Ar­se­nal fo­cus on top-four fight

Daily Trust - - SPORT -

Ar­se­nal are one win away from end­ing a nine-year wait for sil­ver­ware but must put any thought of FA Cup glory to one side as they re­sume their stut­ter­ing charge for a Cham­pi­ons League place when they host West Ham United to­day.

Satur­day’s 4-2 penalty shootout vic­tory over hold­ers Wi­gan Ath­letic fol­low­ing a 1-1 draw af­ter ex­tra time earned the Gun­ners a date with fel­low Pre­mier League side Hull City on May 17 and a chance to win their first tro­phy since their FA Cup tri­umph in 2005.

While lift­ing a tro­phy at Wem­b­ley would un­doubt­edly of­fer the club a wel­come boost at a time their abil­ity to hold their nerve when the go­ing gets tough has come into ques­tion, a top four fin­ish and a 17th con­sec­u­tive ap­pear­ance in Europe’s elite club com­pe­ti­tion is ar­guably more im­por­tant for the fi­nan­cial re­wards it brings.

Fol­low­ing an abysmal 3-0 de­feat by Ever­ton eight days ago, Ar­se­nal lost their hold on fourth place when the Mersey­side club beat Sun­der­land 1-0 on Satur­day.

They are now on 64 points, two be­hind Ever­ton with five matches re­main­ing, and man­ager Arsene Wenger said Satur­day’s Cup win could help put them in the right men­tal state for the chal­lenge ahead.

“It was a re­lief, ev­ery­body was happy yes­ter­day, just for hav­ing qual­i­fied for the fi­nal,” the French­man told re­porters on Mon­day.

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