Santos wary of Schalke threat
Defender Andre Santos feels Arsenal must be cautious of Schalke's challenge as they look to take a "big step" in the Champions League.
The Gunners opened their European campaign with successive victories, away to Montpellier and then a somewhat laboured 3-1 win over Olympiacos earlier this month.
Schalke, meanwhile, were left frustrated as 10-man Montpellier produced a late fightback to draw 2-2 in Gelsenkirchen last time out, which left Arsenal in control at the top of Group B.
The Germans have never won a competitive tie in England, losing four times with their only positive result coming from a 2-2 draw with Wolverhampton many years ago in a 1958/59 European Cup first-round clash.
Brazil full-back Santos, however, knows Arsenal must be fully focused if they are to all but secure safe passage through to the last 16 with a third straight Champions League victory.
"Of course a win on Wednesday would put us in a strong position, but qualification will also depend on other results," Santos told Arsenal Player ahead of Wednesday night's Emirates Stadium encounter.
"Obviously to have nine points in three games will be a big step up, but we have to be cautious.
"We know that we have strong teams in our group and there will still be three games after this one, but a win on Wednesday will put us in a good position."
Santos continued: "It is very important to finish the group stage in first place, we now have six points and we will push to finish top of the group.
"Matches in the Champions League are never easy - you play against world class players and you need to show character and strength at all times.
"Look at our match in Montpellier - we went 1-0 down and we had to fight to get back into the game, which we did very well and won the match.
"We have another difficult match against Schalke coming up, but I believe Arsenal has the quality and I think we will grow game after game in the competition."
Should Arsenal progress, it would be the 13th season they have made through from the group stages, having reached the final in 2006.
Santos knows full well securing qualification with matches to spare would have a positive impact.
"The earlier we qualify in the group stage the better and this will boost our confidence for the knockout stages," he said.
"We are in a very strong position with the good start, but we are not qualified yet.
"We have to play a very strong team in Schalke twice yet, so we have to keep focused - but if we play to our potential, we are confident we can challenge for the (Champions League) trophy this year."
Santos has seen his chances limited this season by the form of England left-back Kieran Gibbs, who is recovering from a thigh problem which forced him out of the recent World Cup qualifiers.
The 29-year-old was signed from Fenerbache in August 2011 and has been linked with a return to Turkey.
Santos, though, is only focused on making an impact at Arsenal.
"There were some rumours that my name was involved in this possible comeback," he said.
"I had people asking me on Twitter and even players from Fenerbache asking if it was true, but I am very happy here at Arsenal and I hope to stay here at Arsenal for a long time.
"I have a contract and I am very happy here, not only at Arsenal but in London too, it is a great city.
"The Arsenal fans are amazing, this is a great club, and I hope to stay here for a good while."