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Arsenal must beat Everton to save their season, says former Gunners star

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger lifts the FA Cup after defeating Manchester United in 2005. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger lifts the FA Cup after defeating Manchester United in 2005.

Jem Maidment
Thursday, March 6, 2014
12:30 PM

Arsenal’s FA Cup quarter-final with Everton on Saturday lunchtime is now their biggest game of the season.

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That is the do-or-die claim from former Gunner Stewart Robson following Arsenal’s recent defeats to Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Stoke.

With Arsene Wenger’s side stuttering, Robson says the FA Cup can still save the Gunners’ season – but insists the Frenchman must play his strongest side against the Toffees.

“We cannot win the Premier League and we cannot win the Champions League,” Robson declared.

“But the FA Cup can be our salvation. It is all there for us. We can win the trophy without even having to leave London.

“We have had home ties every round and if we get through the semi-final is at Wembley – as is, of course, the final.

“Arsene Wenger simply must choose the strongest side at his disposal, no rotation, no resting key players, just put his strongest XI on the field.

“The fans have stood by this team and they deserve a trophy for their remarkable support. Arsenal supporters, I’m afraid, are getting really fed up.”

Robson, a star midfielder at Highbury between 1981 and 1986, has become a vocal critic of Wenger’s lack of success in recent seasons – polarising fans with his strong views.

And he says the Frenchman must treat the FA Cup with respect.

“For some managers the FA Cup is not so important, but then they tend to be managers who have won a trophy in recent years!

“But Arsenal haven’t. It has been eight and a half years since their last trophy and I am surprised so many people still feel the need to defend that record, because it is not good enough.

“Six years ago I wrote an article in which I said the team is ill-prepared in defence and doesn’t earn the right to play. In that time, nothing has changed.”

Robson claims Arsenal’s recent poor form is down to the fact they are too one-dimensional and struggle to change their style of play.

“They play some wonderful football, believe me,” adds Robson, who was Arsenal’s Player of the Year in 1986.

“They play great high tempo football and can defend well on the front foot. But once that high tempo play drops, as we have seen due to injuries and loss of form, they have no new game plan to counter that.

“I believe Wenger plays off-the-cuff football but his sides have to be more flexible.

“They believe they have earned the right to play the way they want before a ball is kicked – and it doesn’t work like that.

“You have to fight the opposition, battle and work hard. But they believe they can dictate things from the off – we saw this at Southampton, Liverpool and Stoke and we got one point from those games, and were lucky to get that.”

But Robson remains adamant this season can end in glory.

“As I said, we have an opportunity in the FA Cup. For me – and most fans – it remains a wonderful competition, particularly at these latter stages with Wembley looming.

“We are at home and can beat Everton this weekend. I just hope we take this chance and finish the season positively.”

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