LONDON (AFP) - Arsene Wenger admits he would sacrifice Champions League success to restore Arsenal to the pinnacle of English football.
Wenger has never won Europe's elite club competition but it is not a short-coming that hurts him because the French coach believes coming out on top in the Premier League is the acid test of his team.
He insists the 38-game domestic season will give a true picture of their ability, whereas the Champions League's knockout stages mean it can be won by a team who get a good draw or a lucky break in a big match.
Make no mistake, Wenger will do whatever it takes to ensure his precocious young side extend their winning run to a ninth match against Steaua Bucharest when their Champions League Group H campaign resumes in Romania on Tuesday.
But it is Premier passions that are driving Wenger this season.
The London club maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a 1-0 win at West Ham on Saturday and he is convinced the Gunners are capable of taking Manchester United's title, an achievement which would give him more satisfaction than any of Arsenal's previous three league triumphs during his reign.
"I want the club to win the Champions League, because it's something they have never achieved," Wenger said. "From the personal point of view, it is less important.
"When you are young, you want to win it to be able to tell everybody, 'I'm the best'. Now I'm more experienced, I don't feel the need to say, 'Look how good I am'.
"To be honest, I think it is overrated. It's a cup competition and the real test of a team, and their manager, comes in a championship.
"It has become so difficult to win titles that sometimes the top teams are not at their best in the Champions League. The Premier League is harder to win, it is the hardest club competition in the world.
"If you were to organise a European Club Championship over 38 or 40 games, the team that won that really would be best in Europe."
The closest Wenger has come to being crowned king of Europe came in 2006 when Arsenal led Barcelona with 10 minutes to play in the final in Paris, only to lose to two late goals.
That defeat was the last moment in the spotlight for a host of players who had been key to Wenger's success at Arsenal.
Within a year the likes of Thierry Henry, Sol Campbell, Dennis Bergkamp, Ashley Cole and Robert Pires had left as Wenger started a revolution that is only now beginning to bear fruit.
The departures of so many experienced stars allowed Wenger to blood his talented crop of youngsters.
Inevitably there were growing pains for the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor and Gael Clichy. But last season represented their rite of passage.
A campaign that promised so much petered out with three painful cup defeats in the space of only two weeks.
The bitter memories of those losses to Chelsea in the League Cup, Blackburn in the FA Cup and PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League have provided Wenger's side with the hunger to make amends.
There is a desire to Arsenal's play that is instantly recognisable in the most successful teams. Wenger has nutured in his players a belief that they can overcome any obstacle and so far they have passed every test put in front of them.
If Wenger can stop his players taking Steaua for granted, a win over Group H's least fancied team should follow. It may not persuade him to change his primary target just yet, but the time to consider a duel assault is not far away.
|UEFA to investigate Shakhtar´s Fred selection|
|City loan Unal to Genk|
|China v South Korea: Stielike looking for new options|
|North Korea v Japan: Halilhodzic to unearth new faces|
|Drogba: I want to be ready, not a burden|
|Hamstrung Clasie in doubt for Southampton league opener|
|West Ham goalscorer Zarate bemoans Astra comeback|
|Negredo quashes Valencia exit rumours|
|´This is not my Sampdoria´ - president Ferrero|
|Criscito could join Inter - agent|
|CBF endorse Zico´s FIFA presidency campaign|
|Hawit to handle CONCACAF´s referee review|
|Falcao is a ´top, top player´ - Terry|
|Tuchel pleased by Dortmund fighting qualities|
|Premier League rules out schedule changes for Champions League clubs|
|UEFA Europa League Review: Southampton stroll as Sampdoria are humiliated|
|Koeman confident of Southampton progress|
|Bilic frustrated with Collins´ red card, Valencia injury|
|Bamford hits hat-trick in Bromley friendly|
|Southampton 3 Vitesse 0: Play-offs in sight for Koeman’s men|
