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Arsène Wenger trumpets Arsenal’s consistency before Hull FA Cup reunion

 Arsène Wenger said: ‘When you look at our consistency, we are the only one club who, for such a long time, has always been at the top.’ Photograph: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty ImagesArsène Wenger said: ‘When you look at our consistency, we are the only one club who, for such a long time, has always been at the top.’ Photograph: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsène Wenger has urged supporters not to underestimate what he has achieved at Arsenal, as he resumed the pursuit of a third consecutive FA Cup and with his club’s consistency given sharper focus by the toils of Manchester United.

With the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie against Barcelona to come on Tuesday, after Sunday’s crucial victory over Leicester City in the Premier League, Wenger has been preparing his players for Saturday’s fifth-round tie at home to Hull City.

It will be the third meeting in the competition with Steve Bruce’s team in as many seasons, after the dramatic 3-2 win over them in the 2014 final and the more straightforward 2-0 passage in the third round at Emirates Stadium last season.

The Wembley showpiece with Hull will always stir the emotions inside Wenger and he suggested that he might have quit Arsenal had they lost rather than fought back from 2-0 down to win in extra-time. The Frenchman has not won the Premier League title since 2004 but the 2-1 victory over Claudio Ranieri’s side means his team have a good chance to do so this season and, moreover, they have routinely competed in the top four.

Over Wenger’s 19 and a half years at Arsenal, only United have stayed the course as regular contenders but even they have slipped since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, with a seventh-placed finish under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal currently struggling to lift them above fifth.

“When you look at our consistency, we are the only one club who, for such a long time, has always been at the top,” Wenger said. “It looks easy as long as it happens but maybe you will see one day that it is not as easy as it looks to keep that consistency going over the years. It’s very difficult. It demands very hard commitment and work.”

Wenger was asked whether United’s woes, which deepened after Thursday night’s insipid 2-1 Europa League defeat at FC Midtjylland, had placed a stronger emphasis on Arsenal’s longevity.

“It’s difficult for me to speak about other clubs,” he replied. “Consistency, for me, is the most difficult thing to achieve for a club. Once it is there, everybody considers it as normal. It is taken for granted.”

Wenger has 17 months to run on his Arsenal contract and he always honours them. There is a school of thought that fans will miss him only when he has gone. That moment almost came after the FA Cup final against Hull. After nine years without a trophy, Wenger was under immense pressure to win and the backdrop to the game was the fact that he had not renewed his contract, which was set to expire that summer.

“If we had lost it, I don’t know,” Wenger said, with regard to whether he would have signed the new deal that was on offer. “Honestly, I don’t know. It would have been a problem had we not won, because it would have been a massive disappointment for everybody. But we won.

“In the modern job, you have always to explain about what you do not achieve. What you achieve is always known but you have always to explain why you do not win this, why did you not win that. Of course, it would have been a problem.”


Victory, though, was a turning point. Wenger signed his new contract, albeit 13 days after the final, when it was impossible not to detect a bout of soul-searching, and the team have since looked more secure.

“It was so important because we had not won trophies and people wanted trophies,” Wenger said. “If you go to a final against Manchester United, people think you can win or lose. If you go to a final against Hull, everybody expects you absolutely to win and the disappointment would have been bigger.

“I never forget the decisive moments in the game, like Gibbs’s header off the line at 2-0 down and Cazorla’s free-kick for 2-1. When he took that free-kick, I thought maybe it was a bit too far for him but he scored. At 2-0, it was close to 3-0 and we were nervous. The pressure that was on us created a nervy, insecure start and Hull had nothing to lose.

“I don’t know [if it would have been difficult to carry on]. I’m committed to this club and I’ve shown that. One day, I will show you all the proposals that I denied to stay here. On my side, it was always very clear. I am committed to do well. If I don’t do well enough, the club, I hope, will one day tell me.” – theguardian –

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