28/04/2009 17:21, Report by Adam Bostock
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Wenger's respect for Ryan

Arsene Wenger may have been on the receiving end of Ryan Giggs' famous semi-final goal in 1999 - but the Arsenal boss isn't bitter.

Instead, the Gunners manager has nothing but respect for United's newly-crowned PFA Player of the Year and his awesome longevity - Giggs could make his historic 800th appearance for the Reds, in Wednesday night's showdown with Wenger's side.

"I have a big respect for Ryan Giggs because he started his career in 1991 and we are now in 2009," said an impressed Arsene in his pre-match press conference at Old Trafford.

"When a guy has played 18 years at that level, you have to have complete respect. The focus and the sacrifices that it demands to be at the top level for 18 years are massive.

"Now he has been named Player of the Year and there has been a big debate (about that). OK, maybe this hasn't been the best year of his career but the only miracle is not that he got it this year, it's that he never got it before."

Giggs was 25 when he scored the stunning solo goal to knock Arsenal out of the FA Cup just over ten years ago; many of Wenger's current players are still younger than that and he is hoping they are now on the verge of something special. He accepts the "Arsenal are still developing, still maturing, maybe next year" mantra is past its sell-by date now.

"This is the moment when we want to show we have what is needed," he said.

"We have built a young team because we wanted to develop a special way of playing and a special spirit.

"Our players have been educated together from the age of 16 to 23, 24 and we think there is something special (about them) which we hope will come out at this level of the competition. This is the moment we've waited for."

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