Sport Soccer

Saturday 10 December 2016

Arsene Wenger: We had to win big games to get here and now it's time to finish the job

Matt McGeehan

Published 27/05/2015 | 14:23

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger has told his Arsenal side to "finish the job" and win Saturday's FA Cup final against Aston Villa.

  • Go To

The Gunners ended a nine-year trophy drought by beating Hull in last season's final and victory over Villa would make Wenger the first post-war manager to win the FA Cup six times.

Hull were Arsenal's third-round opponents before wins over Brighton, Middlesbrough, Manchester United and Reading - after a semi-final which went to extra-time - saw Wenger's men advance

"It's not easy. I would love to do it but I'm not honestly focused on that," said the Gunners boss.

"I'm more focused on the fact that we have fought so hard to get there.

"We went to Man United to qualify and we had to win big games to get there. Now we want to finish the job."

Comparing his emotions 12 months on from the build-up to the final with Hull when his position was under scrutiny, Wenger said: "The demand was absolute last year.

"Personally I am always the same when I go into big game like this - I have always the same pressure, I just want to do it."

Wenger's side finished third in the Barclays Premier League and are aiming to cap a successful season which he hopes to build upon next term.

"It's not easy to get to the FA Cup final and it's not easy to finish in the top three in England," he added.

"We have been remarkably consistent since January and that's why I think we have a good chance next season."

First his focus is on Saturday, when Arsenal must prevail without striker Danny Welbeck, who has been ruled out of both the cup clash and England's forthcoming internationals with the Republic of Ireland and Slovenia with a knee injury.

Wenger insisted Welbeck, who has not played since the goalless draw with Chelsea on April 26, has not suffered a setback.

"His bone bruising of the knee has not healed," the Frenchman added.

"It took longer than expected. He didn't practice until (last) Friday, so I knew he would be short for the FA Cup. I was prepared for that."

Wenger has a number of selection decisions to make, such as whether to persist with Wojciech Szczesny in the FA Cup, despite the Poland goalkeeper being displaced as first choice by David Ospina in the league.

The Gunners boss must also decide if Theo Walcott will start up front after his hat-trick in last season's Premier League-concluding 4-1 defeat of West Brom.

"I will not tell you anything today," Wenger added.

"I don't know who will start yet. Nobody knows at the moment. I just think it is important to focus as a whole squad on winning the trophy.

"Most of the time the heroes are the people who come on in an FA Cup final - they make the difference.

"Let's deal with it as a whole squad."

George Ramsay is the only manager to have won six FA Cups, claiming his most recent with Villa in 1920.

Arsenal are favourites having beaten Villa 3-0 and 5-0 in their two Premier League encounters this season, but that was before Paul Lambert was replaced by Tim Sherwood as boss.

"He has done extremely well," Wenger said of the former Tottenham boss.

"He has lifted their confidence and got them to go forward a lot.

"Overall I believe he has done a very good job."

Sherwood revealed he almost signed for Arsenal before Wenger's appointment in October 1996 ended the move.

"I remember him very well," said Wenger, who instead signed Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira.

"He was a good midfielder and it is true that at some stage there were talks with him."

Press Association

Read More

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport