BRIGHTON, United Kingdom (AFP) – Arsene Wenger believes the weekend’s series of FA Cup shocks represent a “warning” for his Arsenal side.
The Cup-holders avoided joining several other Premier League clubs in making a surprise fourth-round exit with a 3-2 win away to second-
tier Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday that booked their place in the last 16.
Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and the brilliant Tomas Rosicky all scored for Arsenal, ensuring strikes from Brighton’s Chris O’Grady and Sam Baldock to make it 2-1 and then 3-2 respectively did little more than cause a few extra nerves for the visitors.
Arsenal are now one of just a handful of elite Premier League teams in Monday’s fifth-round draw, after Chelsea amazingly lost 4-2 to third-tier Bradford City and Manchester City were eliminated following a 2-0 defeat by Brighton’s divisional rivals Middlesbrough.
Wenger said he “couldn’t believe” those results and had to check them twice, but acknowledged they made his side favourites for the trophy alongside Manchester United, who have still to overcome fourth division Cambridge United in a replay, even if he was reluctant to look too far ahead.
“I think the results were a bit of sub-conscious warning for us,” Wenger said after a tense finish to Sunday’s Cup tie on the south coast. “It woke us up a bit. I thought the results showed our game today would be different. But when you first see the results you have to check them twice and then you think ‘oh’.
“With yesterday’s (Saturday’s) results, you would be a bit cautious. The Cup is the Cup,” added the veteran French manager, who has won the trophy five times during his Arsenal career.
“What you want is to focus on the next round and go through. We have good experience from last season to know that every round is difficult. The most difficult games weren’t the expected ones. We will fight and we want to retain our Cup.