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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb, 15, 2007

Wenger impressed by 'positive' Arsenal

Arsene Wenger has insisted Arsenal never felt under any psychological pressure to overcome their Bolton jinx.

After three successive defeats at the Reebok Stadium and only one win in their last eight encounters with the Trotters, Wenger's men finally came good last night to book an FA Cup fifth-round encounter with Blackburn.

Arsenal did it the hard way, missing numerous gilt-edged chances, including two penalties, before eventually recording a 3-1 extra-time triumph.

The victory should help quell the growing belief Arsenal cannot handle Bolton's forceful approach, with Wenger claiming there was no need for his side to feel intimidated.

'There was no psychological handbrake in terms of playing Bolton,' he said.

'The way we approached the game was very positive. We started strongly and after about 10 minutes I felt really reassured.

'I always felt it would be a good challenge for my players.

'At the moment, we have an exceptional mental strength and the way we responded, after Bolton had pulled level, was fantastic.'

Having spurned so many clear opportunities, Arsenal must have felt it was not going to be their night when Abdoulaye Meite stroked home Bolton's equaliser in stoppage time.

But, after surviving a major scare when Kevin Nolan hit a post, the Gunners rallied and Freddie Ljungberg put them back in front when he strode onto Jeremie Aliadiere's through-ball.

Adebayor netted another with virtually the last kick, by which time Tal Ben Haim had been sent off for his second bookable offence.

'It was an exceptional game played at an electric pace,' said Wenger.

'There were patches of total football in there and it was definitely one of our best performances of the season.'

Wenger has little time to rest his players ahead of Saturday's clash with Blackburn at the Emirates Stadium.

However, the return of rested trio Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Jens Lehmann against Mark Hughes' men appears automatic.

Bolton boss Sam Allardyce has no such concerns now, with his team not in action until they head to Spurs on February 25.

The Trotters will now head south without Ben Haim, a situation Allardyce is not happy with.

'There were three bookings in the game and somehow, Tal has picked up two of them,' he said.

'I appreciate he might have pulled Baptista back on the second occasion but there were far worse things that went on in the game than the first one.

'You can't just look at isolated incidents, you have to see the whole picture and I am disappointed at the way the referee handled it.'

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