Gary Neville urges Arsenal fans not to overreact as FA Cup victory can still make this season a success

Arsenal face Chelsea in the FA Cup final but look likely to miss out on the top four

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The Independent Football

Gary Neville has urged Arsenal fans not to overreact to this season’s performance in the Premier League if they win the FA Cup this season, stressing that every team is “allowed a blip”.

Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat by Tottenham on Sunday has confirmed that they will finish below Spurs for the first time in 22 years, meaning that manager Arsene Wenger has lost out to the club’s north London rivals on league finishing position for the very first time.

With Arsenal six points off the top four – albeit with a game in hand – the prospect of qualifying for next season’s Champions League next season is reducing week by week, but Neville believes that failure to reach Europe’s premier competition should not be reason to panic given the club is through to the FA Cup final, where they meet Premier League leaders Chelsea.

"If they won the FA Cup this year, would that be seen as a successful season? I'd say probably yes,” Neville said on his podcast.

"People will argue their league performance has been the worst it's been for 15-20 years but maybe they are allowed a blip."

Chelsea endured such a blip last season when, having won the previous season’s Premier League title, they finished in 10th after dropping as low as 17th, leading to Jose Mourinho’s sacking and the eventual appointment of Antonio Conte.

However, while Chelsea have bounced back in style with a new man at the helm, Arsenal look likely to return with the same manager, with Wenger closing on a new two-year deal with fewer than two months left on his current contract.

The initial offer made by the Arsenal board saw them attempt to extend Wenger’s deal by two years at the start of 2017, and Neville admits that Arsenal’s slump in results – winning 11 of their 22 matches along with eight defeats and three draws – will not have changed what lies in store for the Arsenal manager.

"I don't think it leaves Wenger in a different position," Neville added.

"There won't be a straw that breaks the camel's back with Arsene Wenger. It's a more the long term principle of whether the board and the manager feel it's the right time - and no-one knows the answer to that. We'll just have to wait and see - it is a unique situation where a manager has been there for so long.

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Fans have voiced their desire to see Arsene Wenger leave Arsenal this season (Getty)

"The board have got an incredible amount of loyalty to him and rightly so. The manager seems to be in a strong position, where he can almost dictate when he finishes. Everyone wants an answer today but I can't see that happening while the FA Cup and league campaigns are still going on."

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