Champions League – Wenger backs young Guns
Arsene Wenger is confident his young Gunners can win “everywhere in the world” but maintains his side will be all the better for their experiences this season even if they lose at Liverpool tonight.
2007-2008 Arsenal Cesc Fabregas Arsene Wenger – 0
* Projected line-ups
* Wenger believes in double
Only one win in seven has seen Arsenal’s lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League vanish and they are now playing catch-up on both Chelsea and Manchester United, whom they face at Old Trafford this weekend.
Liverpool, meanwhile, would seem to have the upper hand in the Champions League quarter-final tie, having drawn the first leg 1-1 at the Emirates Stadium to bag themselves a crucial away goal.
Reds boss Rafael Benitez – whose men frustrated Arsenal again in their Premier League encounter on Saturday – believes inexperience cannot be used as a get-out clause for Wenger given how many big games his squad have played at the highest level.
The Arsenal manager certainly feels youth is well on Arsenal’s side.
“We are young, still very young. You cannot convince me otherwise,” said Wenger.
“(Emmanuel) Adebayor is young, Cesc Fabregas. I cannot say they are old, I am sorry.
“They have experience. We have played in the Champions League final, but they are young.
“They will be better in two or three more years because they will be even more experienced – and they will still be very young then.”
Wenger maintains his young Arsenal side can cope with the added pressure of the Anfield cauldron, having seen off the Reds on Merseyside twice last season in both domestic cups – although the Gunners did lose 4-1 there during March 2007.
However, having come through a severe test to silence the AC Milan faithful at the San Siro in the last round, the Arsenal manager remains confident in his side’s ability.
“We have belief we can win everywhere in the world,” said Wenger.
“There is a little comfort when the game starts when you are at home, but in Europe that doesn’t matter very much.
“They have the support, but it’s down to us to keep the crowd quiet.
“It is difficult here because they’re a little bit louder than anywhere else, and they have had a bit more stamina than anywhere else – but we will try.”
Adebayor is set to return to the starting line-up on Tuesday night.
The Gunners’ leading scorer, 24, maintains the players are ready to face the wall of sound which will hit them when they run out at the famous venue.
Adebayor said: “This is going to be the quarter-final of the Champions League, a second leg at Anfield, so you know what the atmosphere is going to be like.
“As a player, you just have to be ready. We know that the fans are going to push their teams, that is normal.”
Adebayor added: “Maybe we have to be better than we were in Milan.
“In the first leg against Liverpool, we had a lot of chances to kill the game, but we didn’t.
“We have to fight tomorrow, because we know that it is going to be a big battle here.
“The most important thing is to be ready to give 100%, everything that I have in my heart and at the end of the day, we will see.”
Should Arsenal go out of Europe and then fail to beat United, a season which promised so much would effectively be over.
Wenger, though, continues to remain pragmatic.
He said: “Defeat is not unthinkable. You have to accept you might lose, but what is important is that you can believe you can win.
“And if I did not believe we could win the Champions League, I would not be sitting here.”
Sporting Life / Eurosport