Wenger in sarcastic mood as he prepares for ban

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Arsene Wenger spoke with a wry smile this afternoon as he discussed the extended touchline ban handed to him by UEFA after Europe’s governing body adjudged him to have breeched the rules of an initial one game suspension during last month’s Champions League qualifier with Udinese.

While admitting that he is allowed to sleep in the same hotel as his squad – despite the two game sanction – the Frenchman joked that he may head straight to a seat in the stadium as soon as Arsenal’s flight touches down in Germany to ensure he doesn’t agitate Michel Platini’s self-righteous pomposity any further.

In the interview with Arsenal Player, Wenger also discussed the importance of securing points on the road, the danger men in the ranks of the Bundesliga champions and Aaron Ramsey’s absence.

On looking forward after Saturday’s win against Swansea…

Yes, we were under pressure to win the game and overall it was a relief after the game. We can focus better on the Champions League and to start well in the Group Stage. We feel we have already started the Champions League but now the Group Stage starts and we are very happy to be there. We know that we have a good team against us and the start is always very important in the Group Stage.

On a tough Group Stage draw…

Especially because of drawing Dortmund in pot number four. We have Olympiakos and Marseille, Dortmund and us. I don’t know whether it is the most difficult because sometimes you discover the real difficulty when you’re in it and you play the games.

On his squad…

We have lost Ramsey from Saturday because he has an ankle problem, but we have Gervinho and Song back. Rosicky is still out. Jenkinson is back from suspension but not in the squad.

On Mario Goetze…

He’s a provider, he is the one with the best assists in Germany and the most dangerous player. He comes in from the right side and links well with strikers and [Shinji] Kagawa who plays just behind [Robert] Lewandowski. We have to keep him quiet, the best way to do that is for us to attack.

On Mertesacker’s experience in Germany being useful…

The experience is important but I believe we have players who have experience in the Champions League. The fact it is in Germany means maybe he will know a bit better, especially at the start of the game, but overall we know Dortmund well. They are a dynamic, mobile side who like to attack and put early pressure on the ball. For us it’s important to play our game and get out of their pressure.

On away points being vital…

Of course, if you want to qualify in the Champions League you want to win your home games and then grab 3-5 points away from home to be absolutely sure. The earlier the better.

On his touchline ban…

It’s not ideal, especially in the first game. I don’t understand anymore what the rules are and what you can and can’t do. I think I’ll go to the stands straight away when I arrive tonight. Until I go to the stadium there is no problem. I am at least allowed to sleep in the same hotel as my team. There is no difference until you arrive at the stadium.

On Ramsey’s absence…

Aaron Ramsey has been very influential in our team since the start of the season, but it is a good opportunity to show we have a big squad and that we can cope with it [his absence]. We have of course three other midfielders out with Diaby, Wilshere and Rosicky. It’s many but we still have hopefully a strong enough team in midfield tomorrow.

On building confidence…

It’s a good opportunity for us to get positive vibes – we need a little bit of that. Every team, no matter how good it is, needs a confident environment. I believe my team needs that at the moment…[A win] would create a certainty that we have a good chance to go through. They [Dortmund] look up there to be the team who can go through. For us to have a positive result tomorrow night would be a big lift.

On away form in the past…

For a long time we have been successful away from home in the Champions League. Last year we got nine points early then we dropped points that I believe, especially in Braga, we were unlucky with. It’s difficult to win anywhere. Look at the record of managers who have worked in the Champions League and they are all around the same.

On Arteta, Benayoun and Mertesacker bringing experience…

That’s what you want ideally, it’s a good opportunity to show we have experience. I think football though is down to quality, no matter how old you are. Experience helps a little bit when you are under pressure and in preparation, but I believe it is very important we focus on our game and prepare ourselves to play our game. Hopefully I’ll be able to see that from the stands.

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