Wenger: Semi win was crucial

14 April 2014 09:01

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is convinced his side's dramatic FA Cup semi-final penalty shoot-out win over Wigan can prove the turning point of their season.

The Gunners will host West Ham on Tuesday night looking to move themselves back above Everton and into the top four of the Barclays Premier League on the back of a nerve-shredding encounter at Wembley.

Arsenal were just seven minutes away from what would have been another catastrophic failure to deliver when trailing 1-0 to Jordi Gomez's second-half penalty, before Per Mertesacker redeemed himself for his earlier costly foul to head home an equaliser.

The woodwork denied Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a winner in extra-time, and so the outcome was decided on the lottery of spot-kicks, when for once this season the Gunners' luck held as stand-in goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski's two early saves proved pivotal in a 4-2 victory.

Wenger knows full well the negative headlines and broken cannon motifs which would have been emblazoned across the sports pages had things once again gone against his side.

"There was a lot at stake for us," he said.

"You know how it is today in football - had we gone out of course we would have been tremendously questioned and I knew it was a turning point of our season.

"To go out on Saturday would have been very difficult, but we have shown resilience and nerves, and that is an important quality at the top level."

Wenger is now one small step closer to finally seeing his side deliver silverware after what has been a near barren decade of unfulfilled potential.

"It means a lot for the club, and I want to win. I am not standing on the touchline and just expecting a result, I am fighting for the results," said the 64-year-old, who has yet to sign the offer of a new contract extension.

"I want to win every single game, when you go to the FA Cup final, you want to win it."

Arsenal lost full-back Nacho Monreal to injury during the second half, while Oxlade-Chamberlain had only just passed a fitness test on a groin problem and midfielder Tomas Rosicky did not feature at all because of a thigh problem.

Wenger said: "Of course it is a concern as to how fresh we will be on Tuesday night, but to win, we have to recover."

Midfielder Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal have the necessary character to go on and claim a top-four finish.

"It is about confidence and this win builds a bit of enthusiasm," the Spaniard said.

"It gives us something to look forward to at the end of the season.

"But on Tuesday there is another massive game coming up.

"We will have to see what we have available because we lost a few players as well.

"Let's see what we have got, prepare for the game the best way we can because West Ham will be tough opponents again."

Arteta added: "It (fourth) is still there for us. That would be a big step forward up from last season because we haven't achieved to do it.

"There's still a long way to go, there are four weeks until the end of the season. I believe we can do it, but we need to win all our remaining games because if we don't then I don't think we will do it."

Source: PA