Belgrade: Arsenal must not use their long injury list as an excuse if they do not perform well at Partizan Belgrade in their Champions League Group H match, manager Arsene Wenger said on Monday.
The Premier League club will be without eight key players because of injury for Tuesday’s game against the Serbian champions and Wenger said his team must prove their worth in a hostile atmosphere after a domestic slip-up at the weekend.
“I don’t believe the injuries can be an excuse, we are missing big players but we have 20 big players so it’s not an excuse to not perform,” Wenger told a news conference.
“I believe we are a good enough team no matter what happens. We have to focus on every single game to produce a performance and that’s what we have learned from Saturday,” he added, referring to the 3-2 home defeat by West Bromwich Albion.
Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and midfielder Abou Diaby have been declared unfit to face Partizan, joining Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie, Nicklas Bendtner, Thomas Vermaelen, Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey on the sidelines.
Wenger said his makeshift side would not be intimidated by the die-hard home fans, who are likely to occupy all four tiers around a tiny area reserved for away supporters.
“Fans here have very good knowledge of the game because Serbia is a traditional football country, I believe it will be a very passionate atmosphere because they are passionate people,” he said.
In 2007, UEFA threw Partizan out of the UEFA Cup after their fans started a riot at Bosnian rivals Zrinjski Mostar and last year their fans beat to death a French supporter before a Europa League home game against Ligue 1 side Toulouse.
“We are always inside the stadium, we don’t know what happens outside so I will leave that to UEFA and the Serbian authorities and I am sure they will do very well,” Wenger said when asked about possible crowd trouble.