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Home > Sports > Football > Reuters > Report

Wenger says Arsenal have strength to succeed

Timothy Collings | August 17, 2007 21:57 IST

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes his youthful side have shown they have the physical presence to maintain their winning start to the season in Saturday's potentially explosive match at Blackburn Rovers.

"It is a different Arsenal now," Wenger told a news conference on Friday. "They are not going to let other teams kick them off the pitch."

Arsenal came from behind to beat Fulham 2-1 in their opening Premier League match last Sunday then survived a physical contest to win a tough Champions League qualifier 2-0 at Sparta Prague on Wednesday.

In last season's corresponding fixture between the clubs, Brazilian midfielder Gilberto was sent off as Arsenal won 2-0 at Blackburn.

There was also an angry confrontation between Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas and Rovers' manager Mark Hughes following a goalless FA Cup tie at the Emirates Stadium.

"Teams reflect the character of their managers and yes, of course, Blackburn have the aggression of Mark Hughes," said Wenger. "But we are not worrying about that. We will worry about how we play not how they play."

He said Fabregas had apologised to Hughes immediately after that incident and Arsenal would not carry any grudges into a game of the kind that had undone his side's challenge last season.

"Last year, we had the team that committed the fewest fouls in the league," said Wenger. "They have shown they will fight for each other and that is so very important."

Wenger said it was important that referees protected all players equally and did not make any greater effort to look after entertainers or quality players.

"It is not a matter for judgment of quality or flair," he said.

"For me, at the top level, it is very important that we stay calm. The players must be focused and also relaxed. It is like golf."

Asked about his contract negotiations, Wenger said he expected to sign an extension "very soon". His current contract finishes at the end of this season.

He said Arsenal would be without Ivory Coast defender Emmanuel Eboue (ankle) and Czech Republic midfielder Tomas Rosicky (knee) but expected Brazilian-born Croatian striker Eduardo to be fit to make his debut.

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