FA Cup won’t de­cide my fate : Wenger

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

ARSENE Wenger has slammed sug­ges­tions Arse­nal's FA Cup fate will have an im­pact when he de­cides his Gun­ners fu­ture.

Wenger's side face Manch­ester City in the FA Cup semi­fi­nals at Wem­b­ley on Sun­day with the Gun­ners boss yet to re­veal if he will ex­tend his 21-year stay with the north Lon­don club.

With Wenger en­dur­ing con­stant calls for his res­ig­na­tion from fu­ri­ous Arse­nal fans, it has been claimed a limp exit from the FA Cup might con­vince the French­man to quit when his con­tract ex­pires at the end of the sea­son.

The north Lon­don­ers have once again failed to mount a chal­lenge for the Premier League ti­tle and suf­fered an em­bar­rass­ing Cham­pi­ons League last 16 thrash­ing by Bay­ern Mu­nich.

With Wenger's record of qual­i­fy­ing for the Cham­pi­ons League for the last 19 years un­der se­vere threat this sea­son, lift­ing the FA Cup might be the only way to sal­vage a wretched cam­paign.

But, asked on Thurs­day if win­ning the Cup for a sev­enth time would have a bear­ing on his fu­ture, Wenger said: "It doesn't play any part in that.

"The FA Cup is a very im­por­tant game for me be­cause it's the next game and be­cause it's an op­por­tu­nity, as I just told you, to win a tro­phy this sea­son. So of course we are all fully fo­cused on that. My fu­ture is Sun­day.

"What I ex­pect when you go into a semi­fi­nal is to go to the fi­nal. I think some­body told me that I had played 10 semi­fi­nals in the FA Cup, so that means it's a great ex­pe­ri­ence and it's al­ways some­thing spe­cial.

"I re­mem­ber my first one, we just spoke about it, when we played at Villa Park against Wolves. That's the day when I re­alised how big the club is, how much it means to our sup­port­ers.

"It is a spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence and, for us, I think we are fo­cused, highly mo­ti­vated.

"Maybe not at the max­i­mum of our con­fi­dence be­cause we had re­cently some dis­ap­point­ing re­sults, but that is a good op­por­tu­nity to show we are ready for a fight and how much we want to go to the fi­nal.

"Be­cause it's maybe our only op­por­tu­nity to get a tro­phy this sea­son."

Even if they win the Cup, fail­ure to qual­ify for the Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fi­ca­tion would taint any Wem­b­ley cel­e­bra­tions.

But Wenger in­sists Arse­nal, cur­rently seven points adrift of the top four, are not in a po­si­tion where they have to start pri­ori­tis­ing the FA Cup over the league yet.

"You don't think about it like that be­cause we don't have to make a choice," he said.

"We are not in a po­si­tion where you can make a choice, do we choose this or do we choose that? The next game is the semi-fi­nal of the FA Cup, so we have to give ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing to go to the fi­nal.”

Mean­while, Chelsea are favourites to win this week­end’s FA Cup semi­fi­nal de­spite their re­cent stut­ter and Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur’s ir­re­sistible form, Spurs man­ager Mauri­cio Pochet­tino in­sists.

To­mor­row’s clash at Wem­b­ley cre­ates a di­ver­sion from the duo’s Premier League ti­tle race, which has burst to life af­ter Tot­ten­ham sliced Chelsea’s lead to four points with six games re­main­ing.

While An­to­nio Conte’s Chelsea side, who were 13 points clear a few weeks ago, have looked vul­ner­a­ble in de­feats by Crys­tal Palace and Manch­ester United, Tot­ten­ham have built up a head of steam with seven con­sec­u­tive league wins.

“I think if there is one favourite it’s Chelsea be­cause they are top of the ta­ble, be­cause of the ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers and the man­ager that they have,” Pochet­tino, whose Tot­ten­ham side lost the 2015 League Cup fi­nal to Chelsea, told re­porters on Fri­day.

“We are talk­ing about one of the best teams in Europe. Play­ers that in the past five years have won Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tions and World Cups, a man­ager who won the league in Italy. They are more ex­pe­ri­enced than us.

“But we are in a good mo­ment, too, and we are hun­gry to chal­lenge this type of team. We are happy to fight with the best team in Eng­land for the Premier League and (FA) Cup.”

Former Es­panyol and Southamp­ton man­ager Pochet­tino, in his third sea­son in north Lon­don, is yet to win any sil­ver­ware with Tot­ten­ham but if tro­phies were awarded for progress the Ar­gen­tine would be ahead of his ri­vals.

Since the start of last sea­son they have won 141 Premier League points -- 11 more than the sec­ond-best team, Manch­ester City, and 16 more than Chelsea.

A late col­lapse last they fin­ished third de­spite only club to push Le­ices­ter City for the ti­tle, and they are poised to im­prove on that.

“I re­mem­ber three years ago when we signed here I re­mem­ber the first few press con­fer­ences and I was asked how we can re­duce the gap to the top four,” he said. sea­son meant be­ing the

“That was the main prob­lem that Tot­ten­ham had. Now af­ter three years not only have we re­duced the gap to the top four we are fight­ing for the Premier League and to win ti­tles.

“With six games to go we have 71 points. Last sea­son we fin­ished with 70. We have im­proved -that is a re­al­ity. The team is play­ing in a good way, ex­cit­ing foot­ball, scor­ing goals and not con­ced­ing too many chances.

“We have great mo­men­tum and that is the most im­por­tant be­cause that can change very quickly.”

Pochet­tino said he was es­pe­cially proud of his work de­spite the greater spend­ing power of the clubs around them.

“It’s a big thing that peo­ple in­clude Tot­ten­ham in the same level as United, Chelsea, City, Arse­nal and Liver­pool,” he said.

“It means a lot be­cause we are in a very dif­fer­ent project. Today, to beat Tot­ten­ham is a big, big chal­lenge for every­one, which is good news for us.”

Arsene Wenger

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