Belfast Telegraph

Champions League: Arsenal belief levels are on rise again says defender Per Mertesacker

By Mark Bryans

Per Mertesacker insists he and his Arsenal team-mates now believe they can get out of their Champions League group following their "nightmare" start to the competition.

The Gunners recorded a comfortable 3-0 victory at home against Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday night, meaning they now head to face Olympiakos in Athens in a fortnight with progression to the knock-out rounds in their own hands.

That was not the case heading into a nervy contest against the Croatian champions as Arsene Wenger's side had lost three of their four previous Group F matches.

Needing Bayern Munich to beat Olympiakos in Germany and keep up their end of the bargain at the Emirates, Arsenal got what they needed as the Germans cantered to a 4-0 success to top the group while a Mesut Ozil header and two goals from Alexis Sanchez sealed a vital three points.

Having lost in Zagreb and at home to Olympiakos, as well as being thrashed 5-1 in Munich, Arsenal's start to the campaign left them in a position that still requires them to win by two goals in Athens - but Mertesacker believes the squad now feel they can go on and get the required result.

"We believe and before the game we knew we were capable of doing special things," he said.

"We dropped a lot of points which is disappointing but there is still a chance, so we believe. It was a nightmare how we played the first two games.

"We have to score more than one goal against Olympiakos.

"We believe that we can score goals. You saw that we are always capable. Let's go there without fear, respect our opponent but keep patient until the end."

Wenger has overseen successful progression from Champions League groups for the last 16 seasons but Mertesacker does not want history to weigh down the players.

"There is enough pressure. We do not need to discuss that too much," he said.

"They have more to lose. We are in a more difficult situation. It will be pressure for both teams and hopefully we can handle that better."

Belfast Telegraph


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