Arsène Wenger

English clubs not failing, Premier League stronger than ever

Arsene Wenger

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In the last round of Champions League fixtures, there was a lot of disappointment in England after three of their teams lost 2-0.

Different conclusions will have to be drawn for Arsenal and Manchester City, because they lost against two great teams, and with 10 players against 11.

I think Arsenal turned up on the night in terms of the quality of their performance. As for the circumstances of the game, it was quite frustrating because we lost with 10 players. Manchester City too. And, of course, when you play against very big teams going a man down makes things more difficult.

Olympiacos' result against Manchester United was more surprising, but I believe United are capable of turning things around and can make through in the second leg.

Chelsea’s 1-1 draw at Galatasaray was more expected. Scoring an away goal is to Chelsea’s advantage, and it puts them in a strong position to qualify.

I don’t think English clubs are failing compared to, say, the Spanish ones. It’s very difficult to draw general conclusions from just one match. Four English teams qualified from a six-game qualification stage and that's where you can really see the general level.

United, for example, didn’t lose a single match during the group stage. And they were in the same group as Leverkusen.

I believe that English football is really strong, and that the Premier League is stronger than ever. There are 10 equal, strong teams in Europe. If you play against Real, against Barcelona, even if your team is really strong, you can lose against them.

Apart from those three games involving English sides, there weren’t too many other surprises. Paris Saint-Germain won 4-0 at Bayer Leverkusen, while Real Madrid's 6-1 victory at Schalke was equally comfortable.

It’s more the goal difference which is surprising at this level. The results have made these two teams favourites to reach the final.

While the defeat of AC Milan at home by Atlético may have been mildly surprising, Dortmund are just continuing to do what they do in Champions League. They won 4-2 at Zenit St Petersburg, but taking into account their offensive power and the fact that some of their players returned to the side after the winter break, it's hardly a shock result.

After six victories away from home, I feel the gap between the main clubs and the rest in the Champions League has widened. The concentration of money we see at a few clubs is a real danger. There is now a real difference in terms of level of play, and it makes you think a bit.

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