Pitchside

Three reasons why Arsenal should take the FA Cup seriously

Pitchside

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1. End that sequence

21st May 2005: that was the date when Arsenal planted their hands on some silverware. Perhaps used too regularly as a stick to beat Wenger and his team with, there is no getting away from the fact that they should have been picking up medals and titles in the intervening years.

A large number of extremely high quality player have been at the club in the time between that FA Cup win and now, but have left without (and in some cases because of) being able to add to their silverware hauls.

It will be nine years without a trophy if the Gunners fail to succeed in the FA Cup, barring a miraculous Champions League turnaround or an unexpected comeback to take the league title.

2. Quality of competition

Often a Premier League club can cruise through the first two or even three rounds of the FA Cup if they get lucky with the draw, but that hasn't been the case for Arsenal.

If they are going to reach the final this time, it's going to be because of good performances against good sides: they beat north London rivals Tottenham in the third round, Coventry City in the fourth and fellow Premier League challengers Liverpool in the fifth.

Now Everton stand in their way, another top-end Premier League club.

Should they dispatch of the Toffees and progress to the last four, arguably only Manchester City could be classed as genuine opposition to stop them.

It would be a massive opportunity missed by Wenger and co. if they were to miss out on a shot at Wembley because of a decision not to put out a strong side against Everton — who themselves will be confident under the tutelage of last season's FA Cup winning boss Roberto Martinez.

3. Arsenal are stronger than you may think

As mentioned before, Arsenal are one of the few powerhouses left in the FA Cup. But if we look closer at their Premier League statistics, perhaps this indicates why Arsenal really need to take the old competition more seriously.

In terms of Performance Score, Wenger's men have the best team are leading the way on these shores this season with 8,492. Man City trail behind the Gunners with a score of 8,011.

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This impressive tally is helped by a number of factors.

Firstly, the Gunners have completed the second highest amount of passes in the Premier League, 15, 605 with a pass success of 86% - which is also joint highest in the Premier League, alongside Man City and Swansea.

If we look at shot accuracy, again, Arsenal lead the pack.

The Gunners have a shot accuracy of 55%. This shows not only can the Gunners pass the ball around with composure and purpose, they can get into the key areas and find the target.

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Furthermore, if we look at goals conceded in the Premier League, Arsenal have one of the best records in the division. The North London club have conceded just 28 goals one fewer than Man City and Everton (27). This is a clear demonstration of the defensive strength and confidence the Gunners have.

The Premier League statistics show the strength that Arsenal possess, not only going forward but at the back too. For the first time in quite some time, the Gunners look like a balanced outfit and the draw has given Arsenal an excellent chance of finally ending their trophy drought.

Wenger will face the wrath of fans and journalists if the Gunners drop out in the manner in which they did to Blackburn last season.

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