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.
|Aguero and Jovetic fit to face Bayern|
|Ancelotti reveals contract talks|
|Slutsky targeting Champions League last 16|
|PSV receive Guardado boost|
|Ter Stegen waiting for Barcelona chance|
|Allardyce hopeful Carroll can stay injury-free|
|Arsenal must be ruthless - Arteta|
|Veh resigns from struggling Stuttgart|
|Juventus have ´more quality´ this season, says Pogba|
|Copa America win can restore Brazil´s confidence – Marin|
|Lallana issues rallying cry|
|Fritz confident Bremen can turn things around|
|Bruce backing Hull to stay out of trouble|
|Lambert determined to transform Villa|
|Valdez: Suarez needs ´miracle´ for Copa America|
|Real Madrid heading to Australia for ICC|
|Martinez: Lukaku can become ´best striker in the world´|
|Koeman slams ´crazy´ Christmas fixture list|
|Iniesta, Vermaelen unavailable for Cyprus trip|
|Zenit v Benfica: Pereira, Lima set to return for Portuguese champions|
|Inzaghi sorry for derby stalemate|
|Colombian Primera A Review: Medellin on cusp of final, Santa Fe deny Huila|
|Mancini ´very happy´ with derby draw|
|Peruvian Primera Division Review: Sporting Cristal beaten|
|Liga del Futbol Profesional Boliviano Review: Late Blooming spark sends Oriente second|
|Venezuelan Primera Division Review: Trujillanos stay top, Metropolitanos embarrassed|
|Liga MX Review: Pachuca, Pumas UNAM reach play-offs|
|MLS Review: Wins for Galaxy, Revolution|
|Ecuadorian Primera A Review: Top three fail to score, Olmedo win big|
|Brazilian Serie A Review: Cruzeiro retain title|
|Chilean Primera Division Review: Universidad Chile held, Colo Colo go top|
|Costa Rican Primera Division Review: Cartagines into fourth|
|Uruguayan Primera Division Review: Champions Nacional win again|
|Ligue 1 Review: Marseille come from behind, Nantes extend unbeaten run|
|La Liga Review: Valencia suffer derby defeat, Rayo Vallecano beat Celta Vigo|
|Serie A Review: Mancini´s Inter rescue derby draw|
|Milan 1 Inter 1: Draw for Mancini on return|
|Pochettino wants home comforts|
|Bundesliga Review: Hamburg secure derby win, Stuttgart beaten again|
|Bruce disappointed with Vertonghen reaction|
|Eriksen backing Tottenham to kick on|
|Hull City 1 Tottenham 2: Eriksen snatches late winner after Ramirez sees red|
|Eredivisie Review: De Leeuw denies leaders PSV, Heracles secure timely win|
|Rodgers takes responsibility for Liverpool slump|
|Falcao ready for United return|
|Warnock basks in Palace display|
|Fabregas calls for ruthlessness|
|Crystal Palace 3 Liverpool 1: Rodgers´ men stumble at Palace again|
|Partick Thistle 0 Aberdeen 1: Rooney spot on for visitors|
|Reus blow for Dortmund|
|Mulvey leaves Roar post|
|Shakhtar Donetsk v Athletic Bilbao: Bernard eyes fast start|
|Forster urges Southampton to build|
|Sporting v Maribor: Montero out to continue hot streak|
|Schalke v Chelsea: Chance of revenge for Di Matteo|
|Manchester City v Bayern Munich: Pellegrini putting pressure on himself|
|Mourinho guards against Chelsea complacency|
|Rodriguez urges Real focus|
|Paris Saint-Germain v Ajax: Dutch outfit quietly confident|
|APOEL v Barcelona: Xavi seeks further improvement|
|Gotze basks in Bayern form|
|Tevez wants domestic form replicated in Europe|
|Mixed news on Naismith for Everton|
|Central Coast Mariners 0 Adelaide United 2: Sanchez nets brace for visitors|
|Can full of praise for Gerrard|
|BATE v Porto: Visitors eye top spot|
