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Apr 10, 2014

Wenger backs under-pressure players

Arsene Wenger admits big away defeats have affected his side's confidence after Arsenal suffered a 3-0 defeat to top four rivals Everton.

LONDON -- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has insisted he has no concerns about his side’s ability to perform on the big stage as they prepare for Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal against Wigan at Wembley.

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The Gunners have come up short in a growing list of high-profile games this season, with heavy defeats at Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton ending their Premier League title challenge, while they were eliminated from the Champions League by Bayern Munich.

It has led to suggestions that Wenger’s players lack the temperament required to shine when the pressure is applied in a big game, but the Arsenal boss was quick to reject that accusation.

“We are in the semifinal of the FA Cup and we have not been invited to play there,” Wenger reminded reporters at the club’s London Colney training base.

“We have played great games against Tottenham, Everton and Liverpool, they are not average teams. We have produced great performances and we want to do it again in the semifinal of the FA Cup.

“We have beaten all the teams we have been confronted with by producing top level performances. That is what we will do on Saturday against Wigan.

“We are favourite, yes. It doesn’t mean that you win. You win when you produce a quality performances. In this competition, we have produced top quality performances so let’s continue to do that.”

Wenger refused to be drawn on whether he would prioritise a top-four finish in the Premier League ahead of success in the FA Cup, while he insisted memories of their most recent visit to Wembley will not affect their hopes of success this time around.

Arsenal’s nervous performance in defeat against Birmingham in the 2011 League Cup final was one of the big disappointments suffered by Wenger’s team over recent years, but he was determined to talk up his side’s positive experiences at Wembley ahead of this visit.

“We have good memories at Wembley as well and that’s what we want to renew,” he added “The size of the pitch is exactly the same. We will be focused to renew the happy memories

“What is important is to restore the confidence and belief after the Everton game. We have players with experience, they are 28, 29, 30 years old. They know what is at stake.”

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