Ahead of Arsenal’s FA Cup quarter-final against Everton, Arsene Wenger has reflected on the ‘magic of the cup’ pinpointing the prospect of a day out at Wembley as a driving factor for the excitement he experiences when the competition reaches the latter rounds.
The Frenchman has won football’s oldest knockout tournament four times since arriving at Highbury in 1996 and while his early success hasn’t been matched in the last nine years, he spoke passionately about the joy of fulfilling boyhood dreams.
“The magic of the cup is when you get close to the end of the competition – the dream becomes more real,” he told Arsenal’s official magazine.
“We all had that dream as kids, we were educated by seeing people lifting cups. That became our dream and to make it come true is one of our targets. That’s what the cup is about – when you are a young boy you dream to lift the cup.
“I’m lucky enough to have won the cup in every country I’ve worked in, and that magic moment when you realise “it’s ours” is something very special. It makes everybody happy. Of course in the early stages of the competition, the focus is not exactly the same, but the closer you get to the final, the more the dream comes alive.”
Comparing the experience of cup football with the week-to-week grind of the league, he continued:
“The league is a slow process, you gradually get there and then you think, ‘We have finally done it’. Whereas the FA Cup is an explosion – an immediate satisfaction. Everyone is on the same wavelength in the same game.
“It’s more sudden, more explosive and that’s a big difference. It’s more of an occasion, a special day out, going to Wembley, and it’s a matter of pride for everyone at the Club. It can also be a special occasion for families too – they can go to a final and support the club they love.”
As we all know the last time Arsenal played in the final back in 2005 we beat United on penalties, amazingly since that memorable afternoon in Cardiff the best we’ve done is a run to the semi-final in 2008/09.
Win against the Toffees on Saturday and we’ll secure a day out at Wembley, just our third at the new incarnation, and put ourselves within touching distance of a trophy for the first time in a while. Surely that’s motivation enough for both players and supporters come the weekend…