LONDON // Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is looking forward to rekindling the memory of one of the Gunners’ greatest days in their recent history when they face Hull at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Wenger’s side came from two goals down to beat Hull 3-2 in last season’s FA Cup final as the north London club won their first trophy in nine years.
The veteran French manager is convinced that after strengthening his squad in pre-season with the arrival of Alexis Sanchez, Danny Welbeck, Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers, his team is now better equipped to challenge for more silverware.
Defeat at Chelsea immediately before the international break brought an end to Arsenal’s unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign and left them in eighth position, nine points behind Jose Mourinho’s side who head the table.
But Wenger said: “We won the FA Cup with a difficult run, but we managed to deliver the trophy and it makes us stronger, more confident and I believe we will have a strong season.”
The international break brought more injury problems for Wenger with France defender Laurent Koscielny aggravating an Achilles problem and Mesut Ozil ruled out for around six weeks with knee ligament damage.
Germany international suffered the injury during the Chelsea game but Wenger denied any mismanagement of the playmaker’s condition.
“He told me (about the injury) once it was discovered on the scan. He did not tell me anything during the Chelsea game, I did not know,” Wenger insisted.
“What happened was that at half-time, just before we went out, he had a little pain with his knee but it was not bad.
“He wanted to go on and I told him, ‘If you don’t feel well, tell me and I will take you off straight away’.”
A run of injuries to defensive players prompted Wenger to admit to the club’s annual general meeting on Thursday he regretted not signing an additional defender during the transfer window.
“I believe we have done remarkably well on the transfer market. I agree we could have bought one more player, but we did not find.
“We will try to rectify that, because we are a bit short with the injuries we have (defensively), and overall I think we will rectify that in the transfer market in January.”
Goalkeeper Steve Harper believes Hull have a chance of causing an upset at the Emirates but only if they maintain their defensive discipline.
Harper is deputising for Allan McGregor, who is out for a month with an injured shoulder.
The 39-year-old Harper helped Hull keep only their second league clean sheet of the season in the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace before the international break.
“You have to be defensively tight when you go down to a place like Arsenal and you need to be on top of your game because they will ask serious questions of you,” Harper said.
“We’ll have to go down there and remain compact and be hard to break down and frustrate them as we have shown before that we can upset these sides.
“We beat Liverpool last year and that went a long way to making the lads realise that these top teams can be beaten.
“Barring the first 20 minutes, in the Manchester City game (a 4-2 defeat last month), the lads realised that they could compete.
“For certain periods of the game, we were very competitive and the key thing against top teams is that, when you do have your spell, you have to make it count and score when you are on top, otherwise it can be a tough day at the office.”
Follow our sports coverage on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE