Wenger relishing Manchester United test

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The Independent Online

Arsene Wenger feels his young Arsenal side will head to Manchester United on Saturday full of confidence after sweeping past Celtic and into today's draw for the group stage of the Champions League.

A somewhat controversial penalty from Eduardo set the Gunners, who were missing injured captain Cesc Fabregas - a doubt for the trip to Old Trafford - on their way just before the half hour.

Emmanuel Eboue made sure there would be no comeback for Tony Mowbray's side with a neat finish before substitute Andrey Arshavin slotted in a third as Arsenal completed a 5-1 aggregate win following a fine volley from Celtic midfielder Massimo Donati in stoppage-time.

Arsenal have now won all of their four matches so far this season and Wenger believes that makes "perfect" preparation for Saturday's showdown with the league champions, who knocked the Gunners out of Europe in last season's semi-finals.

"I am happy to go to Old Trafford because it is the first big, big test," he said. "You want always to have a high level of confidence when you go to Old Trafford, we have that at the moment.

"We are now in the top, top league in Europe, with all the big names. Our team against Celtic was an average age of 23.9 years.

"That means, if we can get out of the group stage, then in six months we can be even stronger.

"That is what we want to focus on, to continue to improve our team play, the speed of our game and show that we have made big improvements come Saturday at 5.15pm.

He added: "For us it is most important to recover physically because Manchester United did not play during the week."

Wenger conceded Arsenal had been somewhat fortunate to be awarded the penalty when Eduardo went down following what looked minimal contact at best from Celtic keeper Artur Boruc.

"From outside I must say it looked a penalty but, having seen it again on television, it doesn't look to be a penalty," Wenger said.

"But I must still say that we were likely always to score the first goal because Eduardo had a great chance before the penalty and we always looked in control of the game."

Wenger continued: "I am not sure that the keeper didn't touch him with his right knee, having seen it again.

"I do not want a penalty which is not a penalty, but I do not go as far to say Eduardo dived.

"He went down, for what reason I do not know. But I do not think he would have complained if the penalty was not given."

The Arsenal manager, though, stressed: "Is it acceptable? I never asked in my life any guy to dive to win a penalty but sometimes the players go down because there is no other way to escape the tackling of the keeper, sometimes they dive.

"We got a penalty [against us] two years ago in the quarter-final of the Champions League [at Liverpool] that made the difference when [Ryan] Babel dived, nobody ever apologised to us, it was a blatant dive and nobody spoke about it."

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