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Page last updated at 08:23 GMT, Thursday, 16 April 2009 09:23 UK

Wenger praises explosive Gunners


Wenger credits accumulated confidence

Arsene Wenger praised Arsenal's attacking prowess as they overran Villarreal to set up a Champions League semi-final with Manchester United.

Having drawn 1-1 in the first leg in Spain, the Gunners blew Villarreal away 3-0 in the second leg at the Emirates.

"We used our passing well and gave them a lot of problems. We were explosive on the counter-attack," said Wenger.

"We sent out a very offensive team and we played in a convincing way. I was impressed with our quality and speed."

He added: "Villarreal have a good technical level but we gave them problems they didn't like."

Before the match, Wenger had spoken about adopting attack as the best form of defence in the absence of key defenders William Gallas, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna, as well as goalkeeper Manuel Almunia.

Goals from Theo Walcott, Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie's penalty were Arsenal's reward for an assertive display against a strong Villarreal side.

The performance of Walcott was particularly satisfying for Wenger, with the youngster terrorising Spain full-back Joan Capdevila for long spells.

There's Only One Tony Adams

"We know he can finish but now he is transferring that to the games. His level of confidence has gone up," said Wenger.

"In training he was always a good finisher but now he is becoming a great finisher in games too."

The chances of the Gunners reaching the last four of the Champions League had seemed slim earlier in the season as Wenger's trust in a youthful - and inconsistent - side came in for criticism.

"I never doubted, but when you don't win the game you wonder if you are right," said Wenger.

"I was always convinced, but I was more worried about the confidence and the belief of a very young side.

"It is mentally very difficult when they do not win the games because it's a bit more fragile than guys who have a big history behind them and have already gone through difficult periods.

"I was more worried about the mental side about what happened at the start of the season, but they have dealt with that very well.

"This group is mentally strong and we have a team with a great future."

Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini, who saw his team reduced to 10 men when Sebastian Eguren was sent off after 68 minutes, had no complaints about the defeat.

"They were better than us," he said.

"I am disappointed. We wanted to get through to the semi-finals but they were better than us even before the sending-off, so we have no complaints."

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see also
Arsenal 3-0 Villarreal (agg 4-1)
15 Apr 09 |  Europe
Gallas will miss rest of season
09 Apr 09 |  Europe
Villarreal 1-1 Arsenal
07 Apr 09 |  Europe
Champions League as it happened
07 Apr 09 |  Europe
Champions League photos
07 Apr 09 |  Football
FC Porto 0-1 Man Utd (agg 2-3)
15 Apr 09 |  Europe

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