The pressure on Arsenal as favourites for their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie with Monaco is welcome, says Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, before Wednesday’s first leg at Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners have exited the competition at this stage in each of the last four seasons.
“The French might give us the status of favourites. It doesn’t bother me.
“There’s a lot at stake but these are the games you want to play,” said Wenger.
The Ligue 1 side gave Wenger his big break in management in the late 1980s but the Arsenal boss was not in sentimental mood in his pre-match press conference.
On reunion with Monaco, Wenger expressed his excitement on the club’s return to the top level from the second division.
“I am happy that Monaco is back at the top level after being in the second division.
“It was my first chance at a big club but I have been manager of Arsenal for 18 years now and I am focused only on qualifying for the quarter-finals against a good side.”
On team selection, he said the only uncertainty he had was [Jack] Wilshere, “but everybody else is available”.
When asked about goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, Wenger said: “I cannot tell you [who will be] goalkeeper.
“I worry about every player, but only 11 players can start. That’s the same for everyone. There’s competition for players.”
On Arsenal’s (allegedly) easy draw, the Arsenal boss said: “Easy is a word you have to ban in the Champions League, it is hard-earned every time.
“There’s always one goal between going out and staying in.
“In the last four years we’ve gone out in the last 16, twice against the winner, on goal difference or on one goal.”
Speaking on the French side, Wenger said: “They might give us the status of favourites. It doesn’t bother me.
“The worst thing that happened in my career was to play games without any pressure. There’s a lot at stake.
“These are the games you want to play when you are a player and a manager.”
The Gunners will be hosting the Ligue 1 side, AS Monaco in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League last-16, at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.