Wenger refutes Arsenal 'cup team' claims

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The Frenchman believes his side have remained competitive across all competitions, despite having slipped out of the Premier League's top four

Arsene Wenger has seen Arsenal fare better in knockout competition than the Premier League of late, but has refuted claims that the Gunners are now a “cup team”.

The long-serving Frenchman has guided his side to four finals in five seasons, with the last of those resulting in a 3-0 defeat to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup.

Another route to silverware remains open in the Europa League, with Arsenal having made it safely through to the quarter-finals.

Success in the cups has been countered by regression in the English top-flight, with the Gunners struggling to secure a top-four finish once again, but Wenger maintains that they remain competitive on all fronts.

Quizzed by Standard Sport on why they have been so successful away from league action, the Arsenal boss said: “Look, we made 75 points last year. We were one point short in the championship and it’s the first time in the history of the Premier League that you don’t qualify for the Champions League with 75 points.

“The year before we finished second in the Premier League. It’s true that this year we struggled but [due] to our away results, not our home results. I wouldn’t like to go too quickly to that kind of conclusion.

“We have done well, as well, in the cups. In the last five years, we were in the cup final four times. That means that we have mental resources to turn up when it’s demanded.

“But it’s difficult. When you lose a cup final in the middle of the season it’s very difficult to recover from it no? There are many stats coming out at the moment, it would be interesting to see how well do teams do for the rest of the season when they play the League Cup final.

“Southampton last year dropped dramatically and it cost [Claude] Puel his job. It happened many times. You had Birmingham when we lost in the final [in 2011].

“It is difficult after that to keep the focus of the players.

“I’m convinced that the team is strong and healthy. We recovered from that. Hopefully, we can focus on something important now.

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“The second thing I wanted to say is it’s difficult to do well in the championship and in the Europa League. There’s a statistic that has come out that shows that in all the championships the team who plays in the Europa League struggles. Everywhere in the big five leagues.”

With another international break approaching, Arsenal will not be in action again until April 1.

When they do welcome Stoke to Emirates Stadium, they will do so looking to close a gap to those inside the Premier League’s top four which currently stands at 12 points.

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