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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 5, 2009

Fans will be vital to Arsenal's hopes - Wenger

Arsene Wenger feels the Emirates Stadium crowd can prove ''vital'' in Arsenal's quest to overturn holders Manchester United and reach the final of the Champions League on Tuesday night.

The Gunners were caught cold at Old Trafford last week, when United raced into an early lead, inspired by a passionate home support.

Wenger believes the Arsenal faithful can make their 60,000-seater stadium just as intimidating an atmosphere tonight, when his men must cancel out United's slender 1-0 advantage from the first leg.

''They will be vital,'' the Arsenal manager declared. ''It was one of the loudest Old Traffords I have seen, because Champions League semi-finals are maybe the most difficult game and most important game for everybody as you are 90 minutes from the final.

''We have the opportunity to put that pressure onto them, and certainly our fans will contribute to that.''

Too many of Wenger's main men failed to fire in the first leg, when only a superb individual performance by goalkeeper Manuel Almunia prevented the tie already being beyond the Gunners.

However, with just one goal separating the sides, Wenger - boosted by the return of fit again leading scorer Robin van Persie - is confident the likes of captain Cesc Fabregas, England winger Theo Walcott and Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor can carry Arsenal to an historic victory.

''There is no Mission Impossible for us,'' Wenger insisted, when asked if the game would be beyond his side should United get a crucial away goal.

''I believe that when we have beaten United at home in the Premier League, there have been plenty of opportunities - and I do not think that would change my belief at all if they score.''

Wenger, whose side lost the 2006 final to Barcelona in Paris, added: ''Everybody is focused and ready for the game.We are all aware it is our team performance that will be important rather than the responsibility on any individual.

''We are more than a selection of individuals. We are first a team. We have developed like that and our game is based on the collective play.

''I want them to focus on that. How well we play collectively will make the difference. I am very confident the team will produce a magnificent performance.''

With Van Persie having shaken off a groin problem, Wenger could opt for a two-man attack, with Fabregas dropping back to his traditional role at the heartbeat of the side.

The Spaniard, who turned 22 yesterday, believes now is the time for Arsenal's young Gunners to deliver on their potential.

''If I had not come to Arsenal when I was 16, today I probably would not be playing in the semi-finals of the Champions League or have the opportunity to play in a Champions League final,'' he said.

''I am really grateful to what Arsenal have done for me. Now it is up to me and all the Arsenal players who were brought here when they were young to achieve things for the club who believed in you and the fans who supported you.

''Now it is up to us to pay them back.''

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