Saturday, 26 January 2013

Why Arsenal's Wojciech Szczesny is desperate for FA Cup glory - The Guardian

Wojciech Szczesny hopes an FA Cup run will be the springboard for Arsenal to relaunch their season. Having come through a tight third-round tie against Swansea, which was only decided in the final moments of a replay, Szczesny outlined how seriously his team are taking their trip to Brighton & Hove Albion.

"We want to win a trophy this year," he said. "The fans have been crying for a trophy and we understand that. We recognise the FA Cup is the biggest opportunity for that now. We are definitely going to give it a go. Brighton won't be easy but a good run can change the atmosphere in the dressing room. If you do well in one competition if gives you a lot of confidence."

The goalkeeper is hopeful that Arsenal will have learned enough from the recent humiliation doled out by a lower division side to ensure they are fully focused against a Championship team that have already taken one Premier League scalp.

Losing to Bradford City in the Capital One Cup last month was particularly alarming for Szczesny. "We felt embarrassed. We went with a full squad," he said. "Because Bradford was a League Two side it was more of a shock. But we were shocked not just by the fact we lost but by their actual qualities. They were really good. Right after that we had a good run in the Premier League so it didn't affect us so much and it was easier to get over."

The experience of wanting a trophy so desperately and then faltering is still fresh in Szczesny's memory. Recalling the way Arsenal disintegrated after they lost the 2011 Carling Cup final to Birmingham, he takes heart from the fact Arsenal are still standing after the Bradford debacle.

"In the Carling Cup two years ago we got to the final and felt we could win a trophy. It lifted the whole team. We were still in four competitions – we'd just beaten Barcelona at home in the Champions League, were around the top of the table, still in the FA Cup. I've never seen a team at the top level where your season collapses at one very moment. It was quite painful.

"We have been going through some tough times. We do realise that. During training we are at our very best and make sure we prepare for games as well as we can. Sometimes it doesn't work for you but you have to keep trying. I believe this team is good enough to compete for major trophies. Just because it has not worked out in the past couple of seasons doesn't mean it won't happen in the near future."

Arsène Wenger believes his side must place as much focus on the FA Cup and trying to win a trophy as their league campaign, despite falling behind in the race for a Champions League place. The Arsenal manager said: "Tomorrow has a big importance to me because it is our next game and we are looking for consistency because we know that will be the key for us to be successful until the end of the season, It is a possibility of course for a trophy and we do not want to neglect that. Let's be a bit realistic and pragmatic and go game to game, but I feel there is a potential in our team."

Wenger also ruled out making any "miracle" signings during the January window. "You have to stop thinking you can sort all of the problems out by just buying players. That is not the case in our game. I am not worried too much about the message I give out [by not signing anyone], I am worried about what we do on the football pitch. The image and how it looks has never been my worry.

"I live in the real world and the only question I wonder is not how we look to the outside, but it is how good we are when we are on the football pitch, can we pass the ball together? Therefore it is not to buy just because we look like we want to buy. We buy a player if we think he is good enough to play for us."

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