|CSKA Moscow v Roma: Italians eye qualification|
|Simeone lauds Atletico display|
|Messi the best ever - Luis Enrique|
|Eredivisie Review: Feyenoord make Peersman pay, Ajax beat Heerenveen|
|La Liga Review: Real Madrid, Barcelona win big|
|Allegri lauds Pogba performance|
|Messi pays homage after record-breaking day|
|Messi the record breaker|
|Serie A Review: Top two both victorious|
|Taylor hints that knee injury not as bad as first feared|
|Ligue 1 Review: Lyon stumble against Bastia|
|Van Gaal critical of United despite win|
|Lazio 0 Juventus 3: Pogba and Tevez star as champions dominate|
|Wenger frustrated by wasteful Arsenal defeat|
|Barcelona 5 Sevilla 1: Messi breaks La Liga record as Barca cruise|
|Garcia delighted with Ljajic display|
|League One Review: Swindon close the gap at the top, Yeovil off the bottom|
|Messi breaks La Liga goal record|
|Ancelotti: Isco a ´perfect´ Modric replacement|
|Bundesliga Review: Wolfsburg slip helps move Bayern well clear|
|Rooney revels in success of counter-attack ploy|
|Tiago: Malaga scalp proves we´re great|
|Arsenal 1 Manchester United 2: Rooney seals Van Gaal´s maiden away win|
|Reus injury angers Klopp|
|Schweinsteiger pays tribute to Bayern fans|
|Pellegrini salutes Toure´s attitude|
|Hughes laments Stoke´s slow start|
|Allardyce frustrated after Everton defeat|
|We deserved more - Redknapp|
|Irvine: Yacob can have no complaints|
|League Two Review: Luton run ended by Burton, Wycombe go top|
|Eibar 0 Real Madrid 4: Relentless Real win again|
|Poyet defends Cattermole over Cambiasso tackle|
|Dyche hails Burnley resolve|
|Martinez hails ´satisfying´ Everton triumph|
|Pearson sure of Leicester survival|
|Gomis earns Monk forgiveness for late miss|
|Pardew full of praise for Sissoko|
|Mourinho lauds ´beautiful´ Chelsea display|
|Scottish Premiership Review: Guidetti strikes again for Celtic, top four all win|
|Championship Review: Bamford denies Mackay´s Wigan, Derby extend lead|
|Aston Villa v Southampton: Koeman eyes international swagger|
|Newcastle United 1 QPR 0: Skipper Sissoko seals fifth straight win|
|Leicester City 0 Sunderland 0: Hosts´ goal drought continues|
|Stoke City 1 Burnley 2: Ings at the double as visitors hold on|
|Atletico Madrid 3 Malaga 1: Unconvincing champions halt in-form visitors|
|Everton 2 West Ham 1: Osman celebrates landmark with winner|
|Manchester City 2 Swansea 1: Toure seals comeback win for champions|
|Chelsea 2 West Brom 0: Yacob sees red as leaders march on|
|Paderborn 2 Borussia Dortmund 2: Reus injury leads to Dortmund capitulation|
|Bayern Munich 4 Hoffenheim 0: Champions move seven clear|
|Bielsa not concerned by Marseille investigation|
|Mancini buoyed by Inter preparations|
|Benitez rules out Liverpool return|
|Hertha prepared for Kalou absence|
|Montella confident despite Fiorentina pressures|
|Injured Alex out of Milan derby|
|Pochettino wants versatility from Dier|
|Van Gaal will not take risks with Falcao fitness|
|A-League Review: Sydney keep pressure on at top|
|K. League Review: Sangju Sangmu all but down, Gyeongnam remain in danger|
|J.League Review: Gamba deny title-chasing Urawa, Ventforet ensure safety|
|Rabiot thrilled with PSG return|
|Sterling wants long Liverpool stay|
|Poyet: I thought Cattermole would ´shoot´ me|
|Simeone: Cerci interest compliments Atletico|
|Blanc: ´I was confident´ of PSG win|
|Silva sidelined for crucial City-Bayern clash|
|Lambert would ´love´ to keep Vlaar, slams agent|