I may be reading too much into what Arsene Wenger has said about Arsenal and the FA cup but it did strike me as a little bit odd to be honest. The Frenchman suggested that in his time in charge of the Gunners, his focus has been firmly on the FA cup, perhaps to the detriment of the Champions League.
Wenger’s record in the competition, winning it five times since taking charge of the club in 1996, backs up his words, reported by ESPN, to some extent at least. But many Arsenal fans might be left scratching their heads a bit. Wenger has previously said quite openly that the Premier League and Champions League are his priorities while we have often see the manager put out changed teams with a fair few fringe or second string players. So his assertion that the FA cup has been so important to him loses it’s value a touch.
Wenger said, “It is important to us and we have always taken it seriously.
“We did not always manage to win it, but we have won it five times during my period here. Nobody has won it more in the last 18 years, so we have always taken it seriously.
“Sometimes so seriously that we suffered in the Champions League after. Many times a cup game was in front of a Champions League game – for instance this week we play in the cup and then next week in the Champions League.
“Many times we lost some players. I remember against Manchester United when we played against Chelsea in the Champions League three days later we lost some because we took the game seriously.”
As I say I may be wrong but here is what I think the boss is really saying. If we focus too much on the FA cup, with a Champions League double-header with Monaco coming up and with the race for the top four of the Premier League looking tighter than ever, it might cost us. So Arsenal fans should not moan if I field a weaker side and suffer a shock exit at the hands of Middlesborough tomorrow.
Is Wenger getting his excuses in early?