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Mar 6, 2012

Wenger: Belief is key

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger insists the club must be positive ahead of what looks to be an impossible task against AC Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

• Gibbs: Pride gives us hope
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• Blog: King Robin and Sir Chesney

After losing 4-0 at the San Siro three weeks ago few have given Arsenal any hope of becoming the first side to overturn such a deficit in the Champions League, and Wenger admits their chances are no better than five per cent.

Only three clubs have recovered from such a first-leg defeat in the history of all European competitions, but those were back in the mid-1980s.

Wenger believes the only way they can pull off the improbable is to go into the tie with the belief a place in the quarter-finals can be achieved.

"I have a gut feeling the players can do it and my job until 7.45pm tonight is to convince them they can do it,'' said Wenger. "We do not have to speculate on any weakness of Milan because they are a good side, but we know only one thing gives us a chance and that is to give a top-class performance.

"That is what we will try to put in. The task is a high one, the level of performance demanded is high, but we want to be top-level performers. I said I don't live in a dream world - that means I know we have not created an easy situation.

"Statistically, we have a five per cent chance, because if you look at the history of results that have been changed at that level, it would be around that. But what is important is that we believe we can be in this five per cent. Let's make sure we do not miss our chance because we did not believe in it.

"We want to have a real go, we want to make it possible. We will not accept going out of the Champions League because we want to stay in. We will give it our best shot. The best way is to ignore the first game and do what we did against Tottenham - we were 2-0 down and just kept going. That's what we want to do again.

"The target is to find a balance between attacking and defending - because we must not concede either. But I know my players. They have been hurt and they have their pride. They will give a performance.

"That's the first time we've lost 4-0 away from home in a Champions League tie. It was a massive disappointment. I've been critical of our performance in the past, not players individually. I cannot come out when we have lost 4-0 and say, 'We have been absolutely outstanding'.

"We have been poor and have to face the truth. I include myself in that. I felt as poor as the players were on the night. I have always said the mentality in this team is very good but on the night I'm sorry that we didn't turn up."

Wenger's options in midfield have been reduced by injuries, with Abou Diaby and Mikel Arteta the latest on the treatment table after Saturday's win at Liverpool.

"Basically I have only two midfielders, with (Alex) Song and Rosicky. That means we have to play with four strikers,'' Wenger said. "But I can play six strikers if I want, I have enough, I have (Marouane) Chamakh, Park (Ju-young), Van Persie, Gervinho, Walcott and Chamberlain.''

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