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.”Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source