FA Cup finalists Arsenal focus on Premier League top four fight

Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:12am EDT
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(Reuters) - Arsenal are one win away from ending a nine-year wait for silverware but must put any thought of FA Cup glory to one side as they resume their stuttering charge for a Champions League place when they host West Ham United on Tuesday.

Saturday's 4-2 penalty shootout victory over holders Wigan Athletic following a 1-1 draw after extra time earned the Gunners a date with fellow Premier League side Hull City on May 17 and a chance to win their first trophy since their FA Cup triumph in 2005.

While lifting a trophy at Wembley would undoubtedly offer the club a welcome boost at a time their ability to hold their nerve when the going gets tough has come into question, a top four finish and a 17th consecutive appearance in Europe's elite club competition is arguably more important for the financial rewards it brings.

Following an abysmal 3-0 defeat by Everton eight days ago, Arsenal lost their hold on fourth place when the Merseyside club beat Sunderland 1-0 on Saturday.

They are now on 64 points, two behind Everton with five matches remaining, and manager Arsene Wenger said Saturday's Cup win could help put them in the right mental state for the challenge ahead.

"It was a relief, everybody was happy yesterday, just for having qualified for the final," the Frenchman told reporters on Monday.

"Anything different would have been very negative in our mind and now we can put that out of our mind and focus on the Premiership.

"I feel we've played many many games this season in many different competitions and many tough games, but we've put in a lot of effort in the Premiership, we want to finish strong now.

"They've got the opportunity to start tomorrow because it's a big game, a derby, West Ham is in a comfortable position which means they can play without fear, so we know in this kind of game that it is important that we have a good focus and good tempo in our game."   Continued...

Arsenal's Per Mertesacker celebrates his goal against Wigan Athletic during their English FA Cup semi-final soccer match at Wembley Stadium in London April 12, 2014. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh