Arsenal vice-captain Per Mertesacker has issued a warning to his teammates ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Reading at Wembley as the Gunners look to retain their trophy, the German told the club’s official website.
Facing Championship opposition for the second time in consecutive FA Cup semi-finals after scraping past Wigan last year, Mertesacker is expecting another tough test against Reading.
Should Arsene Wenger’s men go onto retain the trophy, they will have won it for a record 12th time, making Wenger the most decorated manager in the oldest cup competition.
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“We felt [pressure] last season a lot,” Mertesacker told Arsenal Player.
“No one expected us to lose, for Wigan to go through and that will be the case again.
“We are more prepared but you are never perfectly prepared. There will be different situations and the team will have to grow in the match again, we will have to face the expectations and pressure.”
Arsenal can take some encouragement in how they performed against lower league opposition in this season’s FA Cup as they approached ties against Brighton and Middlesbrough with a professional attitude. Both sides were overcome in confident fashion and a similar performance will see the Gunners at another Wembley final come May.