Arsenal's Emirates jinx is over says Wenger
November 22, 2006 6:40pm CST
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes their 3-1 victory over Hamburg SV in Europe will put an end to a costly Premier League jinx at their new Emirates Stadium. Arsenal had to come from a goal down to secure their Champions League win on Tuesday, a feat they have yet to achieve in domestic football since moving to their 390-million-pound stadium in August. By a bizarre twist of statistical fate, their seven Premier League games so far have yielded only two types of result. Either Arsenal concede the first goal and go on to draw 1-1, as they did against Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Everton and Newcastle United, or they score first and go on to win 3-0, as they did against Sheffield United, Watford and Liverpool. Asked if the nature of Tuesday's victory would affect future home games, Wenger said: "It will, because it will convince my players not to make an obsession of conceding the first goal and thinking 'here we go again'. "Once you know you can come back and win the game it makes a big difference. "It was a convincing comeback and it will convince the players that Emirates is Emirates." Despite playing some entertaining football, Arsenal have paid a high price for their inconsistency with a yawning 12-point gap now separating them from leaders Manchester United. Wenger, though, can also see a positive side to the results in that his side are unbeaten at home since vacating Highbury. "The bottle is half empty and half full," said the Frenchman. "We haven't lost and if we can turn our home games now to victories, people will say 'they are unbeaten at home and suddenly they've become a strong team at home. And it's down to us." PLAYER PSYCHOLOGY Wenger believes the noise generated by the 60,000-seater ground was a factor in turning Tuesday's game around and lining up the prospect of a place in the knockout stages. "The fans played a big part," he said. "When we were 1-0 down, they really supported the team at that moment. Psychologically, it was important for the players." The win leaves his side needing only a draw in their final Group G game in Porto on Dec. 6 to be sure of qualifying, with a point apiece also putting the Portuguese through. Asked what kind of game he expected, Wenger said: "Both teams will play to win -- and if it finishes with a draw neither of them will be disappointed." Striker and captain Thierry Henry will miss that match through suspension after picking up a yellow card against Hamburg, an absence which Wenger admitted was a blow. A brighter note was the form up front of teenage substitute Theo Walcott. "Theo at the moment is in a mental state where he knows he can affect the game when he comes on," said Wenger. "His time to start a game will come again."