Arsene Wenger says FA Cup final ‘will not be my last match’, but it could be with Arsenal

Arsene Wenger says that Saturday’s FA Cup final is about much more than him and his future, and revolves instead around Arsenal’s drive to beat Premier League champions Chelsea and end a troubled season on a high note.

In this composite image a comparision has been made between Antonio Conte, manager of Chelsea and Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal. Arsenal and Chelsea meet in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2017 in London, England. Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images
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LONDON // Arsene Wenger says that Saturday’s FA Cup final is about much more than him and his future, and revolves instead around Arsenal’s drive to beat Premier League champions Chelsea and end a troubled season on a high note.

The Frenchman has constantly refused to give a definitive answer on whether his current contract, which expires at the end of the season, is to be renewed.

It is the issue that has divided Arsenal supporters for months, with many vociferously calling for him to end his 21-year stint.

Wenger, 67, has also admitted the uncertainty contributed to the club’s first finish outside the top four in two decades.

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Once again he declined to clarify his personal position to journalists yesterday, but did make it clear that if his weekend date at Wembley Stadium did turn out to be a farewell it would be from Arsenal, not the game itself.

“This will not be my last match anyway because I will stay, no matter what happens, in football,” he said.

“Will this be my last match at Arsenal? I don’t know. What I want is to win the next game.

“I love to win and what I want is do well for my club. That’s all I care about, it’s not all about me.”

The FA Cup final could also be a swansong for Alexis Sanchez, whose agent is known to have spoken to German champions Bayern Munich this week.

Indeed, the forward was listed as a Bayern Munich player on a Confederations Cup squad list by his nation, Chile, apparently by mistake.

Wenger said it would be his decision whether Sanchez stayed or not.

“We have nobody at the end of their contract so that will be completely our decision,” he said.

“The club, of course, has a big job to do in summer; we want to keep players like Alexis and end all the speculation about what could happen. He is under contract until 2018.”

Sanchez is an injury doubt for Saturday after limping off in the final Premier League game of the season, Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Everton, with a thigh problem.

“We will see if he can start,” Wenger said. “He needs to go for some tests and we will see how well he comes out of that.

“But knowing the player, his character and his commitment to the club, which I don’t question at all, he will do absolutely everything to be fit on Saturday.”

The Arsenal defence is Wenger’s main concern as Laurent Koscielny is suspended after being sent off against Everton and fellow centre-back Gabriel is out injured.

Gabriel hurt a knee against Everton and Wenger confirmed he faced a spell of rehabilitation. “Gabriel is out for six to eight weeks,” he said.

“We had a scare about his cruciate but it is only medial knee ligaments so the positive is that he avoids surgery.”

Per Mertesacker will fill one of the gaps despite limited game time himself following injury.

The 32-year-old German, who retired from international football a month after winning the 2014 World Cup, will arrive at Wembley with just 37 minutes of action under his belt this season following knee surgery last summer.

“I haven’t played this year but I have been used to doing this for 15 years so I expect myself to be absolutely ready no matter what comes,” the Arsenal captain said. “No matter what I am facing on Saturday I am going to go for it. I owe this to this team and this club.

“I want to make sure I am 100 per cent ready and my mindset is to be ready for 120 minutes plus penalties.”

* Agence France-Presse

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