Quarter-final draw reaction

Pires excited by Gunners reunion

March 20, 2009

Villarreal midfielder Robert Pires is looking forward to the chance to pit his wits against former club Arsenal after the two clubs were paired together in Friday's draw for the Champions League quarter-finals.

Empics / AdamDavyRobert Pires: In his Arsenal days

Pires spent six seasons at Arsenal and helped the Gunners win two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and also reach the final of the Champions League before moving to Villarreal in 2006.

The former France international insists there will be no divided loyalties when his current side come up against the Gunners though, saying: "Cleary it's going to be a special game. It makes me very happy to return there and nowadays, as a Villarreal player, I want to win so I can continue in the competition with my team."

Pires was actually part of the Arsenal side that knocked Villarreal out of the Champions League semi-finals back in the 2005/06 season, when a 1-0 aggregate win sent Arsene Wenger's men through to a final showdown with Barcelona, which they lost 2-1.

Villarreal will be out to erase the painful memory of that exit, where they outplayed the Gunners during a goalless second leg in Spain but paid the price of missing an 89th-minute penalty through Juan Roman Riquelme.

Understandably, Pires does not feel the same desire for revenge as some of his Villarreal team-mates might, but he is still just as eager to help the Yellow Submarine continue their quest to win the competition.

"It's going to be a very difficult game. I have no feelings of revenge for that semi-final, right now the only thing going through my head is to knock them out because I'm at Villarreal," said the veteran playmaker, who believes his side should not be concerned about having to play the second leg away from home.

That was the situation the Yellow Submarine found themselves in in the last round and, after being held 1-1 at home by Panathinaikos in the first leg, they still managed to progress through thanks to a 2-1 win in the Greek capital.

"It's not better that we are playing the return away from home, but if we play like we did in Athens then we can get through," he added.

"I think that we have a team which can reach the final and we are on the right path to achieve that.

"We have to beat the best and we are going to try and do it."