Wenger: We may never have a better chance

Last updated at 09:10 19 April 2006

Arsene Wenger is convinced his emerging side have the "character" to write a new chapter in Arsenal's history and he challenged his team to go out with a bang as they prepare for the final European tie at Highbury.

The Gunners take on Villarreal in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final tonight in a game which will have extra significance as the club ready themselves for the switch to Ashburton Grove and a new, 60,000-seater stadium next season.

Wenger said: "There is no right for anybody to be there - if you look at what Juventus have invested recently, for three years on the trot they have gone out in the quarter-final now.

"So of course you want to take your chance and opportunity."

Highbury has certainly seen its fair share of classic encounters since 1913, and this season the famous old venue has produced some memorable European nights, as both Real Madrid and Juventus were humbled on Avenell Road.

Wenger firmly believes the current crop of youth and experience have all the makings of another fine team.

"This side has made a big, big step forwards," declared the Frenchman, who took charge at Highbury in September 1996.

"I always had consistent belief in this team, and felt there was something in there which would come out.

"I believe we are ahead of schedule with them because they have character."

Villarreal, like the Gunners, have reached the Champions League semi-finals for the first time - and on their debut season in the competition having knocked out Everton from the qualifiers and finished ahead of Manchester United in the group stages.

Wenger insists no-one will be taking the challenge of the Spanish side lightly tonight, but has urged his side to focus on playing their own style and not getting lost in the occasion.

"I feel you should not go into the game thinking you have not to fail," observed Wenger, his side now having kept a record eight straight clean sheets in Europe.

"We want to just enjoy it, be up for it and love it because we have waited for so long to be there.

"We have not made it for eight years, so let's just enjoy it, go for it and love it."

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