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Wenger won't take Coventry lightly

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23 Jan 2014 16:16:52

Wenger won't take Coventry lightly

Manager Arsene Wenger feels his current Arsenal side are "in a moment of our lifetime" as the Barclays Premier League leaders look to stay on course in the FA Cup with victory over Coventry on Friday night.

The Gunners take a break from leading the championship race when they host the Sky Bet League 1 outfit in the first of the weekend's televised fourth-round ties.

It has been almost a decade since any of Wenger's squads last tasted trophy success, but the French coach remains ever confident this generation can finally deliver their promise in 2014.

"We have to prepare seriously for this game, because we are on a good run and it will be really not welcome at all not to take this game seriously," Wenger said.

"We are still in a moment of our lifetime, this team, where we want to gain respect and through our attitude is the best way to gain respect."

Wenger maintains Arsenal cannot take anything for granted against the Sky Blues - who were thumped 6-1 at the Emirates Stadium in the Capital One Cup last season - with the 1987 FA Cup winners looking to make progress back towards one day regaining their top-flight status following financial struggles which saw them leave their Ricoh Arena home to play in Northampton.

"Football maybe is the only sport which can make it so unpredictable and that is why it is so interesting as well," said Wenger.

"If you have two or three divisions' difference in basketball or rugby, volleyball or handball, you cannot do it, but in football you can."

Wenger recalled last season's shock fifth-round exit at home to Championship side Blackburn.

He said: "It was the first time in 16 years that we lost against lower league opposition in the FA Cup, so that was a great warning.

"At the moment, this is just our next game and we want to win it."

Arsenal will have an extra day to recover ahead of their next Premier League fixture at Southampton on January 28, so Wenger indicated he would not have to rotate so much of his first team.

Denmark forward Nicklas Bendtner could well come back into the starting XI following an ankle injury, while fit-again Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may feature and Lukasz Fabianski will be in goal.

Midfielder Thomas Rosicky, though, will be rested as he has been training in a protective mask since suffering a broken nose at Aston Villa.

Arsenal are, meanwhile, in the market for some additional attacking cover following the season-ending knee injury to England forward Theo Walcott and continue to be linked with the likes of Schalke's Germany international Julian Draxler.

Wenger, though, stressed he had not yet lined up any bids, with new signings "very unlikely".

However, the Arsenal boss added: "If something exceptional turns up we will do it, but not everyone will strengthen - they buy, but that does not always mean strengthen."

Arsenal are hopeful of extending the contracts of Per Mertesacker, Bacary Sagna and Rosicky, as well as securing Wenger's own future.

Captain Thomas Vermaelen, currently sidelined by a knee problem, is another Wenger would like to retain.

"I have a high respect for his qualities and attitude and I am ready to extend his contract," said Wenger of the Belgium defender, whose first-team chances this season have been limited.

"We want Thomas Vermaelen to be happy and have the number of games a player of his class deserves.

"At the moment we are all on board for something this season that is respectable. At the end of the season I can sit down with Thomas and see what he thinks about it."


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