Football: Wenger shocked by crocked Gunners

French striker Olivier Giroud scores his and Arsenal's second goal to send the North London side through to the quarter-finals. Arsenal, who will next face Watford, are bidding to win the FA Cup for the third season in a row.
French striker Olivier Giroud scores his and Arsenal's second goal to send the North London side through to the quarter-finals. Arsenal, who will next face Watford, are bidding to win the FA Cup for the third season in a row.PHOTO: REUTERS

Manager gets flak even after they rout Hull in Cup replay

LONDON • Arsene Wenger will take stock of Arsenal's mounting injury problems after the FA Cup holders' progress to the quarter-finals came at a cost.

Aaron Ramsey, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista were all substituted during the comfortable 4-0 victory at Championship side Hull City that extended the Gunners' three-year unbeaten record in the competition.

Retaining the FA Cup for a third season looks to be Arsenal's best hope of silverware in a season where Wenger has again come under attack for his side's failings in their efforts to win the Premier League for the first time in 12 years.

They trail surprise leaders Leicester City by eight points. They also face elimination from the Champions League going into Tuesday's last-16 return leg against Barcelona, whom they trail 0-2 from the first meeting at the Emirates Stadium last month.

Arsenal host Premier League rivals Watford on Sunday to contest a place in the last four of the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium in April. But the Frenchman admits he first faces a head count after the latest unwanted additions to an injury list.

Prior to their trip to the KC Stadium, the Gunners were already missing Petr Cech, Laurent Koscielny (calf), Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Tomas Rosicky (thigh), and Jack Wilshere (ankle).

SEASON NOT OVER

Judge this season after the season is finished. I'm amazed people tell me how this season has been before it is over. We have not given up anywhere. I believe this club have been in a much worse position.

ARSENE WENGER, on the travelling Arsenal support calling for him to go.

"The injuries came as a shock. Mertesacker is just a cut on his eye and Gabriel is a thigh problem which should hopefully be fine," said Wenger. "Ramsey is a thigh problem and looks to be the most serious of the injuries tonight."

French forward Olivier Giroud celebrated becoming a father for the second time by scoring twice to end an 11-match goal drought.

England international Theo Walcott added two late goals as the Gunners avoided a sixth game without a victory, which would have been their worst run for 18 years.

One banner unfurled among the 2,500 travelling Arsenal supporters read, "Thanks for the memories Arsene but it's time to go".

"It's not disappointing for me. I do my job, look at the history, I have nothing to be scared of," Wenger said of the fans' protest. He has won six FA Cups, the most alongside former Aston Villa boss George Ramsay.

"Do you know someone who has won it (the FA Cup) more than me?

"Judge this season after the season is finished. I'm amazed people tell me how this season has been before it is over. We have not given up anywhere. I believe this club have been in a much worse position."

For counterpart Steve Bruce, the result was a reminder of the quality of opposition they hope to come up against on a regular basis in the Premier League. Hull are well-placed to seal a third promotion in eight years.

"It's a harsh lesson and we've not helped ourselves by making mistakes, too," he said after his side conceded a first home goal in 652 minutes.

"It's a gentle reminder of how good the Premier League can be because they were clinical tonight."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2016, with the headline 'Wenger 'shocked' by crocked Gunners'. Print Edition | Subscribe