Pressure is off Arsenal in FA Cup final, says Gunners boss
PUBLISHED: 12:38 15 May 2014 | UPDATED: 12:38 15 May 2014
Arsene Wenger believes his side will go into Saturday’s FA Cup final with less pressure than they faced on their last Wembley appearance.
The Gunners had failed to win any of their four league games in the build-up to last month’s semi-final and looked unconvincing as they scraped past Wigan after a penalty shoot-out.
By contrast, Wenger and his team return to Wembley to face Hull City on the back of a five-match winning run – bidding to end their barren spell of nine years without a trophy.
While the Arsenal boss insists his side will not be complacent, he expects them to be more relaxed given their form and the fact that they are no longer battling to seal Champions League qualification.
“At the time [of the semi-final] we were at a lower level of confidence. We had come off some bad results and let’s not forget we played against a team who had beaten Manchester City away,” said Wenger.
“Now we’ve secured the minimum required in the Premier League and that takes the pressure off, but there’s a big desire to finish the season on a high.
“I don’t feel there’s any danger of complacency. Hull are a Premier League team, they can pass the ball and create chances and it’s down to us performing well on the day of the game.
“We know the difficulty of the task. If you look at our run in the FA Cup, we had a hard task – Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton – but we have done the job and we want to finish it now.
“Expectancy always brings pressure, but we played many games in the season with that tension and pressure and our experience of that will help us.
“To be favourites is one thing, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. Let’s just focus on turning up with a great performance and finishing the season well.”
Wenger refused to drop any hints about his team selection for Wembley, although club captain Thomas Vermaelen (knee) and midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin) remain major doubts.
Opinion is divided as to whether Lukasz Fabianski – who has played in every round of the FA Cup so far and also featured in Arsenal’s Premier League match at Norwich last Sunday – will retain his place in goal or make way for first choice Wojciech Szczesny.
Right-back Bacary Sagna, whose contract expires shortly, is expected to make his final appearance for the Gunners.