Villarreal’s Robert Pires has admitted he is relishing taking on his former Arsenal side in the Champions League and is hoping to knock the Gunners out of the competition.
The two clubs were paired together in Friday’s draw for the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite competition, and that will mean a reunion between Pires and the team he left in 2006.
Yet the Frenchman also confessed that revenge was on his mind after a disappointing end to his Arsenal career.
Pires’ last game for the Gunners came in the final of the Champions League against Barcelona when he was substituted early on after goalkeeper Jens Lehman had been sent off.
Speaking to the News of the World, the former Marseille midfielder revealed that manager Arsene Wenger’s decision to take him off in the final still hurt him and that this was the prime motivation for his decision to leave north London.
“My biggest disappointment was playing only 18 minutes in the Champions League final. Wenger killed me when he took me off,” explained Pires.
“For that reason, I could not stay at Arsenal and I moved to Villarreal.
“The final was played in Paris. All my family were there and I really suffered.”
The 35-year-old also tipped his Primera Division side to beat the Gunners and pointed to the dearth of home-grown players in the Arsenal team as the reason why.
“Arsenal lack English players at the moment. That ingredient is very important and it’s missing,” explained the Frenchman.
“When I arrived, there were a lot of English players there and that is why we won. You need to have a mix in the dressing room. What I see now is that they lack that mix.
“I’m sure Arsenal won’t be happy with the Euro draw. The only thing in my head is to knock them out."
Gill Clark, Goal.com