Arsenal managed to scrape through to the next round of the FA Cup against Brighton yesterday, while Chelsea, Man City, Tottenham and Southampton were all eliminated the day before, and both Man United and Liverpool are left to fight out replays. This means that there are fewer big dangers to Arsenal retaining the trophy in May, but Arsene Wenger refuses to tempt fate by saying we are now favourites to win it.
Le Prof said after the game: “With yesterday’s results you would be a bit cautious. The cup is the cup – what you want is to focus on the next round to go through. We have a good experience from last season to know that every round is difficult. The most difficult games were not especially the expected ones last season, so let’s wait for the draw. Of course we’ll fight and we want to retain our Cup but there’s too long to go to say that Arsenal are favourites.”
“I think the results yesterday was a bit of a subconscious warning for us. It wakes you up a bit and you think, ‘okay it’s a Championship team’ but you know that the players in lower-level teams are prepared now – they come out of the academies, do not make it in the Premier League but they are not far from it. They can maintain the pace for 90 minutes and in these kinds of ties they never give up. Even if you look in League One, you look at the games and the teams play good football. If you’re not ready, you can lose.”
As we saw yesterday, even Arsenal were unconvincing against lowly Brighton, and Wenger said that he expected a tough challenge but we won quite comfortably (in his eyes!). “I believe our performance was good and there was room to score more goals with the chances we created. Overall what you want first is the quality of the performance and to go through. They had two shots on target. When you play away from home and the other team had two shots on target – overall I think we produced the performance I expected.”
Well, we got through and most other top teams didn’t, so obviously we MUST be one of the favourites to win the competition. In fact I’ve just checked the bookies, and they make us best-priced 11/4 favourites, with Man United on 10/3 and Liverpool at 11/2. West Ham at 8/1 are the only other team under 20/1.
So are we worthy favourites or not?