Arsenal look to secure progress
The Gunners know a win over AZ Alkmaar will secure a place in the knockout phase.
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2009 14:53 GMT

Arsenal's Emmanuel Eboue warms up [AFP]
Arsenal can clinch a spot in the knockout round of the Uefa Champions League with a win over AZ Alkmaar.

A victory would effectively render the team's remaining two Group H matches meaningless, allowing the Gunners to focus on the English Premier League.

Despite being held to a 1-1 draw in Alkmaar two weeks ago, Arsenal is buoyant after beating Tottenham 3-0 Saturday.

"We know if we are focused, we are the best team in the Premier League and we have to keep going that way,'' Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna said.

"We know we have to win everything at home to be competitive in the (Premier) League. We are on the way to winning something and lifting a trophy.

"In the Champions League, it would be nice to qualify straight away. We can then go through to the second stage and show what we can do. We have a strong squad and we have showed that so far in the (League) Cup, everyone is able to play.''

Riding high

Arsenal leads Group H with seven points from three matches, one more than Olympiakos, which can also qualify Wednesday by beating last-place Standard
Liege if the Gunners win.

If both Arsenal and Olympiakos advance, they would only be playing for first place over the last two matches.

The knockout phase begins in February.

But although Dutch champion AZ has only two points, the team isn't writing off its hopes.

Last month, David Mendes da Silva scored an injury-time equaliser to clinch a morale-boosting home draw with Arsenal.

"It's going to be very difficult in London. We still have a chance to get a result there, however, and we will certainly work hard,'' said AZ striker Mounir El Hamdaoui, who is out for a month after tearing a muscle in his left thigh last week.

"In Holland, we played well in the first half although Arsenal scored. But when they scored we kept playing well and had good possession. They dominated the second half but it was good for us to score at the end.

"You learn to play for the whole 90 or 93 minutes. You have to concentrate because one chance or one mistake can lead to a goal against you or a goal for you, that's what we have learned.''

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