions League, so the only thing we can do is stick together to win the first game.
“It’s very important to get a good result before the second leg. Obviously we’re going to try to do everything to go as far as we can.”
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With Arsenal accounting for Ostersunds and AC Milan in two previous knock-out rounds – albeit with both ties being won after the first leg following excellent performances away from home – the onus is on Wenger’s side not to concede an away goal in the first leg in North London.
He added: “Russian teams always have a good technical level. They have a good football culture, a long history in the game.
“You always respect them. Personally, I always had difficult games against Russian teams. We know that we face a tough opponent.
“There is some extra pressure on us to do extremely well in this competition. That’s part of being where we are.
I must say we have to see it in a way that it’s an opportunity we want to take and keep the priorities right - that means focusing on how well we play together, on the quality of our game, on how we want to play football. After, the consequence will be a positive result.”