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Wenger fears Gunners could end up outflanked in Italy

Arsene Wenger has called for a solid performance from his side tonight as they defend a 1-0 first-leg lead against Udinese.

However he played down the pressure around the Champions League qualifying tie in Italy.

“It's not critical,” Wenger said, “it's for us an opportunity to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League, so it's a good opportunity.

“They're quick on the flanks, so I think we have to keep them quiet, especially (Mauricio) Isla on the right side, who's a provider.

“In midfield, of course, they have some good players, and (Antonio) Di Natale up front.

“So, overall, we need a good, solid defensive performance.”

Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin has told his players to cut out the mistakes or face an early exit.

Theo Walcott's strike at the Emirates last week decided a contest in which Udinese might have scored after spurning a couple of gilt-edged opportunities.

The performance was enough to convince Guidolin that his side can upset their more fancied rivals; however he knows their inability to score an away goal has left them with a tricky task in front of their home fans in Udine.

“The second leg will be more difficult,” he said.

“We face one of the best teams in Europe and 1-0 is a result to be worried about. It does not allow you any room for error.

“We must try to score, but without losing our balance and also remembering that Arsenal can hurt us with their speed.

“We must do everything well and have a little luck, but we can still qualify — we have not lost|5-0 in London.

“In the first leg maybe we began a little in awe of Arsenal, but my players deserve praise for not raising the white flag after the goal.”

Arsenal have been struggling with off-field problems of their own after Cesc Fabregas completed his protracted move back to his boyhood club Barcelona.

The Gunners, who lost at home to Liverpool at the weekend, are also set to be without fellow midfielder Samir Nasri after confirming yesterday that they had reached a deal for his sale to Manchester City.

But Guidolin said: “I do not think there is a crisis at Arsenal — they are used to playing under pressure and have always been able to react to difficult moments.”

ITV 1, 7.45pm kick-off

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