'Why the cup is a priority for us'

As the joint-most successful manager in its history, Arsene Wenger is well placed to discuss what makes the Emirates FA Cup so special.

As we head into our third-round clash at Preston, the manager was asked whether the competition had lost any of its lustre in recent years - and his answer was emphatic.

“It is a big priority for us. We have shown historically that we care about it, and it is a massive competition for everybody,” Wenger said.

“To win the FA Cup is always a target each year. We know as well that after a congested Christmas period that the third round is always a tricky game.

“That is why I believe it is a mental challenge for the Premier League teams to prepare well and not have a bad surprise - especially when you go to a Championship team, as it is always difficult.

“It’s a debate every year [about how special the FA Cup is]. I personally have no special solution but when April and May comes and teams go to Wembley, it’s something special. In January, people do not really know if they can win it or not.

“It’s a special occasion, a special trophy and in every single country, everybody dies to win the cup. I believe it’s still the same in England. Maybe in the past it was even more important because the European Cup wasn’t as important, but it’s a special occasion for me.”

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