There is no doubt that the FA cup has been good to Arsenal over the years, but perhaps it has been even more so to our current manager, so in this modern age of football when a lot of the big clubs have been accused of showing the oldest cup competition in the world a lack of respect, Arsene Wenger is determined not to follow suit.
In the preview ahead of our third round clash with Preston North End today, reported on the Arsenal website, the Frenchman did admit that it was tempting to take it easy and let the whole squad have a rest after a typically congested festive fixture schedule. But he feels that this would not be right even though Arsenal have our usual heavy list of walking wounded.
The fact that Wenger shares the record of most successful FA cup manager ever with another Arsenal boss George Ramsay gives him a good reason to love the famous old trophy, as does the fact that no club has won it more than the Gunners and that our recent back to back triumphs at Wembley ended the long wait for silverware that was becoming a massive monkey on his back.
He said, “I just believe that the cup is more intense, more concentrated, more focused on the day than any other competition.
“It’s always that day or never and I love that. I’ve won the cup in every country I’ve worked in and, for me, it’s something special. It’s always a special opportunity.
“You always remember a Wembley final, an FA Cup final, and you always have to adapt very quickly to a problem which you may not always know. You do not always play against teams you know well, so your adaptation level and your concentration level is tested.
“We have to prepare well. I believe it’s a special period which always comes after a congested Christmas period and, naturally, you want to switch off a little bit to have a breather.
“But it’s very important that you make a conscious effort to focus, because every time it’s a tricky game. Let’s hope we get it right again.
“Preston v Arsenal is a classic cup tie scenario. It’s maybe what makes football interesting, because it’s the only sport where the difference of divisions does not play a part on the day. Football is more unpredictable than any other sport and that’s why it creates such an interest.
“I think when you do not win a trophy for a while, you have things questioned. I believe that [winning the cup] gave us some better ground to focus again on what we want to achieve and to build our team.
“It gave the team the feeling that they can win trophies. People always want more – and rightly so.”
So even though Wenger has chosen not to take our star striker Alexis Sanchez in order to give him a well earned rest, it sounds like he is going to field a strong side at Preston to make sure that our love affair with the FA cup continues at least a little while longer.