As Arsene Wenger said, Arsenal will need a miracle to get back into the Top Four this season after missing out last season as well. But in the Cups we have a completely different story as we have won three FA cups in just four seasons, we got to the League Cup Final this season, and now our current major target this year is the Europa League Final.
But Wenger was not happy when he was asked if the Gunners were getting a reputation as a ‘Cup Team’. The Boss told the Standard: “Look, we made 75 points last year. We were one point short in the championship and it’s the first time in the history of the Premier League that you don’t qualify for the Champions League with 75 points.
“The year before we finished second in the Premier League. It’s true that this year we struggled but [due] to our away results, not our home results. I wouldn’t like to go too quickly to that kind of conclusion.
“We have done well, as well, in the cups. In the last five years we were in the cup final four times. That means that we have mental resources to turn up when it’s demanded.
“But it’s difficult. When you lose a cup final in the middle of the season it’s very difficult to recover from it no? There are many stats coming out at the moment, it would be interesting to see how well do teams do for the rest of the season when they play the League Cup Final.
“Southampton last year dropped dramatically and it cost [Claude] Puel his job. It happened many times. You had Birmingham when we lost in the final [in 2011].
“It is difficult after that to keep the focus of the players.
“I’m convinced that the team is strong and healthy. We recovered from that. Hopefully we can focus on something important now.
“The second thing I wanted to say is it’s difficult to do well in the championship and in the Europa League. There’s a statistic that has come out that shows that in all the championships the team who plays in the Europa League struggles. Everywhere in the big five leagues.”
Now this argument I am definitely going to take issue with! At the beginning of the season Wenger maintained that the Europa League was a low priority, just like the League Cup is in every season. In fact in the Europa, Wenger only played his second string side up until this recent tie against AC Milan, and in the League Cup he only played mostly first team members in the semis and the Final. He even put a reserve side out in our only FA Cup match when we lost to Nottingham Forest!
So there has been hardly any pressure on our first team except for in five Cup games all season, whereas ALL of our main rivals have had to contend with much harder opponents in the Champions League on a regular basis, as well as the FA and League Cups.
I think it’s very ingenuous of the Boss to try and blame the Cup matches for our awful season in the Premier League.
What do you think?