Wenger gives Arsenal Cup warning

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Arsene Wenger has warned his Arsenal stars he will not accept another lacklustre effort in the FA Cup when Tottenham visit the Emirates Stadium. Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

London – Arsene Wenger has warned his Arsenal stars he will not accept another lacklustre effort in the FA Cup when Tottenham visit the Emirates Stadium in Saturday's marquee third round clash.

Wenger's side crashed out of the FA Cup after an embarrassing home loss to Championship club Blackburn in the fifth round last season.

That was the latest in a series of Cup flops from the Gunners, but Wenger believes his team is in more confident and determined mood after rising to the top of the Premier League and he expects a strong performance against north London rivals Spurs.

“I had the luck to win four FA Cups, that means I always put the effort in. I am very keen to do it again, it is a long time now,” Wenger said.

“Honestly I still have in my mind the fact that we went out last year at home against Blackburn, that was not good enough for us and we have to make sure we absolutely put the effort in to have the chance to go through.

“We have not won trophies for a long time, it's an opportunity that we want to take.”

It is now nine years since Arsenal beat Manchester United on penalties in the 2005 FA Cup final to claim their last piece of silverware.

And, for all Wenger's optimism, in old foes Spurs they face a side bolstered by the arrival of new manager Tim Sherwood and bubbling with renewed self-belief after a 2-1 success at United on New Year's Day.

Frozen out under former manager Andre Villas-Boas, Emmanuel Adebayor continued his impressive recent form with the opening goal at Old Trafford and team-mate Danny Rose has backed him to shine against his former club Arsenal on Saturday.

“He has scored four goals in his last five games,” Rose said. “His energy levels have been brilliant.”

United's loss to Spurs on Wednesday was their sixth of the Premier League campaign and left them 11 points off the pace, but they have shown impressive form in the cup competitions this season.

David Moyes's side have reached the Champions League last 16 and the semi-finals of the League Cup, and the FA Cup, which United last won in 2004, represents another means of salvaging their season.

Centre-back Jonny Evans says that the players are only slowly coming to terms with the impact of former manager Alex Ferguson's retirement in May.

“As a player I probably didn't realise the magnitude of it until I stepped back and looked at it from the outside,” said Evans ahead of United's meeting with Swansea on Sunday.

“Some of the results have not gone as planned, but to be fair to the manager and coaching staff, they have never been down in the dumps.

“They have always tried to improve us and I definitely think they are improving us in certain aspects of the game where maybe we were lacking.”

The third-round draw yielded few opportunities for genuine upsets but Liverpool, Aston Villa and Sunderland all face third-tier opposition in the shape of, respectively, Oldham Athletic, Sheffield United and Carlisle United.

Chelsea, meanwhile, visit Derby County, who recently won seven games in a row in the second-tier Championship under former England manager Steve McClaren, while Manchester City travel to Blackburn.

The biggest mismatch sees non-league Macclesfield Town host Championship Sheffield Wednesday, who sit 63 places above them in the English league system, while Bolton Wanderers play Blackpool in a repeat of the 1953 final.

Fixtures

Saturday (1500 GMT unless otherwise stated):

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur (1715 GMT), Aston Villa v Sheffield United, Barnsley v Coventry City, Blackburn Rovers v Manchester City (1245 GMT), Bolton Wanderers v Blackpool, Bournemouth v Burton Albion, Brighton and Hove Albion v Reading, Bristol City v Watford, Charlton Athletic v Oxford United, Doncaster Rovers v Stevenage, Everton v Queens Park Rangers, Grimsby Town v Huddersfield Town, Ipswich Town v Preston North End, Kidderminster Harriers v Peterborough United, Macclesfield Town v Sheff Wednesday, Middlesbrough v Hull City, Newcastle United v Cardiff City, Norwich City v Fulham, Rochdale v Leeds United, Southampton v Burnley, Southend United v Millwall, Stoke City v Leicester City, West Bromwich Albion v Crystal Palace, Wigan Athletic v Milton Keynes Dons, Yeovil Town v Leyton Orient

Sunday (1500 GMT unless otherwise stated):

Derby County v Chelsea (1415 GMT), Liverpool v Oldham Athletic, Nottingham Forest v West Ham United (1200 GMT), Port Vale v Plymouth Argyle, Manchester United v Swansea City (1600 GMT), Sunderland v Carlisle United (1400 GMT) – Sapa-AFP


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