Wenger wants Gunners to be ‘clever’
Arsene Wenger feels Arsenal must be "clever" and use all of their Champions League experience to get the right result when European action resumes away to Porto next week.
The Gunners – with doubts over the fitness of Andrey Arshavin and Alex Song – have seen their Barclays Premier League title hopes rekindled following victory against Liverpool on a night when both leaders Chelsea and Manchester United dropped points.
Wenger, though, knows a two-legged European tie represents a whole new ball game, where there will be no room for another below-par performance.
Arsenal were finalists in 2006, and last season reached the semis, only to come unstuck against a rampant United side.
Wenger feels the Gunners, who cruised through the opening group phase, can produce the needed performance at the Estadio do Dragao.
"The minimum requirement is not to lose the game and be out of the tie," the Gunners boss said.
"A clean sheet will do, but we are team who will not hide – we want to play.
"However, we want to make sure defensively we are okay."
Wenger told Arsenal TV Online: "In the last 16 of the Champions League, you have to play well for 180 minutes and if you do not do that, you are out.
"It will be two ties, so let’s be clever and use our experience of the Champions League to take advantage of the fact we play the second leg at home."
Arsenal have plenty of recent history to call on against the Portuguese side.
However, the Gunners are yet to win at the Estadio do Dragao – losing 2-0 last season when already qualified, but a result which cost them top spot in their group. In December 2006, the sides played out a goalless draw as both went through to the knockout stages.
Wenger accepts the club which Jose Mourinho took all the way in 2004 will be no pushovers.
The Arsenal manager said: "From the outside, sometimes you are seen as favourites, but that does not matter.
"Porto have been consistently in the Champions League and you know you will get a tough game, so I will not be surprised."
Arshavin has revealed he expects to miss the first leg in Porto because of a hamstring injury.
Arshavin picked up the injury in the midweek win over Liverpool and a scan on Thursday revealed the injury was bad enough for the Russian to miss the trip to Portugal.
But he expects to be fit for the following match with Sunderland in the Premier League.
"If all goes well, I get back on the pitch as early as the next Premier League match against Sunderland," Arshavin told Russian newspaper Sport Express.
"However, the next game against Porto in the Champions League I will miss."
With Arshavin seemingly out and Song troubled by his knee, Arsenal could welcome back striker Eduardo.
The Croatian, 27 later this month, has been hampered by a succession of niggling injuries since battling back to fitness from a broken leg.
Wenger accepts it has been a frustrating campaign for the versatile frontman, who has six goals to date, but drew a blank in his last five matches before injury against Aston Villa three weeks ago.
"Eduardo has shown signs in training that he is getting sharper again," said the Arsenal boss.
"It takes a long time to recover when you have been injured as he was, but he is getting stronger and stronger.
"It is not a worry that he does not score – I told him that, once you start to make assists, it is the same as scoring and that, for me, there is no difference.
"I said the same to Robin van Persie earlier in the season. Don’t forget that, at the start of the season, Robin made several assists, but did not score.
"The goals will come – the team gives you back what you give to the team, so it is just a question of patience."