By Rob Kelly
Arsène Wenger admits that Arsenal are favourites to top their Champions League group - but says it is essential to make a strong start.
Thursday’s draw in Monaco saw the Gunners placed into Group B alongside German side Schalke, Greek champions Olympiacos and Oliver Giroud’s former club, Montpellier.
They open their campaign at the French club on September 18, and Wenger says his side must hit the ground running.
“We will be favourites because we have the biggest experience in this group,” he told Arsenal Player.
“But we know by experience that the Champions League is the Champions League. Every team is a special occasion, it is always a cup game and you want to be serious and have a good start.
“We start in Montpellier, which is a difficult place with a lot of passion. Certainly there will be a lot of psychological investment for them in this Champions League, so for us it is important of course to be highly focused.
“Many players do not know the passionate atmosphere in the south of France and will be surprised - but we have the experience.
“I have not spoken to [Giroud] about it yet. It will certainly be a special occasion for him but what is important is that the team does well. We focus on the game and Giroud does too.”
Wenger says he expects similarly demanding tests against Schalke and Olympiacos over the course of the group stage.
‘Schalke are always strong. They are the most popular team in the league with the biggest support, a massive support,” he said. “Historically they are a massive club. Germany is a football nation, so you have no easy games.
“Olympiacos have beaten us convincingly over there and we have underestimated them a little bit [previously].
At the Emirates they gave us a tough time. We just won [last season], so we know that they are a good side. They are always at the top of the table in Greece and have a big experience in the Champions League.”
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