Owen: Arsenal actually overchieving

Arsene Wenger is coming under increasing pressure because of the north Londoners’ nine-year trophy drought, but the ex-England ace says the club are “punching above their weight”

By Liam Twomey

Michael Owen has dismissed the notion that Arsenal are underachieving, claiming that the Gunners are exactly where they should be ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final showdown with Wigan at Wembley.

The Gunners are heavy favourites to overcome the Latics and advance to the tournament decider, where they would face either Hull City or Sheffield United. Arsene Wenger has other worries in the Premier League, however, with Everton set to overtake his side in the race for the top four if they win their game in hand away to Sunderland on Saturday.

However, Owen, who scored twice to beat Arsenal in the 2001 FA Cup final for Liverpool, feels that the Gunners should be happy if they qualify for the Champions League and claim their first silverware since 2005.

“If I was an Arsenal player I’d be really excited to have such a good opportunity to win the cup,” he told Goal. “They only have to play to their ability.

“All the other big teams are out and if they can play to their potential, they’ve got to beat a Championship team and then either a League One team or a side in the bottom half of the Premier League. It’s a fantastic opportunity to win a huge piece of silverware.

“I don’t go along with them not having a good mentality. I think they do and they’re doing exactly what they should be doing at the moment.

“They’re about the fourth or fifth best team in the Premier League and that’s exactly where they’re going to finish up. If they get fourth and win the cup it will be a good season for them.

“They’re punching exactly their weight and they’ve got a great chance to win the FA Cup. They just need to seize the moment.”

Owen also believes that winning the FA Cup would be a big step towards lifting the atmosphere of negativity around Arsenal, though he insists that further investment is needed to propel them to greater heights.

“It would be huge for them to win it because of how big the FA Cup is and because of how long it’s been since they won a trophy,” he added.

“In terms of it being a springboard, not really. They need to carry on developing their team and add a bit more quality if they want to compete for the title but this competition has really opened up for them and they’ll never get a better chance to win it.

“It would bring a nice bit of relief for Arsenal fans and a nice bit of cheer and, if they can wrap it up with coming fourth in the league, that will make it a good season for them.”

Fans can watch The FA Cup semi final between Hull City and Sheffield United exclusively live from 3pm on BT Sport 1 this Sunday. BT Sport is free with BT broadband, to find out more visit www.btsport.com

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