Wenger insists Arsenal will not exit Europe

Gunners will be eliminated if Olympiakos avoid defeat to Bayern

LONDON • Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal can still salvage their calamitous Champions League campaign as they prepare for today's do-or-die showdown with Croatian outfit Dinamo Zagreb.

Wenger's side are on the brink of a stunning failure to make the knockout stages for the first time in 16 years after three defeats from their four Group F fixtures.

The Gunners must beat Dinamo at the Emirates Stadium to keep their hopes alive, but even that will not be enough to avoid elimination if second-placed Olympiakos, who sit six points ahead of Arsenal, draw or win at Bayern Munich.

Yet, if results go Arsenal's way in midweek, they will travel to Olympiakos for their final group match on Dec 9, knowing a win could send them through depending on the margin of victory.

And Wenger remains convinced Arsenal can find a way to stage one of the great European escape acts.

"We will give absolutely everything to stay in the Champions League," the Frenchman said. "I think we still have a strong chance but it will be very tight now."

Wenger's hopes will have been raised by a period of turmoil for Dinamo, who were hit by two scandals within three days last week.

Their chief executive Zdravko Mamic was arrested on Wednesday for alleged transfer irregularities, while midfielder Arijan Ademi was handed a four-year doping ban on Friday.

The French manager, though, is just focused on giving Arsenal the best possible chance to advance.

"I want to stay in the Champions League so let's just try to win our last two games." he said.

Arsenal, without a win in their last three games in all competitions, endured the worst possible warm-up for today's clash when they crashed to a 2-1 Premier League defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

As if suffering the damaging result was not bad enough, Wenger, already without Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck, left the Hawthorns with two new names added to his growing injury list.

Francis Coquelin suffered a knee problem and Mikel Arteta suffered a recurrence of a calf injury.

Wenger may now be forced to rush Wales midfielder Ramsey back into the team after his hamstring problem.

Dinamo will be without Macedonian Ademi after he was given a four-year ban by Uefa after failing a drugs test.

Ademi insists he is innocent, while his coach Zoran Mamic told the club's website: "To punish a player for four years after the experts proved that he took a contaminated supplement is senseless."

Dinamo at least eased some of their off-pitch woes with Friday's 2-1 win at Slaven Belupo Koprivnica, which kept them second in the first division.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2015, with the headline 'Wenger insists Arsenal will not exit Europe'. Subscribe