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Arsenal set standard for play-off hopefuls

Published: Monday 24 August 2009, 18.43CET
Arsenal FC's 4-1 win against Portsmouth FC left Arsène Wenger cooing over an "exciting and interesting" decider to come against Celtic FC as surveys the play-off contenders' weekends.
Arsenal set standard for play-off hopefuls
Arsenal have got off to an excellent start ©Getty Images features

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Published: Monday 24 August 2009, 18.43CET

Arsenal set standard for play-off hopefuls

Arsenal FC's 4-1 win against Portsmouth FC left Arsène Wenger cooing over an "exciting and interesting" decider to come against Celtic FC as surveys the play-off contenders' weekends.

Arsenal FC's 4-1 Premier League win against Portsmouth FC left manager Arsène Wenger cooing over an "exciting and interesting" UEFA Champions League decider against Celtic FC as wraps up the play-off contenders' weekends.

With ten goals in two league games, either side of last week's 2-0 win at Parkhead, the Gunners are razor-sharp in front of goal at the moment and will hope their excellent early-season form continues at home to Celtic – themselves 5-2 winners against Saint Johnstone FC. Olympique Lyonnais are also hitting their stride, following up last week's 5-1 victory against RSC Anderlecht by beating AJ Auxerre 3-0 away on Saturday. FC Zürich also impressed with a 4-0 win at home to FC Luzern.

Sporting lose
Sporting Clube de Portugal drew 2-2 in the first leg of their play-off tie against ACF Fiorentina, and were the only weekend losers among the 20 contenders, going down 2-1 at SC Braga. Several sides did not have a competitive game, however, including Olympiacos FC whose Greek season opener against AEK Athens FC was cancelled because of wildfires around the Greek capital.

