Hull v Arsenal: Arsene Wenger warns against complacency as Arsenal look to take advantage of Everton's slip-up in race for fourth
Wenger's side travel to Hull on Easter Sunday in a dress rehearsal for next month's FA Cup final with their focus still on securing a top-four finish
Thursday 17 April 2014
Manager Arsene Wenger insists there can be no complacency from Arsenal if they are to secure a top-four finish despite Everton's unexpected home defeat by Crystal Palace.
The Gunners, who beat West Ham on Tuesday night, saw their hopes of Champions League qualification receive a boost after Roberto Martinez's side saw their seven-match winning streak brought to an abrupt end by the Eagles, now safe in the Barclays Premier League for another season.
Wenger, though, insists there is still plenty of work ahead for his side, who travel to FA Cup final opponents Hull on Easter Sunday where they could have record signing Mesut Ozil available again following a hamstring injury.
"It is of course a big encouragement but there is a lot of work to do for us, and that's what we want to continue to do," said Wenger, whose side are a point ahead of the Toffees.
"We have a big game at Hull, we just want to prepare as well as we can for it.
"I think mentally we are in a better shape than a week ago, because we had two important wins, and that of course puts us in a better condition on the confidence front."
Arsenal's trip to Hull was rescheduled following the decision by the Premier League to move Chelsea's home game against Sunderland forward ahead of the Champions League semi-final first leg against Atletico Madrid.
The switch was berated by Gunners' fans, many of whom had already made travel plans for the original date of Saturday.
Wenger feels while the alteration "is not too disturbing" in terms of preparations, it leaves questions over just which fixtures can be changed, having seen Arsenal have to play at Manchester City on a Saturday lunchtime kick-off earlier this season soon after returning from a crunch Champions League game away to Napoli.
He said: "We never got any help on that front. Never.
"There is no written rule. When you speak to the Premier League, it is not the Premier League. It is the television companies who help, they decide who plays when and some clubs have maybe better introductions with television companies.
"We never had and we never tried to influence the decision of Sky or any other company.
"If you want to know more, you look at the teams who have been protected since the start of the season and the teams who had the biggest rest between games.
"You will see and you come to your own conclusions. I don't question the objectivity of the television companies, but sometimes their choices don't look very rational."
Wenger added: "If you want an objective view, I haven't made it - just make your analysis between Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Man City, Man United and all the other teams who play in the Champions League and you will come to your own conclusions."
Both Arsenal and Hull are set to receive 25,000 tickets for the FA Cup final, with the rest passed on by the Football Association to their 'football family' and Club Wembley members.
Wenger feels the lack of a fair split between the two sides at the 80,000-seater national stadium could have an impact on the atmosphere.
"One of the charms of the FA Cup final was always that the stadium was reality divided in two. It's a shame that it doesn't happen any more because that was always an absolutely fantastic atmosphere," said the Arsenal manager, whose side were cheered on by some 50,000-plus Gunners fans in the semi-final penalty shoot-out win over Wigan last weekend.
"I remember I have been at European Championship finals of the nations and World Cup finals and always there's a little bit of a lack of atmosphere because it is so divided. I think the atmosphere will lose a little bit."
Arsenal will have midfielder Mathieu Flamini back from a two-match suspension at the KC Stadium, while Ozil may also travel up to east Yorkshire if he is deemed fit enough.
The German playmaker has not featured since limping off at half-time in the Champions League second leg against Bayern Munich on March 11.
Wenger is in no doubt the best is yet to come from the 25-year-old, who has struggled for consistent form after a positive start when joining from Real Madrid on deadline day for £42.5million.
"He had a period where he was tired, because he was not used to playing through the season and he was a bit jaded," said Wenger.
"Mesut Ozil is a fantastic football player, and I would put him on the list to be player of the season next season."
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