By Richard Clarke
Enjoyment will be Arsenal’s main motivation on Tuesday evening, according to Arsène Wenger.
Manchester United arrive at Emirates Stadium for the Champions League Semi-Final second leg with a narrow but important 1-0 advantage from the first game.
At his pre-match press conference, the Arsenal manager was asked if he needed to inspire his side after a lacklustre performance at Old Trafford last week. Wenger responded by suggesting the occasion would offer more encouragement then any team-talk.
"The players' dream is to be in the Final, so you don’t need the motivation,” said the Frenchman.
“It’s more important to relax the players and focus on what you want to do rather than anything else. At the moment you can read every day in the papers players in the Premier League are playing not to go down, that it’s the most important game and the biggest game that you cannot afford to lose.
“That doesn’t help. What is important is to enjoy it.
“To play football well, you have to be happy to play. It’s not because you say to players that if you don’t do this or that, you will die. That doesn’t make them better players.
“Every football player who plays at the top level wants to be a super player and wants to win big trophies – and we have a great opportunity to do that.”
It is entirely typical of Wenger to talk of “opportunities” rather than problems before a massive game. Despite the display in Manchester, he would argue that Arsenal are halfway into the Final rather than halfway out of the competition.
"How do I rate our chances?” Wenger asked himself. “I believe we will make it. I'm not interested in how many chances we will have, I just believe we will make it.
"We have a good opportunity to enjoy it and we have a good chance to play the football we love. Let's go out and do that and let other people talk.
"No matter what happens on Tuesday I believe this team will make a big impact in the game and that is what we want to continue to develop.
"The progress this team has made since the start of the season has been remarkable. We are on a fantastic run in the Premier League - 21 games unbeaten - we are in the Semi-Final of the Champions League and we were in the Semi-Final of the FA Cup. I am convinced we can make it to this Final.
“We just have to be positive and optimistic about this team.”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