Wenger won't give up on Milan tie

PA Sport
Arsene Wenger
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Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger believes wiping out AC Milan's 4-0 lead to go on and reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League tonight would rank alongside his greatest achievements at Arsenal.

The Gunners boss has called on his players to believe they can rewrite the record books to recover from their humiliation at the San Siro. In his 16 seasons at the helm, Wenger, 62, has claimed the English game's top prizes, winning the double twice and going through the 2003-04 Premier League campaign unbeaten as well as reaching the 2006 Champions League final.

Asked whether beating Milan to qualify against the odds would compare with his past achievements, Wenger said: "Certainly. I would be extremely pleased and happy with it. I have a gut feeling the players can do it and my job until 7.45pm tonight is to convince them they can do it."

Only three clubs have recovered from such a first-leg deficit in the history of European competitions, but those were back in the mid-1980s.

Milan, though, somehow managed to go out to Deportivo La Coruna in the 2003-04 quarter-finals having won 4-1 at home, losing the second leg in Spain 4-0.

Wenger added: "Sometimes when you made a big score, the difficulty is always psychological.

"When you have made a big lead, you think you just need to turn up and make sure you defend well, and the other team has nothing to lose so they just go for it."

Arsenal are short of options in midfield, with Czech playmaker Tomas Rosicky facing a late fitness test on a groin problem and Mikel Arteta needing to rest for a week after suffering a blow to the head in a collision with Jordan Henderson during Saturday's 2-1 Premier League win at Anfield.

However, the Gunners still have plenty of firepower in attack, with the likes of Theo Walcott, Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all ready to support 31-goal skipper Robin van Persie.

"Basically I have only two midfielders, with (Alex) Song and Rosicky. That means we have to play with four strikers," said Wenger. "But I can play six strikers if I want, I have enough, I have (Marouane) Chamakh, Park (Ju-young), Van Persie, Gervinho, Walcott and Chamberlain."

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