'Cup win won't mask league failure'

LONDON • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain said winning today's FA Cup final would not banish the hurt of Arsenal missing out on the Champions League.

The England midfielder is in contention for a place against Chelsea at Wembley in what could be manager Arsene Wenger's last game in charge of the Gunners.

Arsenal missed out on Champions League qualification for the first time in two decades and Oxlade-Chamberlain said: "We finished on 75 points and in other years that might have left us in different situations.

"But times change and you have got to move forward with the other top teams. We failed to do that ultimately in the league this year, that's why we missed out on the top four.

"There will obviously be that feeling that we wanted to finish higher up the league and there's no doubting that. We can't hide from that and we have to own up to it."

Oxlade-Chamberlain is about to go into the final year of his contract and refused to answer questions about his future at a time when Liverpool, Everton and both Manchester United and Manchester City are all said to be interested.

It has been reported that he is unhappy with the amount of first-team minutes he has been given by Wenger this season and the player did little to correct such claims at a press conference at Arsenal's training ground yesterday.

"I'm not here to talk about my future at all, I'm here to talk about the FA Cup final so I will leave that there," he said.

The 23-year-old has recovered from a hamstring issue in time to be included in the Cup final squad.

He missed Arsenal's 2014 final victory over Hull City because of injury and fitness problems.

And in 2015, he suffered hamstring and groin injuries as Arsenal approached another final - this time beating Aston Villa.

Wenger's switch to a three-at-the-back formation means Oxlade-Chamberlain could miss out again to Hector Bellerin for the right wing-back berth as the Spain international is arguably more athletic and certainly more defensive minded.

"That's what it's like when you are at a top club," said Oxlade-Chamberlain.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2017, with the headline ''Cup win won't mask league failure''. Print Edition | Subscribe