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Transfer Rater: Oblak to Juventus


Mahlambi, Ndlovu back in Bafana fold

South Africa
By ESPN Staff

Wenger insists Gunners not losing their cool

Arsene Wenger insists he is not cracking under the pressure of Arsenal's European quest.

Wenger, who exploded in a fit of fury during Saturday's draw with Tottenham, will demand cool heads from his players in Villarreal.

He shrugged-off his angry row with Spurs boss Martin Jol and focused on protecting a 1-0 lead in tomorrow's Champions League semi-final second leg.

The Arsenal boss insists he does not feel the heat and nor will Sol Campbell, who will be thrown back into battle against the Spaniards with Philippe Senderos injured.

Campbell could not return at a more crucial moment - not only because the Gunners are within touching distance of their first European Cup final but also because it is suddenly their main route back into the competition next season.

Wenger said: 'I feel quite relaxed contrary to the impression I gave on Saturday because I believe my team is up for it.

'I trust this team completely and what happened was nothing to do with the pressure of getting results.

'We have it all to go for because three months ago nobody would have dreamed we would be where we are and that's why I take it in a very positive way.'

Arsenal's European form has been incredible. They have not conceded a goal in Europe for nine games and have knocked out both Juventus and Real Madrid.

Wenger said: 'It is the shortest way for us to get into the Champions League and it is in our hands.

'But it's certainly the most difficult way because we play 90 minutes in an away game and then a final. To get into the Champions League we have to win the final.'

Spurs are fourth in the Premiership and must self-destruct to let their neighbours back in. Jol knows, however, that finishing fourth will not be enough if Arsenal win the Champions League.

After last season's farce with Liverpool and Everton, UEFA have demanded that the European champions will defend their title at the expense of the team in the lowest qualification spot from their league.

Wenger said: 'I still think we have a chance if Tottenham have one draw in their two games, we can still finish on top of them.'

Arsenal flew to Spain today and Wenger told the press he did not want to dwell on his antics during and after the Spurs game, when he called Jol a liar.

The Football Association will wait to read the referee Steve Bennett's report before deciding whether they need to investigate the issue further.

Wenger said: 'I said what I said after the game. You are free to write what you write, Tottenham are free to say what they want am I free to think what I want.

'We are in front of a semi-final of the Champions League and, if you want to make a press conference about what happened on Saturday, stop it straight away.

'If you want to talk about tomorrow's game, we can go on.'

Wenger believes he is in the right frame of mind for the Villarreal game and that Campbell is too.

The England defender walked out on his team at half-time in a Premiership game against West Ham on February 1 and made just one appearance since.

Wenger said: 'Sol may be missing a game or two but can compensate with experience.

'It is an important game for us and for him. He is 90 minutes away from a cup final and in the background there is his desire to go to the World Cup.

'But I would like him to forget that and focus on this as a football game.'

Senderos will go for a scan on the knee he injured against Spurs but could be out for the rest of the season.

Wenger will order his team to attack Villarreal and try to score the goal which would kill the tie.

The Arsenal boss said: 'Let's try and score and that will be a big blow to them. You cannot go into a game, 1-0 up, thinking you can just rely on that.

'We have shown character and Juventus and Real Madrid and we need it again. It will be a more intimidating atmosphere because it is a small stadium and therefore I feel the heat will be higher.'