Wenger warns his Gunners that they will have to be brave in Kiev, not chicken

Arsene Wenger is used to setting records after 12 years at Arsenal, but he will attempt to shrug off an unwanted statistic against Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday evening.

The nearly men of European football arrived in Ukraine last night for their annual assault on the Champions League without boasting a single victory in any of the former Soviet states in six attempts in club football's premier tournament. 

Emmanuel Adebayor

Call to arms: Emmanuel Adebayor wants Arsenal to prove they are serious Champions League contenders.

Although that fact is balanced by an appearance in the final against Barcelona in 2006, there is a chance to set the record straight in the Ukrainian capital.

A cautious Wenger said: 'Kiev get big support, but we have enough experience to deal with that. When you go into a game like this you have to play close to your full potential. In the Champions League you don't get away with any less.

'We've had some bad experiences in Russia and Ukraine. We have always been surprised by the enthusiasm and commitment in these places, but mentally we can cope with that. It is one advantage as it keeps us on our toes and mentally prepares us. But it was a remarkable performance for Kiev to knock out Spartak Moscow in the qualifying tie.' 


Arsenal arrived here in form, tucked behind Chelsea and Liverpool in the Barclays Premier League following their 4-0 destruction of Blackburn Rovers last Saturday but the European slog begins in earnest this evening.

Wenger's team are full of goals again and Arsenal will rely on the talents of Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor to settle this group long in advance of the final game in Porto on December 10.

Adebayor scored three times at Blackburn and looks like he is back to the form that led to him coveting a move to another club one minute, before signing a new contract with Arsenal next.

He said last night: 'This will be especially crucial because we are away in the first game. We now have all our confidence back in the Premier League and we're trying to build on it in Kiev but it won't be easy.

'It'll be very difficult and I believe that the squad are ready for it. So, as you say, a crucial win will help increase our confidence even more and make it a little bit better for us in the next stage. I think a lot of people believe it's going to be an easy one but I don't think so. I don't think it is going to be easy to pass through.

'We know that playing in Ukraine is going to be very difficult especially because their players are playing in front of their fans and will be doing everything to win the game.

'But we are Arsenal. We just have to believe in ourselves and if we can play our football, if we can stay patient and score the goals then, in the end, we'll win the game. That's what we're here for.'

Arsenal, however, have been European under-achievers. They appeared to have secured a place in last season's Champions League semi-final when Adebayor finished off Theo Walcott's wonderful run, but the celebrations were shortlived as Steven Gerrard scored the Liverpool penalty that eliminated the Gunners.

Alex's header was their undoing in PSV's triumph in the knock-out stages of 2007 and when Arsenal lost to Frank Rijkaard's Barcelona all-stars at the Stade de France in Paris in the previous season's final, Adebayor was cup-tied.

All this history, however, should help Arsenal this season, according to Adebayor. He added: 'We were in contention for the Champions League and the Premier League last season and at the moment we are winning matches and that is the most important thing.

'We had every chance to win the Champions League against Barcelona. I couldn't play back then because I was cup-tied and in my head it was difficult.

'Now I have a chance to play so there's an argument for me to be more hungry than most of my team-mates, but I think I'm not the only one.

'Cesc Fabregas lost in the final as well and Kolo Toure lost in the final, too, so to be honest I think all these players would like to win it.

'These are the things that we're going to pin together as brothers and help each other on the pitch and off the pitch to try to achieve something this season.

'I don't know whether we're going to win the Champions League or the Premier League but we have to achieve something because we have the quality within the squad.

'We just have to believe in the squad and believe in ourselves to do it.'

How they line up...

DYNAMO KIEV (4-4-2, probable): Shovkovskiy; Betao, Diakhate, Mikhalik, Nesmachniy; Ghioane, Yussuf, Vukojevic, Ninkovic; Bangoura, Mileskiy.
ARSENAL (4-4-2): Almunia; Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy; Eboue, Fabregas, Denilson, Walcott; Van Persie, Adebayor.
Referee: Luis Medina Cantalejo (Spain).
TV: Sky Sports 3, kick-off 7.45pm.

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