Arsenal FC v Celtic FC
Arsenal FC 4-1 Portsmouth FC
(Diaby 18 21, Gallas 51, Ramsey 68; Kaboul 37)
Arsène Wenger: "We have had a brilliant start. It should create confidence and momentum. We now go into another week which will be another test against Celtic and then Manchester United. It looks to be exciting and interesting. We want to make this place very special, and there is still some more work to do. However, you also have to accept the team have to get the people off their seats, not the other way around. Last year maybe we did not give enough belief to our fans, and maybe the belief of our fans had been affected by the negative publicity we got."
Celtic FC 5-2 Saint Johnstone FC
(Fortuné 21 54, Maloney 28 53, McDonald 74; Samuel 36, Morris 76)
Tony Mowbray: "We left Landry N'Guemo in the stands as he has played a lot of football and has a couple of international games coming up. If we have a chance to rest our international players, as we did today, we will do that. We are trying to beat ourselves with the goals we are conceding, but there was plenty of good things happening going forward. Marc-Antoine Fortuné was desperate to score but I know from last year at West Brom how good a footballer he is and what else he brings to the team."
VfB Stuttgart v FC Timişoara
BV Borussia Dortmund 1-1 VfB Stuttgart
(Valdez 27; Niedermeier 47)
Markus Babbel: "Dortmund weren't fluent in the first half, but we didn't take advantage. All in all the draw is ok, although we would naturally have preferred to win here. Looking at the second half, we are pleased to have taken a point. We lacked punch in the first half. We passed the ball nicely, but lacked the final decisive pass. We did not play very precisely and if we did and created a chance, one of our players slipped. These things make me angry, but I can rely on my boys. I had to rotate a number of players. We have 22 top players and the strain is only going to increase. We have lots of important games ahead."
AFC Unirea Urziceni 0-0 FC Timişoara
Ioan Ovidiu Sabău: "It was the best we've played since I have arrived here this summer. I am very satisfied with how we played, but not with the result. We were excellent in the second half, had very good possession for an away game and also created several goal opportunities. Their goalkeeper did his job and we failed to take our chances. We deserved to win, but we could have also lost in the last minutes of the match."
ACF Fiorentina v Sporting Clube de Portugal
Bologna FC 1-1 ACF Fiorentina
(Osvaldo 24; Mutu 65)
Cesare Prandelli: "We played well in the second half, creating many chances and scoring a deserved equaliser. In the first half we were too slow in attack even if we controlled the possession. It's always difficult when you are 1-0 down in away games but I'm happy with the reaction of the team in the second half because it was very hot and was not easy physically. We have to be more careful in defending against set-pieces."
Sporting Clube de Portugal 1-2 SC Braga
(Djalo 71; Alan 12, Meyong 81)
Carlos Pereira, Sporting assistant coach: "Sporting started the game well and created some chances but Braga scored with their first shot at goal. Sporting responded well, but that second goal ruined our strategy. Now we have to believe we can change things and get better and better. The season has just started. This team has already proved its strength. Maybe we will turn things around against Fiorentina."
Olympiacos FC v FC Sheriff
AEK Athens FC P-P Olympiacos FC (match postponed due to wildfires in Greece)
Temuri Ketsbaia: "We are close to qualification but there are still 90 minutes to be played. We left Moldova with a good result under our belts, but we need to produce another solid display at the Karaiskakis and win there as well."
FC Sheriff 0-0 FC Dacia Chişinău
Leonid Kuchuk: "We made two bad mistakes in the first leg and lost, but we should not look back over earlier mistakes. We aren't going to Greece just for experience. We have enough of that and I don't think that was the reason we lost the first match. Those who think we are already out of this are wrong and don't know our team."
APOEL FC v FC København
APOEL FC (no competitive fixture)
FC Midtjylland 1-4 FC København
(Olsen 29; Jorgensen 7 85, N'Doye 20, Vingaard 73)
Ståle Solbakken: "There is no doubt this was our best performance so far this season over 90 minutes. We moved very well for each other and did not play so many loose passes across the pitch. I was very pleased with Martin Vingaard [who was given a starting place after the APOEL game]. He has been very close to the starting lineup for some time and maybe he should have played a bit more than he has."
Debreceni VSC v PFC Levski Sofia
Debreceni VSC (no competitive fixture)
PFC Levski Sofia (no competitive fixture)
Georgi Ivanov, Levski sporting director: "We are doing our best to lift the team after the first-leg defeat, though time is tight. The players saw the mistakes they made in the first leg and we hope they will avoid them this time. The coaching staff is doing its best to ensure Levski have a different look in the second leg. If we play like we can we can overturn this deficit."
RSC Anderlecht v Olympique Lyonnais
SV Zulte Waregen 0-2 RSC Anderlecht
(Boussoufa 43, Lukaku 88)
Ariël Jacobs: "This victory gives us a lot of satisfaction. We came from a heavy defeat in Lyon and, although they are two different competitions, the match was still in our minds. After Lyon we had to try to get a good result here, but also we knew these opponents were eager to sink us. Thanks to discipline and solidarity we won here. I'm not saying that if we'd have played like this in Lyon we would have won there, but at least we would have looked different."
AJ Auxerre 0-3 Olympique Lyonnais
(Boumsong 31, Makoun 46, Pjanić 65)
Claude Puel: "We started slowly but it's nothing surprising after the game we played in midweek. We fielded players who lacked pace as they played for the first time this season. We also lost possession easily. We were lucky Hugo Lloris kept us in contention. We were lucky to break the deadlock against the run of play. In the second half we managed better and controlled the ball."
Maccabi Haifa FC v FC Salzburg
Maccabi Haifa FC 2-1 Hapoel Akko FC
(Katan 36, Arbeitman 89; Elmalich 53)
Elisha Levy: "Our main intention for this league opener was to tick a box and get off to a good start. I am glad we managed to do just that. Arbeitman is very focused in front of goal and has shown his maturity by coming off the bench."
SC Wiener Neustadt 1-1 FC Salzburg
(Aigner 10; Janko 40)
Huub Stevens: "It was a difficult match in difficult conditions. In the second half, we missed chances to make it 2-1 or 3-1. That's how we kept Wiener Neustadt in the match, that's why they threatened until full-time. I was very pleased with the morale my team displayed today. They reacted very well after conceding an early goal. I would have liked to win, but you also have to take a look at the way the game goes, and doing that you have to be pleased with a point sometimes."
FC Zürich v FK Ventspils
FC Zürich 4-0 FC Luzern
(Alphonse 60, Hassli 62, Vonlanthen 83, Djurić 90)
Bernard Challandes: "It is in games like these that you see a team's character and class. This was very beautiful football played at a very high level for Switzerland. The players have to feel that an important game lies ahead and that big things await them should they succeed. But everything is possible in football. We have not achieved anything yet. If we don't qualify for the Champions League after [our 3-0 win] in the first leg, we could become the laughing stock of Europe. It is just a chance, but maybe a bit of a worry as well."
FK Ventspils (no competitive fixture)
Nunzio Zavettieri: "I consider myself a realist. We can't really expect to qualify for the next round after losing 3-0. Our opponent is stronger than we are and that is a fact. However, they are not Milan or Internazionale and we will try to win away. Hopefully we will play our best throughout the 90 minutes, not just 75 as in Riga last week. We have a few small personnel problems, but that is not a key factor. The most important thing is to play more aggressively, with the desire to win every tackle."
Club Atlético de Madrid v Panathinaikos FC
Club Atlético de Madrid (no competitive fixture)
Abel Resino: "It would be a mistake to think that we've already completed our task as the current scoreline is a dangerous one to trust. Panathinaikos will be coming to Madrid desperate to qualify so we've had to do a lot of important psychological work with our players this week."
Ergotelis FC 0-3 Panathinaikos FC
(Cissé 9, Leto 40 90)
Henk ten Cate: "We are very happy with the three points we got today. We got our revenge for our defeats last season against Ergotelis. It is important to start the season with an away victory and without conceding; it does wonders for the team's confidence."
Last updated: 24/08/09 15.45CET

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