Arsene Wenger hailed Arsenal’s “united response” to their recent struggles as they secured their FA Cup Final spot with an impressive 2-1 win over Manchester City at Wembley.
Arsenal rallied against Pep Guardiola’s side, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 victory at Wembley, to ensure that Wenger moved within one more victory over a record seventh FA Cup triumph and ease the immediate pressure on their manager.
It may not bring every supporter back on side but the protests that have stalked Wenger over recent weeks were nowhere to be seen as Arsenal, “cautious and hesitant” as their manager conceded they were in the opening minutes, battled to overturn Sergio Aguero’s second-half opener through Nacho Monreal and an extra-time winner from Alexis Sanchez.
“I feel just happy when our fans go home and are happy,” Wenger said. “When I don’t win the games I feel sad because I don’t feel that I gave people what they want.
“We have gone through a very difficult period and we faced some adversity that made the situation more difficult, from inside as well. We have shown a united response, not a divided response. Mentally we were in a fragile position.”
Speaking after the victory Olivier Giroud said that Arsenal wanted to win the Cup – and with it conquer their rivals Chelsea – for their manager.
“We want to win it for him, because he always supports us and is always behind us,” Giroud said. “He always tries to protect us and then we just have to focus on the pitch.
“This afternoon we wanted to go through the semi-final and I’m very happy with this win. It will give us more confidence.”
However Wenger, who has consistently looked to shield his squad from the brunt of the criticism aimed at Arsenal, insisted his players owed him nothing despite their disappointing recent form.
Wenger said: “I want them to enjoy playing together and to play for the club. That for me is the most important.
“Football is a team sport and as a manager your biggest joy is when you feel you have a real team performance. That was the case today and that’s why I’m happy today.”