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YOU ARE OVER A TRAP DOOR! Wenger's warning to his French pals.

Byline: MARC ISAACS

ARSENE WENGER believes Giovanni Trapattoni holds the key to helping the Republic of Ireland claim a famous victory over France in their World Cup play-off.

Arsenal's French manager Wenger has nothing but admiration for the way Trapattoni manages to get the best out of his players and still has huge enthusiasm for the game at the age of 70.

Ireland pushed the world champions all the way in Group 8, with Italy needing a lastminute equaliser at Croke Park to book their place at the finals in South Africa.

Trap has one of the most impressive managerial records in the modern game and Wenger claims the French side would be mad to think they will stroll to victory over the two legs.

Wenger said: "I believe that in a contest like this, experience will play its part. I have a big respect for Trapattoni - not only for what he has achieved but for his passion.

"When you look at this guy, he is still ready to fight every day and you must respect that hugely.

"At the moment I don't think France are the same team which reached the World Cup Final back in 2006.

"But I must say that in the last three games they have shown a resurgence of quality in the national team and they are better than six months ago. They produced good performances against Romania, Faroe Islands and Serbia and are on the way up. I think it will be very interesting."

Wenger is hoping to earn the bragging rights over old mate Liam Brady and celebrate a French victory.

Brady (inset) has played a major role in Trapattoni's team and combines his Irish coaching role with his work as head of youth development and academy director at Arsenal.

The Gunners legend has forged a close bond with Wenger since the French coach arrived in 1996.

But their relationship has been tested to the maximum following the draw and Brady's close involvement with the Irish team. Wenger has no doubts that France have more quality, but can see the amazing team spirit Trap has instilled in his side and feels they will be a real match for the French over two legs.

Wenger added: "It could be very interesting - at Arsenal we have one part of the bench who will be sitting with Ireland, and I am French.

"Liam Brady and I are having very interesting conversations at the moment!

"I believe France has more individual quality - the question mark is how the enthusiasm and collective drive of Ireland, and their efficiency on the day, counteract the technical superiority of the French team.

" I am keen to see the mixture of Irish passion and drive going forward with the shrewd calculating temper of Trapattoni against the French.

"France's national team are still very young but they certainly have a lot of quality."

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KIND OF BLEU Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is backing his home country to topple Ireland in the play-off
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 8, 2009
Words:500
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