Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gunners Can Bounce Back; Djourou Hopes for Euro Progress despite Braga Loss

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gunners Can Bounce Back; Djourou Hopes for Euro Progress despite Braga Loss

Article excerpt

JOHAN Djourou admits it would be a "disaster" if Arsenal failed to reach the last 16 of the Champions League, but remains confident the Gunners can deliver.

Arsene Wenger was left fuming after his much-changed team was denied a stonewall penalty by Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai in the impressive Estadio Municipal, carved out of the Monte Castro quarry rockface.

Braga then capitalised when Emmanuel Eboue was off the pitch receiving treatment for a knee injury to net two late breakaway goals from Brazilian forward Matheus.

The 2-0 defeat means Arsenal - set to be without captain Cesc Fabregas for two weeks after he limped off with a fresh hamstring problem on Tuesday night - have lost successive European ties after opening their Group H campaign in blistering fashion with a 6-0 romp over Braga in London.

Should the Barclays Premier League club - still smarting from the painful loss against arch-rivals Tottenham - fail to beat whipping boys Partizan Belgrade at the Emirates Stadium on December 8, Arsenal could yet even drop down into the Europa League.

However, Djourou, one of seven changes to the starting XI by Wenger, insisted the Gunners can still be confident.

The Swiss centre-back admitted, "If we did not qualify, it would be a disaster, but we should not think we are not going to qualify. We have to think positively.

"This defeat was a shock for everyone and we need to bounce back.

"We have the players to do it, it is just how much we want it - and we want to win a trophy." Wenger lambasted Braga's negative tactics, with the Portuguese side, struggling in their domestic league, giving away 65% of possession - though Arsenal were unable to utilise it.

However, the only statistic which really mattered was their two goals from the three shots on target. The Gunners managed just one.

Djourou added: "When you have so much possession, the game should have been done.

"Theirs were silly goals, we should have avoided them."

Despite being ranked in the top eight clubs by Uefa, Arsenal - Champions League finalists in 2006 - have a less than impressive away record, the 3-1 victory in Belgrade on September 28 only their fourth from the last 14 ties. …

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