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Zenit sign Bart Simpson

The Toe Poke 6 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 7, 2006

Awestruck Lippi hails 'beautiful' Gunners

Italy coach Marcello Lippi has been awestruck by Arsenal's march to the Champions League semi-finals.

The former Juventus boss applauded Arsene Wenger's men, who completed a 2-0 aggregate quarter-final victory over the runaway Serie A leaders on Wednesday night.

Lippi admitted Wenger's decision to field a young defence has proved both a brave and astute move, with the Gunners setting a Champions League record eight consecutive clean sheets and only conceding two goals in Europe this season.

'The most beautiful thing in the Champions League this season has been Arsenal,' Lippi told Gazzetta dello Sport.

'Their growth has been incredible.

'They have done something which in Italy we could never allow ourselves to do.

'Arsenal are 28 points behind Chelsea in the domestic league (they are actually 26 points behind), they have invested in youth and they are being rewarded.

'They started their season playing with Lauren, (Pascal) Cygan, (Sol) Campbell, (Ashley) Cole in defence and they eliminated Juve with (Emmanuel) Eboue, (Kolo) Toure, (Philippe) Senderos and (Mathieu) Flamini.'

Lippi believes the English club's approach can be a lesson to their Italian counterparts.

'Can you imagine Juve and Milan 28 points behind the leaders?' said Lippi.

'Instead, in England even Manchester United invests in youth and although they have paid the price in Europe, they find themselves now just seven points behind Chelsea and with the clash between them still to come.

'It's going to be difficult for Manchester United to win the title but they have recovered.'