Arsene Wenger says Arsenal will have to be on their guard when they start their latest FA Cup defence against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Sunday.
Martin O’Neill’s The Championship side may not look a huge threat on paper – they are currently 14th in the Championship – but after 21 years in England the boss is well versed in the difficulties of overcoming teams from the country’s second tier.
“From my personal experience in the FA Cup, and I think I have a lot, this is maybe the most difficult round,” Wenger told his pre-game press conference on Friday.
“It’s always difficult to start well in the competition and when you play away against a Championship team – it’s always very intense and the Championship teams are ready to face you.
“For them, it’s a big challenge and you have to maintain your concentration coming out of a very loaded and congested period over Christmas. That’s never easy.”
Wenger’s seven FA Cup triumphs make him the most successful manager in the competition’s history. This particular opportunity to win silverware is one that he’s always taken seriously and he believes other clubs across Europe are similarly enthused by knockout formats.
“Yeah, I think contrary to what people think, the FA Cup becomes more and more important in every single country,” he said. “Why? Because it’s difficult to win this kind of trophy.
“You have so many teams who want always to win a trophy. It becomes more and more difficult. I think we won it in style in a period where we were questioned.”
It would almost be rude of us not to present you with an opportunity to watch our most recent triumph. So why not take five minutes out of your day and watch us beat Chelsea again. Go on…it’s Friday.