Arsenal Must End Barren Spell, Says Wenger After Cup Victory

Arséne Wenger said Arsenal showed they were hungry to end their trophyless run after they cruised past Leeds United in the FA Cup third-round replay.Arsene Wenger

Wenger, who dismissed suggestions of a rift between the captain Cesc Fábregas and Denilson after reports that the Brazilian questioned his team-mate’s leadership qualities, said his team had learned the lessons from the 1-1 draw 10 days ago.

Arsenal, whose last silverware was in 2005, triumphed 3-1 at Elland Road thanks to goals from Samir Nasri – his 14th of an impressive season so far – Bacary Sagna and the substitute Robin van Persie to set up a fourth-round match at home to Huddersfield.

“The team goes from strength to strength and we have shown again tonight we are hungry,” said the Arsenal manager.

“This gives us a good opportunity to play at home against Huddersfield – of course we will be favourite and I think we had that in mind tonight.”

According to reports of a television interview in Brazil, Denilson had said Fábregas was not “a born leader” but Wenger questioned that translation and said his captain was “an outstanding leader”.

“That once again is coming back from Brazil and is not at all the spirit of the comment that was made. Either you have bad translators in England or good translators with a bad spirit. They Denilson and Fábregas are two very good friends and have a lot of respect for each other.

“Cesc Fábregas is our captain and Robin van Persie our vice-captain and we have many leaders in our team and we are very happy with our captain – Samir was our captain tonight.

“We have a shared leadership in our team but I believe Fábregas is an outstanding leader, especially when you consider he’s 23 years old, with personality and character, and Van Persie as well.

“I believe what is important in the way we want to play football is that everyone takes responsibility.”

Bradley Johnson had given Leeds some hope against the side where he began his career as a schoolboy with a stunning long-range strike to make it 2-1 but Arsenal held firm.

“We got a warning in the first game and learned that lesson and that showed my players are intelligent and is a good sign,” Wenger added.

“I had super quality on the bench too and that helps especially when the legs get tired.”

He also paid tribute to Leeds, where a sell-out crowd provided a febrile atmosphere.

“I was impressed by the way they were organised and their spirit and physical qualities. I think they have a good chance to be in the play-off – we miss Leeds in the Premier League,” he said.

The Leeds manager, Simon Grayson, admitted his side had been outclassed but by one of the best teams in football.

“We showed some good qualities and if you are going to get knocked out of the FA Cup you might as well have it done by one of the best teams in Europe if not the world. They showed what they were all about tonight. The way they started the game was quite worrying for us.

“But we got the goal which galvanised us – Bradley shoots like that in training and most of them end up in Wetherby but he hit that one so sweetly and it was a goal worthy of winning a match.”

Grayson said Leeds’ desire to reach the Premier League should keep this side together despite interest in some of his players from the elite clubs.

“Hopefully the ambition of the players can be fulfilled here – we are not a selling club and don’t need to sell anybody.

“This has whetted the appetite for players to face these sorts of teams on a weekly basis and I believe we have come out of the two games with a lot of credit.”

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