LONDON -- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has insisted he never lost his desire to win trophies as he looks to battle through to his first FA Cup final in nine years at Wembley on Saturday.
Wenger heads into the semifinal against Wigan under considerable pressure, as his side’s latest title challenge has crumbled in disappointing fashion in recent weeks. But his season could be revived with a victory in the FA Cup.
Arsenal are the strong favourites to end their nine-year trophy drought in the FA Cup finals at Wembley on May 17. While Wenger has gone on record to suggest a top-four finish in the Premier League is a bigger target for him than a domestic cup success, he has changed that tune a little ahead of the clash with FA Cup holders Wigan.
“Don’t imagine I sacrifice every day of my life not to win a trophy. Everybody fights for that,” Wenger told reporters at Arsenal’s London Colney training base.
“We are back at Wembley and it is great. The FA Cup is an important competition. You know we will not fight for the championship anymore, so it is the only competition. We are motivated to do well in it.”
Wenger went on to reminisce about his childhood memories of the FA Cup, which he recalls as being the first football matches he got the chance to see live on television.
“It was a dream when I was a kid to watch the FA Cup. It was one of the competitions you could watch in black and white on television,” recalled the Arsenal boss.
“I don’t remember the teams [in the first match he watched], but what struck me at the time was the ball was white and the pitch was perfect, absolutely immaculate. I played in a village where the pitch was a disaster.
“Also, I remember that the players had their hair well combed, and the managers were relaxed at that time, they joked together on the bench.
“The great thing about the FA Cup is everyone can dream of winning it at the start of the season. In the championship [Premier League], only seven clubs can dream of winning it.
“Last year Wigan won the FA Cup, this year you have Sheffield United in the semifinal and that kind of dream, open to everybody, makes the competition special.
“In the championship you can talk and talk, but we know the biggest budget will win it; that open dream [of the FA Cup] is what makes this competition special in football.
“In basketball, if you play against a team from Division Two, there is absolutely no chance unless you give them 30 points. Only our sport can create that excitement because it is uncertain.”
Wenger again refused to discuss the prospect of him signing a new contract at Arsenal, despite persistent questions from reporters.