Double winners Arsenal start the defence of their Premiership crown against promoted Nottingham Forest at Highbury tonight, with manager Arsene Wenger insisting he will not let his players be distracted by the challenge of the European Champions League.

Frenchman Wenger knows his champions are keen to prove their worth among the elite of Europe but says: ''Personally, I'm more concerned for the Premiership. I have to make sure their minds are fully concentrated on it.

''Inevitably, their minds will be strongly on Europe. We don't know our value on that market yet and the club has had a bad few years in the UEFA competitions.

''Of course, we want to do something in the Champions' League, but it will be very difficult, because in our group, when the draw is made in two weeks' time, we will find we are up against some very strong teams.

''It was a bad deal for us when Real Madrid beat Juventus in the final last season, because it meant we would face seeded teams in the group.

''And I have said before it is nearly impossible for an English team, with the demands of our fixture list, to win the European title.''

Dutch winger Marc Overmars added: ''We are all very excited about playing in the Champions' League.

''Most of my team-mates have never been there before, but they don't need me to tell them what a great thing it is for any player. They will love it, because it's so different to anything else.

''I've played in two European Cup finals and had three seasons in the competition with Ajax. I really missed it last year.

''When you've had a smell of something like that, you just want to continue it. But I know it will be much more difficult to do well in Europe with an English club - even one as powerful as Arsenal.''

Tonight, Arsenal are likely to field the team that started last Sunday's FA Charity Shield win against Manchester United, which means only a place on the bench again for #1.53m signing Nelson Vivas, the Argentina World Cup defender.