Qualification for the Champions League is "compulsory" for Arsenal, according to Arsène Wenger.

The Frenchman leads his side in to the Christmas period occupying fourth place. It is where they finished last season and, Wenger argues, the minimum requirement this term.

However his ambitions are much loftier than that. He still believes Arsenal can mount a challenge for the title, although he admits he is "preaching in the desert" about that right now.

"To be in the Champions League is compulsory," said Wenger at Friday's pre-match press conference.

"If you build a new stadium for 60,000 your target is not to be out of the Champions League. The target is to be in there but we are not concerned by that right now.

"What is important is that we keep going as we are doing and see how we go. The target is to get the best out of the team until the end of the season. I do not want them to worry about more than that. I am convinced they are good enough to create a surprise but at the moment I preach in the desert.

"When you are manager you want the team to play to potential. I don't want them to be worried about the financial situation. It is not about that for them. You want them to be happy to play for the Club and enjoy their football. They are doing that and I am convinced we can do well.

"At the moment everyone says it is a two-horse race and we are not in it but we have to try to get back into there. We have the belief that we have the potential."

12/1 - Arsenal v Blackburn Rovers: Arsenal to win 3-1

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22 Dec 2006