Wenger hails Premier League

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Football News

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger maintains the Barclays Premier League is still the "strongest in Europe".

The Gunners, who kick off their Champions League campaign on Wednesday against Portuguese outfit Braga, are expected to negotiate safe passage into the knockout stages with Shakhtar Donetsk and Partizan Belgrade making up the other opposition in Group H.

An English team appeared in the final every year between 2005 and 2009 and Wenger maintains there is no reason not to be confident of a home representative at Wembley in 2011, saying: "The Premier League is still the strongest in Europe. What happened last season was an accident, and we have to show that this year."

He added: "We went out against Barcelona, who were better than us over the two games. We have to come back and show we can compete with them.

"Last season's final was Inter Milan against Bayern Munich, which was completely unexpected, so it's open - but you have 10 teams in Europe who can hope to be in the final.

"The best-equipped teams would be the ones who are always there, meaning Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, because we have always been there in the last 10 years but maybe Tottenham can create a surprise.

"What you realise quickly in the Champions League is that every weakness you have you can pay for it.

"The higher the level, the quicker you are punished where you are weak."

Midfielder Abou Diaby (ankle) has also been ruled out of the trip to Sunderland at the weekend but there is a chance centre-back Thomas Vermaelen could return from an Achilles injury.

With Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie still sidelined, Marouane Chamakh is set to lead the Arsenal attack.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Tottenham Hotspur
Robin Van Persie
European News
Thomas Vermaelen
Premier League
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
Vassiriki Abou Diaby
Theo Walcott

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