gunning for villarreal

LONDON - Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal's love of the big occasion will help the Gunners overcome their injury crisis and sweep aside Villarreal in tonight's Champions League quarterfinal second leg.

LONDON - Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal's love of the big occasion will help the Gunners overcome their injury crisis and sweep aside Villarreal in tonight's Champions League quarterfinal second leg.

Wenger will be without centre-backs William Gallas and Johan Djourou for the Emirates Stadium clash, while goalkeeper Manuel Almunia is ruled out and French left-back Gael Clichy could also be sidelined through injury.

But Wenger knows his players relish the chance to strut their stuff on the sport's grandest stages and he is confident they can finish the job after last week's 1-1 draw in Spain.

A win or goalless draw would send Arsenal through to a last four meeting against Manchester United or Porto and, though they have endured a frustrating campaign marred by inconsistent form, the north Londoners always seem to impress when the stakes are high.

They have already beaten European champions United, won 2-1 at Chelsea and claimed resounding European victories over Porto and Fenerbahce.

With Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor in fine form after their recent return from injury, Wenger expects another memorable display today.

"We are feeling a little stretched. That injury to Djourou is a massive blow because we lost Gallas last week," he said. "But we love the fact we have these big games coming up. There is tension but we like that because if there's no tension, it means you are not going for anything.

"We know we are in a situation where we don't want to be tentative at all."

Adebayor's stunning bicycle kick at El Madrigal last week gave Arsenal a priceless away goal, but Wenger insists there is no chance they will play for a draw because it is not in their nature to be negative.

"We have scored that away goal so it could have an importance at the end of the day. But I don't believe that we are a team who can play for 0-0, that's not our natural way. If there are five minutes to go and it's 0-0 even goal kicks make you nervous," he said.

"I personally don't expect any weaknesses from Villarreal but I expect some strength from us to say, 'listen, we have the opportunity to get to the semifinal, let's take it'."

Wenger's side was widely written off earlier this season but Fabregas, back from four months out with a knee injury, says they spoke too soon.

"It's quite good what we have done, but it is not enough. We want to go all the way," he said.

Villarreal, beaten by Arsenal in the 2006 semifinals, will travel to London on the back of a 2-0 home defeat to Malaga, but more disturbing than the result was an injury to Marcos Senna. - Sapa-AFP

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