ARSENE Wenger admits his desire to take the FA Cup seriously has often adversely affected Arsenal’s Champions League chances.
The Gunners ended a nine-year trophy drought when they defeated Hull City in the final at Wembley last year, and are favourites to retain their title this season following a series of high-profile exits in round four.
Arsenal face Middlesbrough on Sunday as they look to progress to the quarter-finals, and Wenger concedes his desire to win the competition has had a detrimental effect on the club’s Champions League chances in recent years.
“It is important to us and we have always taken it seriously,” Wenger told reporters. “We did not always manage to win it, but we have won it five times during my period here.
“Nobody has won it more in the last 18 years, so we have always taken it seriously. Sometimes so seriously that we suffered in the Champions League.
“Many times a cup game was in front of a Champions League game – for instance this week we play in the cup and then the week after next in the Champions League. Many times we lost some players.
“I remember against Manchester United when we played against Chelsea in the Champions League three days later we lost some because we took the game seriously.”
While they continue to fight on three fronts, Wenger admits the priority is to finish in the top four once again, with the Gunners currently lying one point behind fourth-placed Southampton.
“Our basic aim is always to finish in the top four and then win a trophy on top of that,” he added.
“We want always to be in the Champions League and this season it will be very tight if you look at the table. Every game now becomes a cup game.”