Arsenal are way back in seventh place but they have enough games in hand to still qualify for the Champions League. They host Leicester City on Wednesday night before traveling to Tottenham on Sunday afternoon. With Manchester United still to come to the Emirates, it will not be an easy run-in.
Speaking after Sunday's semi-final, in which Arsenal surprised their critics to beat City after falling a goal behind, Cech told his team-mates to build on the resilience and character they showed at Wembley, and to harness the same qualities over the next few weeks.
“We need to make sure we win every game,” Cech said, “and that the effort, focus and determination will be the same [as on Sunday], especially the confidence.”
Just two weeks ago Arsenal fell to a disappointing 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, one of the lowest points in their recent history. But Cech said that there was a very different mentality on Sunday and even when City went ahead, Arsenal still believed they could win.
“I felt the confidence we started the game with, although we fell behind, you could feel we felt it wasn't a problem,” Cech said. “We had 30 minutes and although in a game like Crystal Palace when we fell behind and it suddenly looks like the team isn’t finding the answers to overcome the deficit, you felt today we had the belief. We need to carry that on.”
The challenge will be to produce the same intensity and focus in every single league game. But Cech, who has experience of winning the biggest trophies, has a clear message. “I think we are going to be under pressure in every game now,” he said. “Because the position we are in in the league now, there’s no other option. We need to keep getting three points in every game to hope we can get the automatic qualification for the Champions League for next season.”
If Arsenal do win all seven remaining games that would leave them on 78 points, which would give them a good chance of finishing within the top four. Otherwise, they are facing the prospect of Europa League football for the first time in nearly 20 years. As much as they are all looking forward to the FA Cup final, Cech especially, they have a big task before then.
“Obviously the FA Cup is at the end of the season so there will be a lot of games before we play the FA Cup,” Cech said. “Our target is to finish as high as possible. We have games in hand, but the situation in the league is a bit complicated so we will only be able to judge at the end of the season. If you don’t quality for the Champions League it will obviously be a big loss and a big disappointment.”
Once all that is over Arsenal have the FA Cup final against Chelsea, Cech’s old team, and he is understandably looking forward to it.
“It is going to be special,” Cech said. “Obviously every FA Cup final is special in itself and it’s against a team I had a huge success with and spent so many wonderful years. Hopefully I will be the one celebrating.”