Wednesday 23 January 2019

Premier League must remain priority for Arsenal – Seaman

The Gunners will face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final next month.

Soccer – AXA FA Cup – Final – Arsenal v Southampton
Soccer – AXA FA Cup – Final – Arsenal v Southampton

By Mark Mann-Bryans, Press Association Sport

Former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman believes the club’s focus must remain on the Premier League despite reaching the Carabao Cup final with victory over Chelsea on Wednesday night.

The Gunners advanced to a Wembley meeting with Manchester City after coming from behind to win 2-1 against Antonio Conte’s side as an Antonio Rudiger own goal and a Granit Xhaka strike turned the contest following Eden Hazard’s opener.

Arsenal have not featured in a League Cup final in seven years, losing to Birmingham on that occasion, with Arsene Wenger yet to taste success in the competition during his 21-year reign as boss.

Wenger has relied on the FA Cup for silverware recently, with the club winning three of the last four finals only to be dumped out by Nottingham Forest in the third round this season.

Now the Carabao Cup presents the best opportunity to win a trophy but a return to the Champions League is the least Wenger would have wanted at the start of the campaign.

This is the first season under the Frenchman that Arsenal have not been in Europe’s elite competition, having finished fifth last year, and they now sit five points behind fourth-placed Liverpool.

Wenger celebrates at full-time as his Arsenal side secure their spot in the Carabao Cup final.

They could repeat Manchester United’s feat last season of winning the Europa League to qualify for the Champions League and Seaman wants attention to remain on such a target.

“It is exciting that we have a cup final to go to but let’s not take our focus off what really needs to be done which is obviously the league and the Europa League,” he told talkSPORT.

“They showed character, got a couple of pretty lucky goals to be honest but it was a good performance in the end.

“I think there is just one spot left and that is fourth place, the teams there are Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool and Arsenal are going to have to put a big run together to threaten the other teams.”

Jack Wilshere was once again one of the standout performers as Arsenal, who drew the first-leg of their semi-final 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, progressed to the final.

Jack Wilshere salutes the Arsenal fans after the final whistle.

Nacho Monreal and Mohamed Elneny also impressed but it was Wilshere’s performance which caught the eye for Seaman, who believes Gareth Southgate should take the 26-year-old to this summer’s World Cup.

“He has played brilliantly,” Seaman said of his countryman.

“We have known with Jack that he has this capability of unlocking defences, he can see passes that other players can’t.

“The question-mark was his fitness but he is showing everybody now that it isn’t an issue. He even picked up and injury and came back from that really quickly.

Wilshere has not played for England since the defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016.

“So he is certainly going to be looking for a place in that World Cup squad. I think he (Southgate) would be a fool not to (pick him), if Jack is in this sort of form, why can’t he go?

“He is a guy who has got this magic, I have compared his to Paul Gascoigne, these guys can see passes that other players can’t and Jack has got that, he is showing his fitness so for me, he has got to go.

“I’m not saying he is going to play but he has to go because he is a great option.”

New signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan, signed from Manchester United in exchange for Alexis Sanchez, watched from the stands as he is cup-tied in the Carabao Cup.

Arsenal remain hopeful of adding to the signatures of Mkhitaryan and young defender Konstantinos Mavropanos but a deal for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is dragging and Press Association Sport understands no formal bid has been lodged for West Brom’s Jonny Evans.

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