By Chris Harris
According to Arsène Wenger, practice does not necessarily make perfect when it comes to penalties.
The Frenchman has experienced spot-kick highs and lows during his time in charge at Arsenal. His side lost the UEFA Cup Final to Galatasaray on penalties seven years ago but beat Manchester United in a shoot-out at the FA Cup Final in 2005.
Wenger watched in disbelief as Gilberto and Julio Baptista both missed from 12 yards during the FA Cup replay at Bolton in midweek. Arsenal's 3-1 extra-time victory allowed the Frenchman to smile about it when the issue was raised at his pre-match press conference on Friday.
However, Wenger admits there is little he can do to rectify the problem on the training pitches.
"What is unbelievable about penalties is the more you practise them the worse it gets!" he said. "I don't think I've experienced two different misses from two different players in the same game before, I don't remember that. But I don't worry about it at all.
"When we played against Manchester United in the FA Cup Final we didn't practise penalties, but the next day we put them all in. Perhaps we should stop practising. You cannot recreate exactly the same psychological conditions in the game, nor the impact the goalkeeper has on the day.
"For example, in the FA Cup Final the day before I
practised with the goalkeepers. [Jens] Lehmann didn't stop one
and [Manuel] Almunia stopped them, but
the next day Lehmann had an outstanding game and stopped a penalty which made us win. It's very difficult to predict."
So what happens if Arsenal get a penalty in the future? Would Gilberto get a chance to redeem himself? "Gilberto may be happy to carry on, but I'm not sure if I'm happy," smiled Wenger.
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