LONDON, England, November 20 – Arsene Wenger expects Arsenal to build on their derby demolition of Tottenham by marching towards the last 16 of the Champions League with a victory in their crucial clash against Montpellier on Wednesday.
Wenger’s side routed arch rivals Tottenham 5-2 at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday to lift the gloom around the north London club following a disappointing run of one win in their previous four Premier League matches.
The dominant manner of Arsenal’s victory was a perfectly-timed confidence boost because the Gunners can’t afford a slip-up against Montpellier.
Arsenal lie second in Group B, one point behind Schalke, and failure to beat the French champions could leave Wenger’s men facing a tricky must-win tie at third placed Olympiakos in their final match.
But, with Schalke hosting Olympiakos, victories for Arsenal and the German club this week would guarantee their places in the knockout stages.
Wenger, putting his faith in the restorative properties of the derby triumph, hopes that is the scenario that plays out at the Emirates on Wednesday.
“The result will help to rebuild belief completely again,” Wenger said.
“There is something special in this team and I am happy that will come out when they play with complete confidence.
“We will gain some belief and confidence from this result, and we will transfer that into our next game and show the same performance.
“We have shown quality, spirit and a lot of movement, and that is what we want from our team.”
While Wenger is confident of Arsenal’s progress, Gunners midfielder Aaron Ramsey knows there is no margin for error with just a one-point lead over Olympiakos.
“The group is pretty tight at the moment, so yes I think you could say that we have to win this game, and we are at home so hopefully we can do that and put ourselves in a strong position to qualify,” Ramsey said.
“The ideal situation is that we will be qualified before going into the last game.
“Other matches are completely out of our hands, so we have got to look after our own results, but if Schalke do win, then that would be the preferred choice for us.”
Arsenal have little reason to fear Montpellier, who were beaten 2-1 by the Gunners in France on Matchday One in September and have managed just one point from their four group matches.
A defeat on Wednesday would not only confirm Montpellier’s elimination from the Champions League, but also end their hopes of the third-place finish that secures a Europa League spot.
Montpellier have also struggled in Ligue 1 and a 1-1 draw at Valenciennes on Saturday left them languishing 11 points behind leaders Lyon.
To make matters worse, the club were forced to apologise to a reporter who was punched by defender Cyril Jeunechamp.
Jeunechamp was one of several Montpellier players who confronted a L’Equipe journalist after the Valenciennes match to complain about an article published earlier in the week.
But, despite the chaos enveloping Montpellier, Ramsey has warned his team-mates not to underestimate Rene Girard’s side.
“When we played them in France we were under pressure for periods of the game and we did well to get a result there,” Ramsey said.
“They have competed against every team and showed they can create and can be a threat, so it will be no pushover.
“Montpellier will want to prove something as well, that they can compete against the best teams, so we will have to be aware of that and be right on top of our game on the day.”