THE ARSENAL PLAYERS cannot wait to face Liverpool in the FA Cup on Sunday and get an immediate chance to avenge their 5-1 mauling at Anfield last week, manager Arsene Wenger said today.
Arsenal were battered as Liverpool scored four goals inside the opening 20 minutes but Wenger said the fifth-round match gives them the perfect opportunity to bounce back.
“We have got it out of our system, our main frailty at Liverpool was that we conceded goal after goal in 20 minutes,” Wenger told reporters. “On Wednesday night (against Manchester United) we came back to our usual defensive stability.
“Liverpool is the first team that we want to play. When you can put things right what you want is an opportunity to do that. We have that opportunity.”
Wenger conceded Saturday’s defeat was a painful one.
“Of course it hurt, these guys are winners. When they lose like that, believe me they were hurting. But we will go for every competition that we can and the FA Cup is one of them.”
Arsenal’s last trophy was the FA Cup in 2005 and they have a long history of rivalry with Liverpool in the competition, playing them in the final three times with wins in 1950 and 1971 and a defeat in 2001.
As well as seeking success in the FA Cup, Wenger’s focus is still fixed firmly on the Premier League title. With 12 matches to play Chelsea lead the standings by a point from Arsenal, who are a point ahead of third-placed Manchester City, although City have a game in hand.
Arsenal gave a strangely muted performance in the 0-0 draw with Manchester United in the Premier League on Wednesday and have only won one of their last four league games.
“If you say you are not in the race you cannot lose it,” Wenger said. “But I say yes, we are in it. Yes we will have a go for it and if we lose I will take responsibility for it.
“The title race is very open, only Chelsea can lose it now because they are in front.”
Wenger is likely to rotate his squad for Sunday’s match and will have midfielder Mathieu Flamini back after serving a three-match suspension. Santi Cazorla is ill and will miss the game.
(Reporting by Mike Collett, editing by Ed Osmond)