Press conference

Wenger - Why this is the toughest round

We begin our defence of the Emirates FA Cup away to Nottingham Forest on Sunday, with Arsène Wenger protecting a proud unbeaten record at this stage of the competition.

But despite remaining undefeated throughout his previous 21 third-round ties, there have been plenty of scares through the years, and the boss is wary of the threat offered by lower league sides as the competition gets underway.

"From my personal experience in the FA Cup, and I think I have a lot, this is maybe the most difficult round," he said.

"It’s always difficult to start well in the competition and when you play away against a Championship team – it’s always very intense and the Championship teams are ready to face you.

"For them, it’s a big challenge and you have to maintain your concentration coming out of a very loaded and congested period over Christmas. That’s never easy."

The Gunners are looking for a record-extending 14th FA Cup success, and far from moving down the list of priorities, the boss believes the famous old trophy is growing in stature.

"Yeah, I think contrary to what people think, the FA Cup becomes more and more important in every single country,” he said. “Why? Because it’s difficult to win this kind of trophy.

"You have so many teams who want always to win a trophy. It becomes more and more difficult. I think we won it in style in a period where we were questioned."

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