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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 April 2006, 06:57 GMT 07:57 UK
Wenger wants calm before semis
Arsene Wenger
Wenger has guided Arsenal to their first Champions League semi-final
Manager Arsene Wenger has attempted to dampen expectations that Arsenal will be favourites to reach the Champions League final ahead of Villarreal.

"We must keep our feet on the ground," said Wenger after his side reached the last four by beating Juventus 2-0 on aggregate after drawing 0-0 in Turin.

"Villarreal are a bit like us; no-one expected them to be where they are, so it is two outsiders.

"We are very proud - two months ago no-one expected that from our players."

Wenger added: "We played in a restricted way - we didn't play with freedom when we had the ball but we were in control.

"It went according to plan in many ways because they did not create a lot. We didn't suffer much in the first 20 minutes or the first 15 minutes of the second half.

"Pavel Nedved's sending-off was the end of the game. I felt he could get them back to 2-1 and then it would have been difficult."

We're trying to go all the way
Arsenal striker Thierry Henry

Asked if there was any truth in reports of a bust-up with Robert Pires, who was surprisingly left out of the starting line-up, Wenger said: "I cannot give you any light on that.

"I decided not to play him because he had played two full games."

Wenger believes Arsenal's success in the competition this year has been linked to their early exit from the FA Cup and their inability to challenge leaders Chelsea in the Premiership.

"I have felt for years that we left a lot of strength in England, by combining the FA Cup and league championship, that we missed out a bit in the Champions League.

"I'm happy for the club because every year we were expected to do well in the Champions League we were never in the final four. This year nobody expected anything of us and we are there.

"In the end maybe people felt I was the handicap and I'm relieved for that.

"I'm very happy for the players, the team and the club. In the past we were in positions where it was easier to get through and we didn't.

"This year we have knocked out Real Madrid and Juventus and, of course, now we have a big appetite and we want to play well in the semi-final against Villarreal."

But Wenger insisted Arsenal would not be underestimating their Spanish semi-final opponents.

He stated: "They are a very good team and controlled the game on Tuesday completely.

"They have an outstanding player in Juan Roman Riquelme, who can create chances through set-pieces, final balls and personality, and Diego Forlan and Jose Mari up front look to be very lively and their midfield is technically very good."

If Arsenal can stay in this kind of physical shape, they will definitely be very hard to beat
Fabio Capello

Meanwhile, Gunners captain Thierry Henry insisted Arsenal's progression to their first Champions League semi-final would mean nothing unless they win the tournament in Paris next month.

Henry said: "I'm really proud but I'm a winner and reaching the semi-finals is not the kind of history I'm looking to make.

"We're trying to go all the way and that means winning it. It's a good day for the club but let's extend it.

"I'm a winner and when you wear the Arsenal jersey you have that in your blood. You have to enjoy the moment, then we will see against Villarreal."

Juventus coach Fabio Capello said the tie had been decided at Highbury last week when the Gunners took a two-goal lead.

He said: "We did everything possible and played a good match but the 2-0 from the first leg was too difficult to recover.

"We could not have done any better at this stage of the season.

"If Arsenal can stay in this kind of physical shape, they will definitely be very hard to beat."




WATCH AND LISTEN
News conference: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger


Interviews: Arsenal's Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabgregas and Freddie Ljungerg



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