London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger revealed he hasn’t ruled out extending his Arsenal reign after his side eased the pressure on the troubled boss with a 5-0 FA Cup quarter-final win over minnows Lincoln.
Wenger has faced calls for his resignation from angry Arsenal fans this week and there were more protests against the beleaguered Frenchman before Saturday’s clash at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal’s comfortable progress to next month’s Wembley semi-finals kept the critics off Wenger’s back, days after they gave him a torrid time following Tuesday’s Champions League humiliation against Bayern Munich.
The Gunners boss, who has yet to confirm if he will extend his contract when it runs out at the end of this season, claimed it was his preference to remain in charge of the Premier League club, but he declined to say how much longer that would be for.
“Let’s not talk about me too much because that has happened a lot recently. I have shown in my life that I try to serve this club with complete commitment and I will do that as long as I am here,” Wenger said.
“How long? I don’t know at the moment. I have shown a lot of loyalty and my preference is here.
“I focus on my job. I always do that. I let other people judge my performances.
“People talk and talk and talk, it doesn’t mean they talk truth. We have to deal with that and perform on the football pitch. We let people talk and show them what we are about.
“When I have a problem I try to just sort it out. I am competitive and always focused on solving the problems I face. Sometimes the size of the problem is bigger, but there are always problems.”
Wenger admitted that selecting a first choice line-up for Saturday’s game gave his players back their belief after the Champions League trauma.
“We were a bit nervous today because confidence drops when you don’t have a result. The team was unjustly criticised after our last game against Bayern,” said the Frenchman.
“I didn’t want to gamble today. I knew it was very important to win and I wanted to give the team the chance to get their confidence back by winning the next game. That’s why I retained 90% of the players. I am happy that we won the game but I know that what is in front of us is more important.”
While Arsenal now look forward to a Wembley FA Cup semi-final and striving to secure a Champions League berth for the 18th successive season, Lincoln’s own tilt at glory did not evaporate with the defeat.
Five points clear of their rivals at the top of the National League and seeking a return to the league after six seasons in the non-league wilderness, they face the FA Trophy semi-final first leg on Tuesday night in the more austere surroundings of York City’s Bootham Crescent ground.
For impressive young Lincoln manager Danny Cowley, the lessons learned at Arsenal will be invaluable.
“We have to take a lot from our first half performance. We restricted Arsenal to limited chances in that first 45 minutes and had a good one of our own. Unfortunately in the second half you saw what world class players can do when they are confident,” he said.
“It felt like Arsene Wenger brought 15 players on to the pitch in the second half and also that big clock definitely stopped at some stages in the second half because that was one hell of a long 45 minutes for us.”
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