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Arsene Wenger vows to take Europa League seriously... if Arsenal end up in it

SoccerBy Sunday World
Wenger: "We would take the competition seriously - but we are not out (of the Champions League) yet"
Wenger: "We would take the competition seriously - but we are not out (of the Champions League) yet"

Arsene Wenger insists his Arsenal side would take the Europa League seriously if they drop out of the Champions League.

The Gunners entertain Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday night with their hopes of progressing from Group F hanging in the balance after three defeats from their opening four games.

Their respective managers clashed over their views on doping in football but on the pitch, Arsenal know they must win to keep any chance of getting out of the group stages alive.

Even then, anything other than a victory for Bayern Munich over Olympiacos in Germany would see Wenger's side eliminated - but they could finish third and drop into the Europa League.

In the past, the Europa League has been treated with disdain by a number of English clubs but Wenger would follow in the footsteps of clubs on the continent.

"We would take the competition seriously - but we are not out (of the Champions League) yet," he said.

"I believe that this problem is exaggerated a little bit in England because we play Wednesday and Saturday, so it is the same as Thursday and Sunday. I can't see the difference.

"There are plenty of examples in Portugal and Spain where teams have taken it seriously and won the championship. Benfica are the example, Sevilla have done well."

Wenger also rebuffed suggestions that Bayern and Olympiacos could play out a draw at the Allianz Arena that would see both sides qualify at Arsenal's expense.

"If Bayern don't win they could still be second in the group because they go to Zagreb where they can lose," he said.

"In front of their crowd they will want to win. That will be really Machiavellian to think they will deliberately lose to get us out."

Arsenal's stuttering Champions League campaign started with a 2-1 defeat in Zagreb, with Olivier Giroud sent off.

After the match, Dinamo midfielder Arijan Ademi failed a drugs test and has since been handed a four-year ban by UEFA.

While his club will look to appeal, Wenger said he is surprised the Croatian champions are still in the competition and questioned why UEFA rules mean there is no way of disqualifying them.

Wenger said: "It's a surprising rule. UEFA applies the rule that is planned but I personally don't agree with the rule.

"You cannot say that they had a doped player but the result stands. That means you basically accept doping."

UEFA spokesman Pedro Pinto said in a statement released to Press Association Sport: "UEFA's Anti-Doping regulations regarding the consequences for teams for doping offences are strictly in accordance with Article 11 of the WADA Code."

Dinamo's coach Zoran Mamic also disagreed with Wenger's comments.

"Mr Wenger can think and talk about what he wants but there are other people who make decisions about that and that will be in the future," he said.

"I can suggest him to write the rules for UEFA. I think this situation is not the point of this press conference so we don't need to talk about Ademi."