Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal can handle Elland Road’s daunting atmosphere when they face Leeds United in an FA Cup replay on Wednesday.
The two sides drew 1-1 at the Emirates Stadium on January 7, with Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas’ last-minute equaliser from the penalty spot cancelling out Robert Snodgrass’s opener.
Crippling debts saw Leeds go from Champions League semi-finalists to League One in a matter of seasons, but the club have now recovered some of their standing to sit in the Championship promotion places.
Throughout their freefall, however, the club maintained their healthy support, though Wenger is confident his side has the mettle to deal with Leeds’ parochial home fans.
“I believe no matter what they do, the fans will be behind the team at Leeds,” Wenger said.
“But on the other hand, we are used to that. It would not be any excuse for us. We have played all over the world – everywhere – in vociferous stadiums, and I don’t think that will be any excuse for us to say, ‘OK they had a massive support’.”
“It’s normal. It’s natural. You want that to happen. What is important is that you show your quality no matter in what kind of environment you play.”
Wenger was impressed with the ‘tactical discipline’ and ‘positive attitude’ in the 1-1 result at the Emirates, but said his side knew where it had to improve to get a better outcome at the second time of asking.
“We want to be sharper, more positive,” he said.
“We started the game a little off our usual level, and that means first of all, mentally you want to switch on much quicker.”