Sunday 18 May 2014
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Saturday's nail-biting 3-2 FA Cup final victory over Hull City will have a big impact on his side.
The Gunners had a dreadful start to the final, going two goals down after only eight minutes, but goals from Santi Cazorla and Laurent Koscielny, and an Aaron Ramsey goal in extra-time, sealed the club's first piece of silverware for nine years.
"We wanted to make history and win the game, and we made history in both ways - how not to start a cup final and how to come back," he told ITV after the match.
"I'm very happy for the players because I think it was a turning point in the lifetime of this team, and to know they can win in that way was very important today. To lose would have been a major setback but to win will be a good platform to build on."
"This team has a special spirit and a special togetherness"
Hull City, playing in their first major final, had a whirlwind start to the contest with James Chester diverting home Tom Huddlestone's shot past goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski in the fourth minute. The Tigers doubled their lead five minutes later when Curtis Davies fired home from an angle after Alex Bruce's header came back off the post.
But crucially Cazorla pulled a goal back on 17 minutes with a superb curling free-kick into the top corner before Koscielny scrambled home from close range to equalise with 19 minutes left to go. Arsenal missed a couple of chances before the end of normal time but they sealed victory in extra-time with a fine finish from Ramsey.
"Hull City looked dangerous on every set piece, we were hesitant and you wonder if the shock for the team will not be too hard," added Wenger. “But this team has a special spirit and a special togetherness and I knew they would try to respond. It was important for us to get back to 2-1 before half time, then not to rush our game and keep calm and structured. Overall in the second half we had many chances.
"It is a relief and a happiness because of course we were under severe pressure to win and we didn’t start well. Hull started strong and you could see we were hesitant and then we responded well. In the end it finished well so it is a big, big moment of happiness and we waited a long time for that."
"We showed the courage to take the game to Arsenal"
The winner was the perfect end to the season for Ramsey, who scored 10 Barclays Premier League goals as the Gunners enjoyed a fine start to the campaign.
"The manager and players have been under a lot of pressure over the last couple of years, and this one's for the manager, for the fans, who've always believed in us as well even when things weren't going as well," he said.
"We showed great strength and character today to come back to win it. To score the winner in extra-time is something I've dreamed of for many, many years. It's definitely up there with the most important goals I've ever scored. Hopefully this will be the first of many trophies in years to come.
Hull City manager Steve Bruce said he was proud of his team and admitted that he side 'ran out of juice'.
"They were as gallant as I asked them to be," said Bruce. "This group are an absolute delight and the vast majority out there at Wembley were the players that got us promoted last season. We showed the courage to take the game to Arsenal.
"It was a fantastic show from us. We just ran out of juice in the end. There's no consolation in it [the display] though - we lost and so it's gone for me. It just wasn’t to be."