Arsene Wenger is desperate for Arsenal to make amends for their recent struggles and seal a place in the FA Cup final when they take on Wigan Athletic at Wembley on Saturday. Serious contenders for the Premier League title not so long ago, Arsenal’s stuttering form continued with a 3-0 defeat at Everton last week that leaves them in a fierce battle to earn a top-four place. But Wenger is keen to bring some life back to their season in what is the club’s first FA Cup semifinal in five years.
“The mood was low after Everton because we felt that we failed to turn up with a proper performance,” he said, according to Arsenal’s official website. “The players were questioning themselves of course but we got a strong response in training. Now we want to put it right. The guarantee you want is to put the effort in on Saturday to have a good chance to go to the final. It's a great opportunity, a great challenge for us and we want to take it.”
Arsenal’s preparations for the game have been hit by their already lengthy injury list growing even further. Wenger stated on Thursday that Tomas Rosicky, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs were all rated at 50:50 to be fit for Saturday. Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby were already ruled out, while Mathieu Flamini begins his two-match suspension having picked up his 10th yellow card of the season. Aaron Ramsey is a confirmed starter, while there could even be a first start for loanee Kim Kallstrom.
Wigan’s main absentee is the man who was their hero the last time they visited Wembley. Ben Watson scored a dramatic winner in last season’s FA Cup final, but remains sidelined by a broken leg. Despite being relegated to the Championship after their great day at Wembley, Wigan’s cup form has continued, notably knocking out Manchester City in the quarterfinals. But manager Uwe Rosler, who replaced the successor to Cup-winning manager Roberto Martinez, Owen Coyle, last December, believes the club’s supporters will be anything but complacent about another Wembley appearance.
“The club has been to Wembley quite a lot recently but, in general, for Wigan Athletic to reach a semifinal is special and I’m sure our supporters will realize that it’s a great opportunity to visit the capital and the home of football,” he said, according to Wigan Athletic’s official website.
“I think we will need strong support to carry us through difficult periods in the game. We’re the massive underdog and we’ll face an opposition who will be on top for the majority of the game so I’m sure the players will appreciate the support throughout the game.”
Wigan remain in the payoff places in the Championship, but have won just once in their last five matches.
Where to watch: The FA Cup semifinal will kick off from Wembley Stadium at 12.07 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Sports 2, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.