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As Arsenal players began to assemble for a penalty shootout against Sporting CP at the Emirates, former Gunners defender Martin Keown whispered a hopeful prediction to viewers watching in the UK.

“Winning this could just give them the belief they need to go on to success this season,” he said.

You could see what the ex-Arsenal star was driving at, being able to ultimately overcome a stubborn Sporting CP side who’d frustrated them for 120 minutes would provide more evidence of the team’s mental fortitude.

Added to last-gasp victories against Aston Villa, Fulham and, most dramatically, Bournemouth and it would form a strong body of evidence that the Gunners team this year is simply unwilling to accept anything less than victory when it matters.

“I think we did enough in some periods of the game but most of the game we weren’t on the

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