By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger says he would feel “guilty” if Arsenal did not win Champions League Group G and ended up with a tough draw in the Knockout Round.
The Frenchman flies out to Porto on Tuesday afternoon safe in the knowledge that his side are through to the last 16 and require only a point to top the table.
In theory that means an easier draw in the Knockout Round as you are pitched against one of the runner-up teams and will have the second leg at home. In reality, however, it may mean little as many of Europe’s top sides are set to finish second in their groups.
“It is difficult to say [if it will be important] but would we not feel guilty if we had a massive draw in the last 16?” asked Wenger. “We would have not done something when we know it can punish us.
“We want to finish first because we want to be the best. But it does not seem that first or second will make a huge difference this year.”
With qualification assured and the team still rebuilding confidence in the Premier League, there is a possibility Wenger may shuffle his squad for this game. Certainly Cesc Fabregas was struggling with his knee after Saturday's win over Wigan and may not be taken.
As usual, Arsenal.com will have the travelling party at around lunchtime on Tuesday. It is likely to be a balancing act as Wenger safeguards progress in his two main targets this season.
“I want to combine both,” he said. “I want to protect the team for the 12.45pm kick-off at Middlesbrough but as well finish the job in the Champions League and not lose at Porto.”
|2. FC Porto||5||3||0||2||7||8||9|
|3. FC Dynamo Kyiv||5||1||2||2||3||4||5|