Having given his players quite the dressing down at the training ground on Thursday, Arsene Wenger is looking for his squad to react to the defeat in Milan by beating Sunderland in the FA Cup today.
The famous old trophy now represents Arsenal’s only chance of silverware this season and today’s game takes on even greater signficance in the wake of the midweek mauling.
Speaking to the official site ahead of the game, having apparently cancelled a pre-Sunderland press conference earlier in the week (pre-Milan it must be pointed out), Wenger said, “It is more important now. It was always important but, because we had a big disappointment in the last game, it becomes more important.
“We are in fourth position and we have an opportunity to qualify for the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. It is important that we are up for it and do not feel sorry for ourselves because of that [one] performance.
“It can still be a positive week and we will see how we deal with the Milan game in the second leg later. What is important now, first of all, is not only the FA Cup but as well the response and the mental attitude of our team. They are at stake as well. That is something that is very important for us.”
The manager also admitted that while there’d be a measure of rotation, due to some players who have played a lot in recent weeks, he’d be putting out as strong a team as possible, to try and win the game today and avoid either defeat or a tiring midweek replay ahead of the North London derby next Saturday.
“I will refresh a bit because some players have played many games recently. But we will be full-strength.
“Of course we will try to win the game, as we always do. If we have to go through a replay we will do it but ideally we would like to win the game in the first instance.”
Wednesday was hugely disappointing but we know this team is capable of better. Let’s hope they show it today to add a shine to what has been a pretty miserable week.