Thomas Vermaelen: FA Cup semi-final fightback can propel Arsenal to fourth in Premier League table
Gunners captain praised his team after thrilling victory at Wembley
Monday 14 April 2014
Arsenal's stubborn refusal to admit FA Cup semi-final defeat to Wigan can silence Arsene Wenger's detractors and propel the Gunners to a top-four Premier League finish, according to Thomas Vermaelen.
Belgium defender Vermaelen hailed Arsenal's 4-2 penalty shoot-out victory over Wigan at Wembley on Saturday, praising Wenger's side for grinding their way to the final.
French Under-21 striker Yaya Sanogo wasted a hatful of chances to put Arsenal out of sight before Jordi Gomez handed Wigan the lead from the spot.
Per Mertesacker headed Arsenal level before the game meandered to penalties, where goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski pulled off two saves to seal victory.
Vermaelen hopes Saturday's nervy victory will ease pressure on both Arsenal and under-fire manager Wenger, as the Gunners bid to end their stint of nine years without silverware.
"There was a lot of talk about needing the result for a few different reasons, for the manager and showing we could fight and I think we did that," said Vermaelen.
"It will give us a boost for the rest of the season now, we can move forward with confidence.
"I'm very happy that we'll go to the final, that's why you play these games of course.
"It was a long game with extra-time and penalties, it's never easy but it's a good win."
Hailing Poland stopper Fabianski's spot-kick heroics, Vermaelen admitted Arsenal had practised penalties in the previous week's preparations.
Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker celebrates his late equaliser "We did have some practices but I wasn't down to take one," he said.
"Lukasz is an outstanding goalie, he works hard for it; he works so hard that he deserves this."
Arsenal host West Ham on Tuesday night in a quickfire return to Premier League action, but Vermaelen said the tight schedule must not cause any problems.
"It was a long day and a quick turnaround but we've done that before, playing Saturday and Tuesday, so we can't use that as an excuse," he said.
"I don't think they will come to the Emirates and just settle, I think they will come to win.
"We have to make sure we compete hard for the victory now because they certainly will."
France striker Olivier Giroud challenged Arsenal to end their trophy drought and lift the FA Cup, for boss Wenger as much as anyone else.
"It's been a long time without a trophy as everyone knows, and now we have an excellent chance to change that," said Giroud.
"We really want to win it for the fans, for the club and for the boss as well, it would be huge for him."
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