By Richard Clarke

Arsène Wenger believes the “massive challenge” of Dynamo Kyiv will be so great on Wednesday night that he would even settle for a draw.

It is unusual for the Arsenal manager to talk in those terms ahead of such a crucial clash. But then Wenger has been to the Ukraine three times in the past decade – twice to Kiev, once to Donetsk – and has lost on every occasion.

Those defeats were played between October 21 and November 7 in their respective years. This game comes five weeks earlier and well before winter sets in. Wenger concedes that is an advantage but he argues that Dynamo Kyiv remain a huge obstacle.

“It is a tough place for us to go,” he said. “It is maybe a little bit better for us to play earlier but I am convinced it will still be a massive challenge. We’ll go there and try to win the game but even if we take a point then for me it will be a good start.

“Dynamo Kyiv knocked out Spartak Moscow 4-1, 4-1 [in each leg of their qualifying game]. When you know Spartak Moscow and how strong the Russian League is at the moment that means it is a tough draw. I saw the first game at Spartak Moscow and Dynamo Kyiv were really impressive.

“Our group has four teams who are all used to playing in the Champions League – Fenerbache, Porto, Dynamo and us. Anyone can take points off anyone that’s why for me it’s very important we start well in this game.”

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16 Sep 2008