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Gazidis - No automatic pass

Image: Gazidis: Euro focus

Ivan Gazidis has rejected suggestions that Arsenal have been handed an easy ride in Europe.

Gunners expect tough test in Europe

Ivan Gazidis has rejected suggestions that Arsenal have been handed an easy ride in the UEFA Champions League group phase. The Gunners are up against Dutch champions AZ Alkmaar, Greek giants Olympiakos, and Belgian outfit Standard Liege in Group H. Some pundits feel that Arsene Wenger's men will have few difficulties progressing to the knockout stages, but chief executive Gazidis is taking nothing for granted and is certain the squad will adopt the same mentality. He told Sky Sports News: "We're playing three champion teams from three good leagues and there's a reason that these three teams are in the competition. "Some people might look at it and think that this is an automatic pass for Arsenal, but we don't see it like that at all, it's going to be very tough. "One of the things about our team this year is that we're very, very focused game to game. I think we let ourselves down at times last year by losing that focus but this year we've got a very determined group of individuals."


Gazidis admits the short trips to Holland and Belgium will be of a benefit to the Gunners as they also compete for glory in the Premier League and he is eager to get off to a flying start in their opening game at home to Standard Liege. He added: "Travel time is important for these midweek games, so it is good to have relatively short travel times, so I think that's a slight advantage. "I would like to get off to a good start and in front of our home fans we think we can put a win in the bag and we'll be aiming to do that. "We'd like to qualify as early as we can out of the group phase so you always like to try and get the points early." With the clock ticking down on the transfer window, the Gunners' only significant signing has been Ajax defender Thomas Vermaelen.
Wenger has gained a reputation for being notoriously frugal with the club's finances and Gazidis claimed they would only bring in players who the Frenchman felt would improve his current crop. "There's a lot of activity and we're certainly receiving a lot of phone calls," he admitted. "We're going to be very disciplined about only adding players if Arsene Wenger believes that they add something to our squad. "We've got a good-size squad and feel that we've got off to a good start this season. "If there are players out there who we think can add to our capability, then we will act, but not otherwise."

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