There were many Arsenal fans (especially on this site according to some of yesterday’s comments) that fully expected the Gunners to get humiliated by Man City yesterday, but the team responded with a show of mental strength to come back from a 1-0 deficit to earn a place against Chelsea in the FA Cup Final.
Wenger’s new formation seemed to grow on the team as they improved from a shaky, but defensive start, to end the game looking like the team in control. Arsene Wenger was very pleased after the game of course. “I felt that we had a strong response today.” he said. “We had a little bit of a cautious start, hesitant sometimes but we didn’t give chances away and we grew into the game. Slowly, we became better and better and in the second half I felt we were very strong, in extra-time very strong, we always looked solid and dangerous. We played more in the second half and I felt as well it was a big test for us today – it was a mental test because many people questioned ‘Can we turn up in an occasion like that?’ That’s why I am very proud for the players, because they showed they are united and determined.
“I want them to enjoy it, to play together and to play for the club. That is for me the most important. To reach the targets that we set for them together. Football is a team sport and as a manager your biggest joy is when you feel you have a real team performance. That was the case today and that’s why I am happy today.
“You know, I feel the club is in a very strong shape and that we have a very strong overall situation and a very strong team. We have shown that today. After that is for me the most important. One day I will leave anyway, so the most important is that I’m sure that Arsenal will always be a great club that everybody admires.”
This win gave the Arsenal fans something to cheer about for a change after our recent troubles, and there was little evidence of dissent amongst the stands at Wembley. Wenger was very pleased to see them go home with some smiles at last. “Honestly, I feel when you see today and you watch the stands, you see how big this club is. I feel just happy when our fans go home tonight and they are happy. When I don’t win the games I feel sad because I don’t feel that I give what people want. We have gone through a very difficult period and we faced some adversity that made the situation more difficult from inside as well. But we’ve shown a united response, not a divided response, but of course, mentally we were in a fragile position.”
Hopefully this will have dispelled a lot of that fragility, and we now can face Leicester and Tottenham in the next week with some added confidence and start clawing our way back up into the Top Four. Every game is a Cup Final from now on….