arsenal news

Wenger promises ''magnificent'' display

May 4, 2009

Arsene Wenger has promised a "magnificent" team display by his Arsenal side at Emirates Stadium tomorrow night as they look to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Manchester United and reach the Champions League final.

Arsene Wenger, Sir Alex Ferguson
GettyImages / CliveBrunskillWenger and Fergie have battled for 13 years

Too many of Wenger's main men failed to fire at Old Trafford last Wednesday evening, when only a superb individual performance by goalkeeper Manuel Almunia prevented the tie already being beyond the Gunners.

However, with just one goal separating the sides, Wenger - boosted by the return of fit again leading scorer Robin van Persie - is confident the likes of captain Cesc Fabregas, England winger Theo Walcott and Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor can carry Arsenal to an historic victory.

"Everybody is focused and ready for the game," declared Wenger, whose side lost the 2006 final to Barcelona in Paris. "We are all aware it is our team performance that will be important rather than the responsibility on any individual.

"I am very confident the team will produce a magnificent performance and that we will manage it. We lacked a bit of sharpness in the first leg. We will make sure that sharpness and decisiveness in the duels will be on our side tomorrow."

Wenger could deploy a front two tomorrow night having seen Adebayor, who netted a brilliant scissors-kick in the quarter-final away to Villarreal, become somewhat isolated at Old Trafford.

However, the Arsenal manager maintained: "Emmanuel Adebayor is like everyone else. When the team dominates he will have chances.

"You would not want to put more responsibility on his shoulders than anyone else. We are more than a selection of individuals. We are first a team. We have developed like that and our game is based on the collective play.

"I want them to focus on that. How well we play collectively will make the difference."

Arsenal beat Manchester United at Emirates Stadium in the Barclays Premier League during November, and have not lost a home European tie over 24 matches since their clash with Chelsea at Highbury in April 2004.

Indeed, the Gunners rearguard has not conceded a goal at Emirates Stadium in this season's elite European competition.

"We play a home game where we have a strong record in the Champions League," said Wenger, who will hand former United defender Mikael Silvestre (groin) a late fitness test

"For many people we are outsiders, but I personally believe we will do it. Against a team like United you need the team to defend well and that starts up front. We will want to put pressure on them."

Wenger, his side now safe in fourth place in the Premier League, added: "The progress this team has made since the start of the season has been remarkable.

"We are 21 games unbeaten in the Premier League, we were in the semi-final of the FA Cup, we are in the semi-final of the Champions League and can make it to the final. We have to be positive about the team and optimistic about this team."

Wenger has once again been linked with a summer move to Spanish giants Real Madrid.

However, the 59-year-old Frenchman, who has transformed the Gunners since his arrival in September 1996, maintains: "I believe Arsenal is my club because it is my club, it is the only club.

"I believe in the potential of this club and want to give this club the opportunity to win the Champions League. That is why I work so hard."

Wenger, contracted until 2011, added: "My obsession is to play as well as possible and win as much as possible. I don't think that winning the Champions League is the sole motivation to continue as a coach."