Arsène Wenger may have felt "physically sick" after a shock weekend defeat but the Arsenal FC manager was back in defiant mood 48 hours later as he looked forward to Tuesday's Group G visit of FC Porto.
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Arsène Wenger may have felt "physically sick" after Arsenal FC's surprise defeat by Hull City AFC but the Frenchman was back in defiant mood 48 hours later as he looked forward to Tuesday's Group G visit of FC Porto, insisting his team had the quality to go all the way in the UEFA Champions League this season.
'We have the quality'
Citing his players' quality, desire and ambition, Wenger said: "We had a very disappointing result against Hull but I've been sitting on the bench long enough to know if you play this game 100 times you lose it one time. I believe we will win [on Tuesday]. We want to make sure we win, we want to get the right belief into our game. Everybody thinks we should not have any chance to win the Champions League – I believe we have enough quality to do it and that is what we want to show."
Saturday's 2-1 loss was Arsenal's first reverse on home soil in 37 matches and Wenger admitted his players did not have the "right focus levels", explaining: "Maybe we were guilty in that at 1-0 we thought we'd done the difficult part." Yet he underlined there would be no danger of complacency against the Portuguese champions as Arsenal look to build on their 1-1 draw at FC Dynamo Kyiv on Matchday 1, when Porto beat Fenerbahçe SK 3-1. "We have had a draw at Kiev and we know the home games will be decisive in our qualification," said Wenger, whose side have not lost a European home tie since spring 2004. "Porto had a convincing victory against Fenerbahçe and knowing Fenerbahçe's team, with its basis of Brazilians and Spanish, that tells me a lot about their quality so we'll take them very seriously."
Playing to win
Porto may have opened with a win but history suggests they will find the going tougher on English soil. They have lost on nine of ten previous visits, including a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal in September 2006. Yet coach Jesualdo Ferreira stressed that they would play to win. "Porto don't have a good record in England – we have never won a game here which says it all. It is a challenge for us and it will be difficult, but Porto are a club that want to win every game and that will be our aim," he said.
Comparing the changes in the respective sides since that 2006 meeting – decided by goals from the departed Thierry Henry and Aleksandr Hleb – Ferreira added: "Most of the Arsenal players are even better than then – bigger, older and with more experience. Now we have different players and the only thing we can say is there are more Arsenal players with experience and fewer experienced players in our team, and that might be the determining factor." Porto have not won any of their three domestic away matches this term but they recorded a morale-boosting 2-0 league success at home to FC Paços de Ferreira, and Ferreira will hope to welcome back key Argentinian midfielder Lucho González, rested on Friday. Wenger, for his part, said Samir Nasri was available after a knee injury but that fellow midfielder Alexandre Song would remain sidelined with a hip problem.