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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep, 30, 2008

Wenger backs players to prove their class

Arsene Wenger has demanded Arsenal use tonight's clash with Porto to demonstrate they are genuine Champions League contenders.

The Gunners have been busy addressing the fallout from Saturday's shock 2-1 defeat by Hull amid accusations of complacency.

Wenger, who felt physically sick at the result, remains convinced it was a momentary blip that will be forgotten with an emphatic win over the Portuguese champions.

"We had a disappointing result against Hull but I have been sitting on the bench long enough to know that if we'd played that match 100 times we'd lose it once,'' he said.

"I believe we will win tonight. We want to make sure we win and get the right belief into the game.

"Everybody says we should not have any chance of winning the Champions League but I believe we have enough quality to do it and that is what we want to show tonight.''

Wenger initially reacted to one of the most embarrassing results of his 12-year reign by threatening a cull of the players exposed on the weekend.

Winger Samir Nasri is likely to be restored to the midfield after recovering from the knee injury that has troubled him since August.

But with Wenger's anger at the Hull defeat subsiding, the Arsenal boss' resolve to swing the axe appears to have softened.

"Players will not be dropped to punish them. Sometimes you make changes because you consider the other team and the balance in your own side,'' he said.

"Sometimes one player is not at his best. If a player is not playing tonight it's not down to punishment, it's just because of the rotation in the side.

"You cannot play every single game with the same 11 players.''

Porto provide an early shot at redemption following the Emirates horror show against Hull and Wenger wants to see his side's character.

"The players were very disappointed after the Hull match and are focused on tonight's game,'' Wenger added. "It is part of a career to deal with disappointments and to show enough mental strength and desire to go forward.

"The players are desperate to go out and win the game against Porto.''

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