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Apr 7, 2009

Pires confident of upsetting old club Arsenal

Robert Pires is confident Villarreal can knock his former club Arsenal out of the UEFA Champions League.

The Spaniards will be at home for Tuesday's first leg and Pires, who left Emirates Stadium for El Madrigal in 2006, is expecting a difficult clash. The in-form Gunners have been tipped to advance to the semi-finals but Pires believes Villarreal are good enough to upset the odds.

He told Sky Sports: "We are a good team and really we are prepared to defeat Arsenal. Our dream is to get to the final and for that to happen we have to knock out Arsenal.

"I am an ambitious footballer and will be very unhappy if we cannot qualify.

"I have confidence in my team and our chances of a win against the Gunners. Many people do not believe we are favourites in this round but in football it is not always the team with money and history (that wins).

"We want to enter the history books. I still want to win a Champions League title and with Villarreal it would be magic."

Pires believes he has shown he still has a lot to offer since joining Villarreal and he would love to make a major contribution against Arsene Wenger's side.

"After leaving Arsenal many people felt this was my footballing farewell and maybe my adventure in Spain was about money and holidays," he explained. "I want to demonstrate in this tie that these people have been mistaken. My challenge is to play my best games of the season."

Pires insists he still has a good relationship with Wenger, despite the experienced manager's decision to let him move on.

"I do not have personal problems with Wenger. They [Arsenal] have decided on my exit in June 2006 because they had prepared a new project and I did not have a place in this," explained the French midfielder.

"I do no understand the decision but I accepted it and now I am happy in Villarreal."

Villarreal boss Manuel Pellegrini, meanwhile, is also upbeat about his side's chances of progressing to the next round.

But Pellegrini insists he is not motivated by thoughts of revenge after Villarreal lost to Arsenal in the 2006 semi-finals.

"We have the chance to be in the semi-finals of the Champions League once again and this is much more important than us taking revenge," he said. "It will be a great game because the two teams use the ball very well. For us, we are going to go out looking for the win from the first minute."

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