Wenger: United will provide a different challenge

ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger is confident the Gunners’ Champions League semi-final clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford tomorrow night will result in a different outcome FA Cup semi-final heartbreak at the hands of Chelsea 10 days ago.

Arsenal led 1-0 against Chelsea in the FA Cup at Wembley thanks to Theo Walcott’s 18th-minute volley. But Florent Malouda equalised and Didier Drogba struck the winner six minutes from time. Since that defeat, Arsenal contested the incredible 4-4 draw with Liverpool last Tuesday before defeating Middlesbrough at Emirates Stadium at the weekend, a result that extended an unbeaten Barclays Premier League run to 20 matches

Wenger has been impressed by his side’s response to their FA Cup setback and he can see a marked difference between Arsenal’s Wembley opponents and Alex Ferguson’s side.

Wenger said: “They (United) are more a technical team and Chelsea are a very efficient, physical impact team.

“You could see in the first half (against Chelsea) when we could maintain a quick pace in our passing we were quite on top.

“But in the second half, when the game slowed down, it was down to the experience of Chelsea and the quality players they have; Essien, Ballack, Lampard and Drogba who all have a little advantage in the 50:50s.

“But this team has shown a lot of character this year. After the disappointment against Chelsea, the way we responded three days later was magnificent. We were 2-1 at Anfield down and we could have crumbled. We came back and battled until the last second. The character is there; the quality is there so it’s interesting.

“I believe we have only one desire and that is to go to the final no matter who we play. That demands a lot of belief, which, at the moment, is quite strong I must say.”

Whatever the result in tomorrow night’s game and next Tuesday’s return at the Emirates the Gunners manager expects his improved relationship to continue.

“Our respect will survive the two games,’’ said the Frenchman. “I think these two games will be a fierce competiton. We’ll go completely for it and so will they. It will be a very interesting competition because we feel we have improved since the beginning of the season, they feel that they’ve come back into a stronger position than they were two or three weeks ago. So both teams can both be peaking at the right time.’’


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