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Saturday, 12 April 2014

Arsenal: Top four or the FA Cup - What's your priority?

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A few weeks ago Arsenal were being talked about as potential Premier League winners. Today they are in danger of not even making the top four.

However, after nine years without a trophy, the Gunners could move to within 90 minutes of FA Cup glory if they can see off the cup holders Wigan tonight at Wembley.

But what is more important to the fans?

Manager Arsene Wenger has refused to place more importance on one goal over the other, but if you had to choose between either beating Everton to a place in the Champions League or ending your trophy drought and landing the FA Cup this season, what would you prefer and why?

Arsenal champsFor the money men at Arsenal remaining in the Champions League must be their main goal. Arsenal have established themselves as one of Europe's elite clubs although they have only managed to reach one Champions League final and never truly looked like potential winners over the past six or seven seasons.

Rubbing shoulders with the best clubs on the continent means they can - if Wenger would get his chequebook out - attract the best players to the Emirates. But qualifying for the competition doesn't achieve any silverware - something the fans have been starved of for far too long.

The FA Cup may have lost some of its prestige during the Premier League era, but it's still one of the most coveted trophies in the game. It's probably lagging behind the Champions League and Premier League in order of preference, but beggars can't be choosers. After nine years without any silverware Arsenal fans would love to see that monkey off their back.

Arsenal are the only glamour side in the semi-finals and as such they are the bookies' overwhelming favourites to claim the cup. That is a lot of pressure to deal with, especially having seen the wheels come off their title charge so spectacularly in recent weeks and the weight of expectation hanging over their necks. 

Wigan are no slouches. They are the defending holders and knocked Manchester City out of the competition. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. They always gave Arsenal a tough game when they were in the Premier League and Uwe Rosler will have them fired up for tonight.

Finishing in the top four is a basic requirement for Arsenal in terms of the Premier League, but Everton have qualification for the Champions League in their own hands. If they remain unbeaten in their next six games they will edge Arsenal out of the running - and there's nothing Wenger can do about it.

Football is all about winning trophies. No-one wants to look back on their career and tell their grandchildren "Winners' medals? No, I don't have any of them, but I did finish in the top four with Arsenal 10 seasons on the bounce."

However, as much as it pains me to say it, being in the top four is the be all and end all for most clubs. The riches the Champions League can bring - in some people's eyes - eclipses what a trophy can provide.

But what is more important to you? What would you rather achieve this season? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.

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Colin Illingworth



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