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FA Cup no fitting farewell for Wenger

Soccer

Arsene Wenger insists winning the FA Cup would be a triumph for Arsenal's late-season resurgence and not the perfect end to his time at the club.

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Wenger again refused to confirm whether he will still be Arsenal’s manager next season and was keen to emphasise this weekend’s (Sunday 2am SA time) Wembley showdown with Chelsea will not affect his future.

Arsenal have won the FA Cup six times under Wenger’s leadership and a record seventh would allow the Frenchman to go out on a high after the disappointment of missing Champions League qualification for the first time in his 20 year spell in charge.

Wenger, however, says success would be a deserved reward for the team, who finished the Premier League season with seven victories from eight matches.

“It will not be my last match because whatever happens I will stay in football,” Wenger said.

“Would it be a nice farewell? No, what I want is to win the next game.

“I love to win and I love to do well for my club. I want to win the cup for my club.

“It’s not about me, it’s about us winning the trophy and giving everything to achieve it.”

Sir Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports News this week the pressure on Wenger was “ridiculous” but the Frenchman admits he is unlikely to match his former rival’s 26 years in charge at Manchester United.

“I don’t think I will match him on that front,” Wenger said.

“Usually the average life expectancy of a manager is 18 months so our total is quite unusual.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal are short of defenders after Gabriel sustained a knee injury against Everton and Wenger confirmed the Brazilian would be out for six to eight weeks.

Laurent Koscielny is suspended and Shkodran Mustafi is struggling with illness, meaning Per Mertesacker may be called upon to make his first start in almost 13 months.

There was more positive news, however, regarding Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is back in training after recovering from a hamstring injury, and Alexis Sanchez, who limped off against Everton but is expected to pull through.

“Alexis needs to go through some tests,” Wenger said.

“We’ll see how well he comes out of that but knowing the player, his character and his commitment to the club, which I don’t question at all, he will make absolutely everything to be fit for Saturday.”

-PA

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