Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger reflected on a season that has already seen the club eliminated from contention for silverware and admitted he should have prioritised differently,
“We should have sacrificed the FA Cup this season,” Wenger told the Arsenal magazine. “It is a competition we love but last year, when we went out early, we reached the final of the Champions League.
“So this year, once we knew we were in the final of the Carling Cup, we should have completely sacrificed it because in the end it caught up with us. We had two replays in the FA Cup, one just before the PSV tie and one right in between it.
“We had already given a lot, playing 17 games in December and January. Also, we had no possibility to rotate the side because we had many injuries and then all the suspensions.
“So I think it was a mistake on my part. When we drew Blackburn at home we didn’t think we would go to a replay.
“When you have 60,000 fans in you own stadium you can never say you will sacrifice the game. But the replay? Perhaps I should have sacrificed it.”
While this is hardly on the scale of Manchester United pulling out of the competition altogether in 2000 to participate in the FIFA World Championship, English fans have generally reserved a special place in their football hearts for the competition. We’d have been interested to see the reaction if Arsenal were knocked out of the FA cup because Wenger deliberately fielded a weakened team.
Although if it meant the club then went on to win silverware in other competitions, we’d guess hindsight would kick in at about 20/20.