After weeks of discord and anger at Arsenal, in which the fans turned on the players and on Wenger himself, they were all united behind him at Wembley. Arsenal now find themselves in the FA Cup final against Chelsea, something that few thought possible given their recent struggles.
Wenger would surely have felt a sense of personal vindication but he said that it was the support of the crowd that pleased him the most today. “When you see the stands and see how big this club is, I just feel happy when the fans go home tonight,” Wenger said. “When fans go home happy I feel happy. When we don’t win games I feel sad, because I don’t feel I give what people want.”
For the Arsenal fans to be so supportive on Sunday suggests that there is a more harmonious future possible for Arsenal even if many fans would rather Wenger was replaced, rather than retained, this summer. “We have gone through a very difficult period,” Wenger said. “We faced some adversity that made the situation more difficult from inside as well. We showed a united response not a divided response. Mentally, we were in a fragile position.”
What pleased Wenger the most about his team’s performance was that they passed the “mental test”. Sergio Aguero gave City the lead early in the second half but Arsenal equalised through Nacho Monreal before Alexis Sanchez won the game in extra-time. Few would have expected that when City went 1-0 up.
“We had a strong response today,” Wenger said. “We grew into the game and slowly became better and better. In the second half, I felt we were very strong. In extra-time we were very strong. It was a big test for us today, a mental test. Many people questioned that, whether can we turn up on an occasion like that. I am very proud for the players. They showed united, determined and playful response.”
Aaron Ramsey said that the Arsenal players produced their performance for Wenger today and there is a sense that they have let him down with some of their recent performances. But Wenger said he took more pleasure in their success than in their spoken support.
“I want them to enjoy playing together, playing for the club and to reach the targets that we set for them together,” He said. “Football is a team sport and as manager your biggest joy is when you feel you have a real team performance and that was the case today. That’s why I’m happy.”