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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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Wenger ready for 'vital' week

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal can turn up the heat on rivals Chelsea this week with a good performance in the Champions League against AC Milan.

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Wenger's men have bounced back from a shambolic start to the season to move into fourth spot on the Premier League table, but this week shapes as a crucial one with their first-leg match against the Serie A leaders preceding an FA Cup clash away to Sunderland.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have failed to live up to their pre-season expectations, currently sitting in fifth place domestically, and Wenger says he now expects the term "crisis" to be applied to whichever club fails to impress on the continent.

"You could say that the crisis at the moment in England is a bit like fire," Wenger said. "It moves very quickly from one club to another. It's like a fire with strong wind so you have to be a bit cautious because it can quickly come back. The wind can blow it quickly back.

"This is the important time for us. Before the week started, I said that this week would be vital for us. We have to show now [that we can capitalise] and not consider too much whether it's Chelsea or us. It's down to us to do well and hopefully we will do it."

However, the Frenchman has stated his concerns over the San Siro playing surface ahead of the round of 16 clash in Milan.

"I am a bit worried about the quality of the pitch," said Wenger. "It doesn't look exceptional. Hopefully tomorrow it will be better.

"It has been relaid down the flanks very recently and you know what it is like when you have just laid a pitch like that. It takes time to settle and become flat. At the moment, it isn't."

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