London: Per Mertesacker insists he and his Arsenal team-mates now believe they can get out of their Champions League group following their ‘nightmare’ start to the competition.
Alexis Sanchez (left) scores Arsenal’s third goal past Eduardo of Dinamo Zagreb at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday. PIC/Getty Images
The Gunners recorded a comfortable 3-0 victory at home to Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday night meaning they now head to face Olympiakos in Athens in a fortnight with progression to the knock-out rounds in their own hands.
That was not the case heading into a nervy contest against the Croatian champions as Arsene Wenger’s side had lost three of their four previous Group F matches.
Needing Bayern Munich to beat Olympiakos in Germany and keep up their end of the bargain at the Emirates, Arsenal got what they needed as Bayern cantered to a 4-0 success to top the group while a Mesut Ozil header and two goals for Alexis Sanchez sealed a vital three points.
Having lost in Zagreb and at home to Olympiakos, as well as being thrashed 1-5 in Munich, Arsenal’s start to the campaign left them in a position that still requires them to win by two goals in Athens — but Mertesacker believes the squad now feel they can go on and get the required result.
“We believe and before the game we knew we were capable of doing special things,” he said.
“We dropped a lot of points which is disappointing but there is still a chance so we believe.
“It is a nightmare how we played the first two games. We have to face the truth and that is that we have to score more than one goal against Olympiakos.”
German World Cup winner Mertesacker also feels Olympiakos will be under more pressure as they can afford to lose by the odd goal — as long as Arsenal score less than three — and progress.
“We have a good chance,” he added. “We believe that we can score goals. You saw that we are always capable of doing that. Let’s go there without fear, respect our opponent but keep patient until the end.”
Ozil and Sanchez, Arsenal’s two biggest signings in their history, showed their class to steer Arsenal to the win as both excelled in their own position.
>> Bayern Munich 4-0 Olympiakos
>> Maccabi Tel Aviv 0-4 Chelsea
>> Arsenal 3-0 Dinamo Zagreb
>> Lyon 1-2 Gent
>> Porto 0-2 Dynamo Kiev
>> Barcelona 6-1 Roma
>> Zenit St Petersburg 2-0 Valencia
>> BATE Borisov 1-1 Bayer Leverkusen
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