Arsene on reaching another FA Cup Final
Arsene on reaching another FA Cup Final

Arsene Wenger reflected on the Gunners reaching the FA Cup Final for the second successive year, following their 2-1 extra-time semi-final victory over Reading at Wembley yesterday.

“It’s fantastic,” Wenger told Arsenal Player. “We have reached another final.

“We now want to put every effort in to win it, but we’re happy to be there and it’s another opportunity to share that with our fans and we want to keep the trophy and do everything we can do to it.

“It was a test of nerves because it was tense, it was difficult. We suffered a lot on the commitment front from the commitment of Reading and we needed a piece of luck.

“Overall we had a lot of possession but they were very organised and we struggled to find our goals.

“We didn’t panic when we went back to 1-1. We were maybe lucky when Pogrebnyak went through at 1-1, but Koscielny had an outstanding game and saved us from that opportunity.”

Wenger was pleased to see Mathieu Debuchy last the duration on his return to the team, but says it is too early to give a prognosis on Per Mertesacker’s ankle injury.

“He [Debuchy] came through, yes, but he had cramps after the normal game and in extra-time he just managed to do it because he’s mentally very resilient,” Wenger said. “Per got injured because he had an ankle problem. I don’t know how bad it is now.”

In response to questions, here is how Arsene responded.

on the victory…
It was a difficult game against a very resilient, well-organised, physically very strong side. They were a committed Reading team who were comparable to what we faced last year against Wigan Athletic. We have improved a bit because we needed the penalties last year but it meant we got through. We had a lot of possession – I think we had 23 shots on goal and 72 per cent possession – but it was still difficult to find space because they defended very well. I was surprised how strong they were in the challenges. In the second half they became even stronger in the challenges and we suffered a little bit then, and lost some balls that we’re not used to losing. In the end we were a bit lucky because their goalkeeper made the mistake and I can understand that. He kept them in the game as well for long periods.

on Reading’s goal…
I don’t think we switched off but I felt that we didn’t come out after half-time with the same intensity that we had in the first half. In the first half we controlled the game well and you felt the goal would come. In the second half we suddenly started to suffer. We paid for that.

on whether Wojciech Szczesny could have saved Garath McCleary’s goal…
I have to watch it again. I thought it wasn’t in at first because it took some time for the referee to give the goal so I thought we escaped, but unfortunately not. Maybe on slow motion you could see that Wojciech goes back a little bit to save the ball with his feet and then when the ball bounces, the ball was certainly over the line. We have to analyse that but I think the cross before the goal shouldn’t have come in as well and then the scorer was free. There’s a combination of mistakes but Reading really wanted it and were ready to die on the pitch to go to the final. You have to congratulate them for the effort they put in today.

on his relief that there are no more Championship sides left…
There are so many top-level players in the Premier League that many good players go down to the Championship. If you look at the number of players who play in the Championship, many of them have played in the Premier League.

on setting a record for FA Cup wins…
The records show that we are consistent and that is most difficult. I believe that we now need to focus on our next game. We come back here in the final, we have time to prepare and overall the final is a 50/50. If we can beat that record we will be very happy. The final is 50/50 so let’s hope we have all our players available to come back in a good shape.

on Per Mertesacker
He has an ankle problem. He is limping badly so that doesn’t look too good.

on whether Arsenal wash the goalkeeper’s shirt before he wears it…
No. I am not aware of that tradition. I am quite mature and experienced but I wasn’t watching football in 1927. I didn’t know that history so I have learnt something today.

on what was missing from Arsenal’s performance…
What was missing was a bit of speed in the combinations in the final third and maybe sharpness. The spirit and the concentration was there. We lacked a bit of sharpness to create more clear-cut chances maybe.

on Alexis Sanchez
He has made a fantastic contribution this season. He looked to struggle a little bit to get into the game but he has that stubborn resilience and that individual potential that allows him to always create something special. He gave that again today.