Semi-final: second leg (first leg: 1-0)
Manuel Pellegrini insists Villarreal not throw caution to the wind as they look to overturn Arsenal ‘s first-leg advantage at tonight.
Arsenal hold a slender 1-0 advantage from the first leg, but the Chilean is confident his team have it within them to prevail in El Madrigal.
“Our philosophy has taken us this far, so our approach to playing Arsenal and recording a better score than they managed against us at Highbury will be exactly the same as for every other European game at El Madrigal this season,” said Pellegrini.
“We play a certain style of football and although Arsenal are difficult rivals who can approach this match with a certain calmness given that they lead 1-0, I see no reason to change now.
Pellegrini is relieved to welcome back goalkeeper Sebastian Viera from suspension, while Juan Manuel Pena, Quique Alvarez and Jose Maria Romero are all likely starters after recovering from a variety of knocks.
Arsenal can expect to face a compact three-man midfield of Marcos Senna, Josico and Juan Pablo Sorín and, again, the test will be whether Arsène Wenger’s back line – including Sol Campbell once more with Philippe Senderos injured – and anchorman Gilberto can contain Juan Román Riquelme.
Pellegrini has no plans to man-mark Thierry Henry, the man on whom so much of Arsenal’s play relies.
“I want Villarreal to keep possession and use it well, that’s the best possible way of stopping Thierry Henry,” he said.
“The greater pressure is on Arsenal – our only pressure comes from our desire to reach the final and we’re here to take that last step.”
Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger will encourage his players to defend in numbers but to be prepared to launch counter attacks whenever they have possession.
“The tactic I have asked the players to fulfil is that we defend in numbers when we don’t have the ball but then we all push for the attacking option as soon as we are in possession. The best tactic for us is to score another goal,” said the Arsenal boss.
Wenger welcomes back England defender Sol Campbelll to a defence which has gone 829 minutes without conceding a goal. Campbell deputises for Philippe Senderoos who suffered suspected ligament damage in the 1-1 draw with Spurs on Saturday.
The Frenchman is confident that Campbell has overcome his recent problems.
“Sol is absolutely ready to help us achieve our goal,” added Wenger. “A player like him needs a big game to inspire him.”
Gael Clichy is also back in the squad for the first time since November, while the Wenger may also bring in Jose Antonio Reyes for Robert Pires.
“If you want to reach a major final like this you need to play two good matches and so far we only have one under our belt,” Wenger continued.
“I don’t see that we are favourites because all we have won is a slight score advantage and a slight psychological advantage.”
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