Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger has talked about the FA Cup dream and his respect for Wigan Athletic before they face each other in the semi-final at Wembley tomorrow.
Arsenal will face Wigan Athletic in the first semi-final of the FA Cup tomorrow at Wembley. After slipping out of the title race and being knocked out of the Champions League, the FA Cup remains their only hope of salvaging this season that promised so much initially. Arsenal are of course the favorites on paper to win this competition among the four teams that have made it through to this stage, but the Gunners won’t make the mistake of taking this Wigan side lightly. Arsene Wenger will need no reminding of what happened against Birmingham back in the 2011 League Cup final and he will urge his side to make amends this time around.
The new Wembley doesn’t hold good memories for the London club, who have lost on their last two visits to this stadium – against Chelsea in the 2009 FA Cup semi-final and Birmingham as mentioned above. But Arsene Wenger did manage to win four FA Cups in the old Wembley and he wants to renew those memories as they take on Wigan tomorrow.
“We have good memories of Wembley as well [as the defeats] and that is what we want to renew.
“What is important is that the size of the pitch is exactly the same and I don’t think that the environment plays a big part in that. What is important is that we turn up and respond well to our disappointing performance on Sunday [at Everton]. We will be focused to renew the happy memories.” – The Arsenal manager said.
Wenger insists that the current squad has enough experience in them to deliver on this big stage and has looked back on his team’s good performances in this competition this season.
“We have many players who are 28, 29 and 30 years old – they have experience, they know what is at stake.
“[I expect] everyone to contribute. We have a lot of experience, and we are in a semi-final because we have produced great performances.
“We have played great games against Tottenham, Everton, Liverpool. They are not average teams, we have produced great performances and that’s what we want to do again in the semi-final of the FA Cup.” – Wenger added.
Wigan Athletic will be no pushovers though; the Championship side has already eliminated three Premier League teams in the previous rounds, including Manchester City at the Etihad – a ground where Arsenal have conceded six goals earlier this season. Arsene Wenger is aware of the quality this Wigan side possesses and acknowledges that his will have to be at their best to go past them.
“For us what is very important is to win the semi-final and it’s important we focus on that.
“After that we play against an opponent that has done well in this competition. They have beaten Man City at Man City so we want to focus on that and make sure we can go through. We respect highly for Wigan for what they have done and the best way to go to the final is to do that.
“You win when you produce a quality performance. We have, in this competition, produced top quality performances so just let’s continue with that.
“We have a team who has a lot of experience. We are in a competition where we have a great opportunity, we play against a good opponent but it’s a great challenge for us and of course we want to take the opportunity to go in the final.” – He said in his pre-match press conference.