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We're Gunner qualify from group: Arsene

ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger remains confident of reaching the Champions League knockout stage despite seeing his side surrender a two-goal lead at Schalke last night.

First-half efforts in quick succession from Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud helped the north Londoners overcome a shaky start and put them on course for three Group B points in Germany.

However, Klaas- Jan Huntelaar reduced the deficit in first-half stoppage time and Jefferson Farfan earned the Royal Blues a point when his strike deflected in off Thomas Vermaelen.

Schalke continue to lead the group as a result and remain a point ahead of Arsenal, with both teams able to secure qualification on matchday five.

"The group is open," Wenger said, whose side next welcome Montpellier to the Emirates Stadium. "I believe we are of course in a position where you want to win our home game.

"If we win, we have a 50 per cent chance to be through because Schalke plays Olympiacos here. They are in a position where they have absolutely to win that game as well. It will of course depend on our result first against Montpellier and then we will see what happens here.

"It could go to the last game; we could, with luck, do it in the next game. Anyway, we are in a position where we must win against Montpellier."

Last night was Wenger's first match back on the touchline in this season's Champions League after completing a three-match European ban.

The Gunners boss received the sanction by UEFA for his conduct after the last-16 defeat against AC Milan in March.

Wenger was not as controversial yesterday but was clearly irritated by referee Nicola Rizzoli's decision not to award a foul in the build-up to Huntelaar's goal and also for booking Lukas Podolski, who was frustrated at the decision to halt the game due to an injury as Arsenal pressed forward in the second half.

Asked about the first incident, he said: "Yes, (it was a foul) on Walcott and he gave the foul against Walcott.

"I invite you to see it again. It is a foul from (Ibrahim) Afellay on Walcott, 100 per cent."

Wenger added: "I must say there was another decision that was absolutely amazing.

"It was the first time I saw that in my long experience, to stop the game when a player has rolled over on his ankle. I have never seen that when you have a goal chance."

Walcott meanwhile believes he deserves an extended run in the first team.

"I just want to play and, hopefully, I can have a run in the team," he said. "I feel I fully deserve it."

Asked if his contract negotiations had affected his place in the team, he said: "You'll have to ask the manager. I can't answer that.

"I just want to play for this team and hopefully we'll win the Premier League."