By Chris Harris
Mikael Silvestre hopes his experience will hold Arsenal in good stead as they embark on an arduous April agenda.
Arsène Wenger's side kick off a run of seven games in 22 days when Manchester City visit Emirates Stadium on Saturday. The race for a top-four place is Arsenal's immediate focus but a Champions League tie with Villarreal looms large while an FA Cup Semi-Final with Chelsea is also packed into a hectic schedule.
April is traditionally a time when contenders push on, also-rans fall short - and the pressure mounts. Silvestre has seen it all before, scooping seven major trophies during his time with Manchester United. The 31-year-old returned from injury with the Reserves last week and intends to play his part on and off the pitch in the crucial weeks to come.
"I can help the young players deal with the pressure just by being with them and behaving like I have my whole career," Silvestre told Arsenal.com.
"Maybe they can learn from that but the talent is there. What I can give extra is my own experience. I don't make a long speech to them, I just behave normally and we get on with it.
"On the playing side I am doing my best to be ready every three days. I'm feeling good. I had been running for a while - probably a month - before the reserve game. So it's just a matter of getting some games in and get into situations which you can't have in training."
If Arsenal get past Villarreal in the Champions League, they will play an eighth April fixture - a Semi-Final first leg at either Porto or Manchester United. The prospect of facing his old club is an exciting one for Silvestre.
"It has been the case already this season so it wouldn't be the first time," he pointed out. "But obviously it would be a special occasion and I hope it's going to be the case."Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source