FA Cup - 'Much more' still needed from Wenger and Arsenal

Manager Arsene Wenger felt Saturday's dramatic 3-2 extra-time victory over Hull, which won the FA Cup at Wembley to end a nine-year trophy quest, was the most important of all of his Arsenal honours.

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Captain Thomas Vermaelen of Arsenal passes the trophy to Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal (R) after the FA Cup (Getty)


Midfielder Aaron Ramsey slotted home to complete a remarkable turnaround after the Gunners had found themselves trailing 2-0 inside the opening eight minutes.

Wenger had led Arsenal to the Premier League title undefeated in 2003/2004, and also won the Double twice.

However, the 64-year-old Frenchman, who confirmed he expected to sign a new deal with the Gunners shortly, believes that Saturday's result tops the lot considering what his current squad had to deal with coming into the match.

"It was relief and happiness because of course we were under severe pressure to win today," said Wenger.

"Hull started stronger and we were hesitant, then we made a demonstration of how to respond to being 2-0 down - and also how not to start the FA Cup final.

"This team has a special togetherness.

"In the end, it finished well, so it is a big, big moment of happiness.

"We waited for a long time with that, and it is sometimes linked with the suffering we had to wait for."

Wenger added: "It was an important moment in the life of this team, because to lose today would certainly have been a major setback.

"It was more important today than all of the others.

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Arsenal deserve great credit for coming back to beat Hull but the fact is they also found themselves in a position that should have been avoided. Arsenal have been a source of fun for a number of years and this victory at least stops the 'X years without a trophy' jokes, but it does not mean things are all rosy in the garden for the Gunners either. They really stumbled over the line in this Cup run after things opened up for them when Wigan beat Manchester City in the quarter-finals. The success starved Arsenal fans will enjoy this triumph, but one FA Cup is not going to satisfy them – the pressure remains on Wenger.


Wenger is likely to sign a two-year contract with Gunners and then a massive summer in the transfer market follows for Arsenal. It seems we say it ever year, but they desperately need to splash the cash. A top striker and a holding midfielder have been big needs for Arsenal for a number of years and, if they are realistically going to mount a sustained title bid, these positions need to be addressed. The £42.4m they paid for Mesut Ozil shows they can spend big, and they should look to Germany again for their first move in the transfer market where Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic is unhappy with Bayern Munich and set to leave in the summer.


Hugh McIlvanney (Sunday Times): Arsene Wenger knows it will take much more than this, nothing less than realistic contention in the Premier League and/or the Champions League next season to indicate persuasively that his leadership is capable of rediscovering the potency so thrillingly demonstrated in the first half of what is by far the longest-lasting managerial regime now existing at the top level of English football. Perhaps defeat would not have threatened Wenger’s position. When Arsenal’s previous inviting opportunity to end the protracted barren period was squandered by losing the 2011 League Cup final to Birmingham, who were about to be relegated, it had negligible impact on his standing with his employers. Rather, there were further signs that he is regarded at Arsenal with a reverence, a sense of untouchability, never before accorded to any manager working in the upper echelons of the game in England. Those who think that claim is excessive should ask themselves if it is conceivable that Sir Alex Ferguson would have survived nearly a decade without a trophy at Manchester United. The Frenchman has so enriched sport in this country that no neutral should complain about any indulgence granted to him.

Barney Ronay (The Observer): And so: what next? In a way, Arsenal's performance here in a gripping FA Cup final was a kind of tribute act to the past eight years of managed stasis, an extended Viking funeral for the era of almost-but-not-quite that the club's supporters hope is now closer to passing. There was, of course, a happy ending too: the age of the Emirates now has its first trophy. Better still, this comeback victory was sealed by Arsenal's outstanding player this season: Aaron Ramsey, who scored the winning goal, never stopped running even when his touch looked off at times and who embodies the best of late Wengerism, a player the manager courted, signed, stuck by and who has now come to glorious maturity. As ever in the current Arsenal age of glass half-full versus glass half-empty, there is more too. Even in triumph there was evidence here of why Wenger still hasn't committed himself to staying beyond the summer. The chances are, of course, that he will stay, albeit that contract – a sheet of paper so frequently referenced in recent weeks it probably has an agent of its own by now – remains unsigned. And true to form, Arsenal walked backwards towards their first trophy in eight years, creeping to parity from 2-0 down in the second half by being just about not bad enough to lose.


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