By Giuseppe Muro
Any nerves that existed during the Carling Cup Final defeat to Birmingham will not affect Arsenal at the Nou Camp, according to Arsène Wenger.
The manager admits that the unique nature of a Final may have added a new, unfamiliar pressure to that of other ‘big games’. But, ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League game against Barcelona, Wenger says his players are equipped to cope with the expectation.
“Wembley was a special occasion for the first time for some players,” said the manager. “It was more than the game, it was the trophy.
“That is the first time they have experienced that. But big games, they have played plenty home and away so that will not be a problem for us in Barcelona.
“We have to take a distance from the Carling Cup Final now and just play our game.”
Despite going behind to David Villa’s early strike, Arsenal take a slender lead into the last-16 second leg thanks to Robin van Persie and Andrey Arshavin’s late goals at Emirates Stadium.
Some suggested that the result proved Arsenal could mix it with the best in Europe. But Wenger always had faith in his team to prove their quality.
“I knew that we could do it and I thought it was just a question of timing. Even if you are in the job as long as I have been, you don’t know when the time will be there.
“I know that this team will become stronger and stronger. How quickly? It is very difficult to predict. Even if you look at the history of our team within the season, we have became stronger and stronger.”Copyright 2013 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 5 Mar 2011