Arsene Wenger: I give my medals away and will do if we win the FA Cup
Arsene Wenger will be the FA Cup’s most successful manager if Arsenal beat Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday but he will still not hold on to his medal.
Victory in the final would move Wenger one clear of George Ramsay’s six FA Cup triumphs with Aston Villa while adding a late twist to an otherwise disappointing campaign for Arsenal.
Wenger’s men failed to finish inside the league’s top four for the first time since 1996 and winning a major trophy might go some way to making up for missing out on Champions League qualification.
But while Wenger is chasing his seventh FA Cup crown, having also won three Premier League titles, the Frenchman has revealed he always gives his silverware away.
“I have no medals at home from anything. You come to my home you will be surprised. There is no trophy, no medal, nothing,” Wenger said.
“I give them always out. There is always a guy at the club who did not get a medal, a member of staff so I have given it to him. So you are always a medal short and you will always find someone who takes it.
“I am not a back looker. I am always forward. At home you would not even guess that I am a football manager, apart from the fact that a football game is on.
“I am not separated from football. I am completely in football. I watch the game that is on on the night but I don’t look back what we have won, what we have done and all that, what we have lost.
“I have memories of the human beings, human experiences. That is more shared emotions and things like that.”
Wenger is yet to confirm whether he will still be manager of Arsenal next season, with his contract set to expire this summer and his future to be determined at a board meeting next week.
Even winning the FA Cup for a third time in four years would not convince some he is the right man but Wenger insists he will do what he feels is right for the club.
“I don’t know, I focus on football,” Wenger said.
“One of the big problems in the modern society is that the big companies sit there not any more to make the decisions that are good for the company but is it popular or not? I don’t care about that.
“I just want to always make a decision, is it right or is it wrong, is it good or not? All the rest for me is artificial debate. So I don’t care too much about all the rest.”
Arsenal are facing something of a crisis in defence this weekend as Laurent Koscielny is suspended and Gabriel out with a knee injury.
Kieran Gibbs is hoping to shake off a thigh strain and Shkodran Mustafi is struggling with illness, meaning Per Mertesacker may be called upon to make his first start in 13 months.
Antonio Conte, however, believes Arsenal’s eagerness to save their season makes them favourites while his Chelsea side have already won the league title.
“Chelsea think we are favourites? He can think what he wants,” Wenger said. “If he can justify it during the game it is even better.”
Conte will be smoking cigars if Chelsea beat Arsenal – eight months after defeat to the Gunners left him mad with rage.
Conte came under heavy pressure when Chelsea lost 3-0 to Arsenal back in September but he changed his team’s formation and fortunes as they stormed to the Premier League title.
Now, Chelsea stand on the brink of a league and cup double while Arsenal are looking for redemption after missing out on the top four for the first time since 1996.
Conte said his title celebrations amounted only to saying ‘cheers’ over dinner with his staff but the Italian admitted he might afford himself some extravagance if his players triumph at Wembley.
“We have to finish this great season and make it a fantastic season,” Conte said.
“There’s only one way to do that, by winning tomorrow and celebrating, to drink a bit of champagne.
“I don’t smoke but tomorrow I’m hoping to smoke a cigar if we win. I’m ready to do this.”