Wenger: Home form vital in CL

The Gunners had to come through a tough play-off tie against

Udinese to secure their place in the group stages of Europe’s elite

club competition once again. After opening with a hard-fought 1-1

draw at Borussia Dortmund two weeks ago, Arsenal will host Greek

side Olympiacos on Wednesday night. Wenger’s men have always been

impressive in north London – recording convincing wins in each of

their group games last season before a memorable 2-1 victory over

Barcelona, only to crash out in the Nou Camp. The Arsenal manager

is expecting more of the same this time around. “In the Champions

League, you need 11 points to qualify [from the group stage] – that

means you have to take nine at home and two or three away,” he

said. “We got an interesting point in Dortmund and we know after if

we do well at home, then we will qualify.” Arsenal almost snatched

what would have been a rare away European win at Signal Iduna Park,

where a fine late volley from Ivan Perisic secured a share of the

spoils for the Germans. Despite Robin van Persie having put the

Gunners ahead just before the break, they spent much of the game

being given the runaround by Juergen Klopp’s well-drilled side. Van

Persie feels the hard-earned point against last season’s Bundesliga

winners has given Arsenal a strong platform on which to build as

they aim to take a step closer to the knockout phase by turning

over Olympiacos, who lost their opening Group F game 1-0 at home to

Marseille. “We achieved a good result in Dortmund, even if their

late goal might make that sound a bit strange,” the Arsenal captain

said. “They are the German champions and their running and fitness

was phenomenal – I gather they broke every national record in their

statistics for high-speed runs, distance runs, every kind of run

last season and the average distance run by their players against

us was 12.5 kilometres. That is a lot – it means they were closing

us down well and making it hard for us to play. “You could see we

found it difficult to string passes together and it was clear we

were playing against a top team. “Looking at the situation as a

whole, they really pushed us to the limit, so it is a good result

and a decent start in the Champions League.”