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Wenger: We must lift game in KO ties

ARSENAL may have secured safe early passage to the Champions League knockout stages but manager Arsene Wenger knows his side need to improve if they are to make a mark on the competition.

Last night, the Gunners secured their place in the last 16 with a game to spare, thanks to Schalke's defeat of Olympiacos and their 2-0 home defeat of Montpellier.

Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski scored the goals in what was a comfortable 2-0 victory for the north Londoners at the Emirates Stadium.

Wilshere said after the match that Arsenal need to improve if they are to make an impression on the Champions League and Wenger echoed his sentiments.

"He is right, I agree completely with him on that," the Frenchman said.

"We are conscious of that but that is exciting as well because I feel we are now in November.

"We play in March and what will be important is that players like Jack have a few months of competition and will hopefully be stronger.

Focus

"We have some time in the Champions League and now we can focus on the next step.

"But in the championship we have to make points. It is important you get closer to the top before Christmas."

Arsenal are through the group stages for the 13th season in succession - a feat of which Wenger is "very proud" and one he wants to cap with a victory at Olympiacos to top Group B.

"We will play to win, to finish top of the group," he said.

"If you look at some groups, like the one with Dortmund and Real Madrid, you don't really know whether it is better to finish first or second.

"But overall statistically it is still better to finish top because you feel you've done better if you finish top of the group.

"We will try to win at Olympiacos and Montpellier can beat Schalke at home. We will take a full-strength team."

Arsenal's immediate focus returns to this weekend's Premier League trip to struggling Aston Villa.

Montpellier counterpart Rene Girard's attention returns to domestic action after his side were consigned to finish bottom of Group B on their debut season amongst Europe's elite.

"I think over the 90 minutes we played well but lacked a bit of consistency," said Girard.


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