Wenger looks to qualify quickly
Wenger feels his side showed maturity to eventually beat Olympiakos
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is keen to swiftly wrap up qualification for the Champions League knockout stages after his side took control of Group H.
Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Olympiakos has put Wenger’s side top of their group with two wins from two games.
The Gunners can make sure of their progress by beating Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in their next two games.
Wenger said: “We now have two back-to-back matches against Alkmaar so let’s try to qualify quickly.”
Arsenal travel to the Netherlands on 20 October before hosting the Dutch side on 4 November.
And Wenger is confident that his side will take maximum points if they manage a repeat of their display against the Greek champions.
Only some poor finishing and a series of saves by Olympiakos goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis stopped the Gunners from being out of sight by half-time.
They had to wait until the 78th minute for Robin van Persie to break the deadlock before Andrey Arshavin sealed victory despite appearing to be in an offside position.
But Wenger was pleased his young side remained patient and feels it shows they are coming of age.
“I believe we played a great first half and we had plenty of chances,” said the 59-year-old, who later this week will become the longest-serving manager in Arsenal’s history when he celebrates his 13th year in charge.
“You always want your team to take every chance but it is not always possible.
“We dominated this team from the first to the last minute, but they were well organised and disciplined. We kept our composure and kept going.
“We played with a desire to keep the discipline in the team. We did not do anything crazy. I always felt we could score.
“But I’m encouraged as well because to dominate the game like we did at that level is something outstanding.
“Of course it’s frustrating that we didn’t take complete advantage of it, but it’s very positive. We have matured and a game like this shows just that.”
Wenger felt the incisive forward play of Arshavin was instrumental in getting the result he felt his side deserved.
“When you play against 10 men in one half, it is very important to have players who can play in a very short space, and Arshavin is a specialist in that,” he said.
“He was sharp and determined. In this type of game, he is always a threat.”
Olympiakos coach Zico was unhappy with Arshavin’s goal and feels the selection of referee Stephane Lannoy, assistants Eric Dansault and Laurent Ugo and fourth official Antony Gautier was wrong because, like Wenger, they are French.
“I don’t think they were biased. We hope it was a mistake,” said Zico.
“But we had three French referees with a French coach in the other team that had 10 French players,” he explained. “Maybe we could have had referees from other countries?”
The Brazilian felt his side paid the price for a busy schedule, adding: “We would have liked to have left with better result, but Arsenal are one of the best teams at the moment.
“Our fifth game in less than 15 days affected our performance in the last 10 minutes.”