|Wolfsberger 0 Borussia Dortmund 1: Tuchel begins tenure with narrow win|
|West Ham 2 Astra 2: Collins red allows visitors back in|
|Kukesi - Legia match abandoned|
|Joining Roma an ´easy decision´ - Szczesny|
|Chiriches joins Napoli from Spurs|
|Mihajlovic pleased with Milan improvements|
|Injured Chiellini to miss Supercoppa|
|Newcastle complete Mbemba swoop|
|Blackpool protest incurs FA fine|
|Scottish Premiership Preview: Dons seek to run Celtic closer|
|Paris Saint-Germain v Lyon: Ibrahimovic ready for season opener|
|Wolfsburg v Bayern Munich: De Bruyne centre of attention|
|Real Madrid 0 Milan 0 (10-9 on pens): Real lift second International Champions Cup|
|De Bruyne a doubt for Supercup clash|
|Reine-Adelaide needs time to blossom, says Walcott|
|Rodgers will not rush Ibe development|
|Napoli not interested in selling Higuain - De Laurentiis|
|Wilson agrees Bournemouth extension|
|Messi makes early Barcelona return|
|Ibrahimovic: My next move will be a very big surprise|
|Van Aanholt backs Lens to shine|
|Besiktas complete loan move for Gomez|
|McClaren: No decision on Coloccini future|
|Kane, Kaka hail goalkeeper Rimando|
|Chung eager to become FIFA president|
|Yedlin open to loan move|
|Tigres not scared of River trip - Ferretti|
|MLS Preview: Wright-Phillips, Lampard set to debut|
|´A draw is good for us´ - River´s Gallardo confident of Libertadores success|
|Di Maria poised for PSG switch - Blanc|
|Franjic: Bring on Bangladesh, Tajikistan|
|Van Gaal bemoans De Gea situation|
|MLS All-Stars 2 Tottenham 1: Kane stunner can´t spare Spurs|
|Manchester United 0 Paris Saint-Germain 2: Van Gaal´s defensive frailties exposed|
|Tigres UANL 0 River Plate 0: Visitors lose Gallardo in Copa Libertadores final first leg|
|Penedo parts ways with Galaxy|
|Benitez backs Mihajlovic, Milan to succeed|
|Barnetta joins Union in MLS|
|Allegri critical of Morata´s attitude|
|Franjic targets more A-League glory with City|
|Beto undaunted by Super Cup clash against Barca|
|Advocaat upbeat despite another Sunderland flop|
|McClaren praises Newcastle recruit Mitrovic|
|Payet will improve West Ham - Bilic|
|Pulis confirms interest in Lambert|
|Deila expects tough test in Baku|
|Drogba mobbed by Montreal Impact fans|
|UEFA Champions League Review: Ajax spurn two-goal lead at 10-man Rapid|
|Sunderland´s struggles continue as Doncaster cruise to win|
|Mahrez and Nugent on target in Leicester win|
|Mitrovic tastes debut defeat for Newcastle|
|Celtic 1 Qarabag 0: Boyata snatches crucial win|
|Jablonec 0 Copenhagen 1: Verbic cracker gives Danes the edge|
|Norwich sign Wisdom on loan from Liverpool|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Koeman plays down importance of Vitesse links|
|Schneiderlin keen to learn from experienced duo|
|Mandzukic´s maiden Juventus goal seals win in Poland|
|Fofana completes Bastia loan|
|Deila delighted that Gordon pledges future to Celtic|
|Grenier ruled out for four months|
|Rooney: United squad ready for title challenge|
|Messi and Neymar available for start of season|
|Szczesny seals Roma switch|
|Benitez cools Mourinho war of words|
|Filipe Luis vows to win back Atletico fans|
|Besiktas in negotiations over Gomez switch|
|Kishna seals Lazio switch|
|Diaby completes Marseille move|
|Platini is bad for FIFA - Prince Ali|
|Bilic keen to make further additions|
|Brady makes Norwich move|
|Southampton complete Caulker loan|
|Rummenigge feels Muller ´will never leave´ Bayern|
|Platini to stand in FIFA presidential election|
|Howedes to remain Schalke skipper|
|Albion sign Hull defender Chester|
|Lucescu defends Fred selection amid doping allegations|
|Fabregas still in love with Arsenal|
|Luis Enrique ´happy´ with Barca´s US trip|
|Mourinho optimistic over Cahill and Costa|
|River owe Tigres´ Esqueda - Mercado|
|Van Gaal expecting big season from Shaw|
|Begovic keen to challenge Courtois|
|Mourinho launches attack on Benitez|
|CONMEBOL ´knocked on a lot of doors´ to keep half-spot - president|
|America 0 Benfica 0 (3-4 on penalties): Primeira Liga champions finally win|
|Napoli striker Higuain ´untouchable´ - Gabbiadini|
|Arsenal´s friendly form will boost confidence - Wenger|
|Nagatomo-Melo swap possible, says agent|
|Chelsea 2 Barcelona 2 (4-2 on penalties): Courtois stars for Premier League champions|
|Eriksen calls for ruthless Spurs|
|Pulis praises Berahino attitude|
|Alderweireld confident of top-four finish|
|Villa ready for tough Spurs clash|
|West Ham edge win on Carrow Road anniversary|
|Kozak scores twice as Villa draw at Wolves|