Wenger: Cup win tops the lot
10:16pm Saturday 17th May 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Manager Arsene Wenger felt Saturday's dramatic 3-2 extra-time victory over Hull which won the FA Cup at Wembley to end a nine-year trophy quest was the most important of all of his Arsenal honours.
Midfielder Aaron Ramsey slotted home to complete a remarkable turnaround after the Gunners had found themselves trailing 2-0 inside the opening eight minutes.
Wenger had led Arsenal to the Premier League title undefeated in 2003/2004, and also won the Double twice.
However, the 64-year-old Frenchman, who confirmed he expected to sign a new deal with the Gunners shortly, believes that Saturday's result tops the lot considering what h is current squad had to deal with coming into the match.
"It was relief and happiness because of course we were under severe pressure to win today," said Wenger.
"Hull started stronger and we were hesitant, then we made a demonstration of how to respond to being 2-0 down - and also how not to start the FA Cup final.
"This team has a special togetherness.
"In the end, it finished well, so it is a big, big moment of happiness.
"We waited for a long time with that, and it is sometimes linked with the suffering we had to wait for."
Wenger added: "It was an important moment in the life of this team, because to lose today would certainly have been a major setback.
"It was more important today than all of the others.
"We have twice made the Double, so have already won, but were not under the pressure we were under today.
"But now I have won the FA Cup five times, so it is not too bad."
Wenger also said his future will now be resolved sooner than later.
"That normally should happen, yes," he said. "And w e are in very normal circumstances now.
"It was never a question of leaving, it was a question of doing the right job for this club."
Wenger hopes Arsenal can now go on to challenge for the Premier League once again, having fallen away this season after leading the table for long spells.
"To win is a good platform to build on and come back stronger next year," he said.
"But you have to accept the Premier League is very tough.
"You look at the top four this year, and you do not have Manchester United, Everton or Tottenham.
"The clubs who won the Premier League have invested incredible amount of money, so it is difficult to beat them, but we will try."
Despite the celebrations for Arsenal at the final whistle, it had been a nightmare start as Hull romped into 2-0 lead at a sun-baked Wembley.
James Chester and captain Curtis Davies both capitalised on some poor defending from balls into the penalty area to leave the Tigers - promoted from the Championship last season - in dreamland.
Arsenal, though, rallied and reduced the deficit through a superb 30-yard free-kick from Santi Cazorla.
After several Arsenal penalty claims, notably a pull by Tom Huddlestone on Olivier Giroud, were turned down by referee Lee Probert, the equaliser evetually came on 71 minutes when Laurent Koscielny knocked the ball into the net from a corner before being clattered by Allan McGregor.
The Hull goalkeeper saved well from Giroud as the match went into extra-time, when the France forward crashed a header against the crossbar.
However, it was left to Ramsey - who left Wembley in tears as a schoolboy following defeat with Cardiff in the 2008 final against Portsmouth - to finally break Hull's brave resistance before the lottery of penalties.
Hull boss Steve Bruce was left to reflect on what might have been.
"We had such a good start, to go 2-0 up in an FA Cup final is quite remarkable," he said.
"We came so close to winning the cup, but it was just not meant to be and just not our day."
Bruce added: "Whether it is a free-kick for Cazorla, I am not so sure and then for their second goal, it is not a corner but a goal kick, and while I don't think it is the time to whinge, but these things cost you.
"I always believe your name is on the cup, and at one stage, I really thought ours was going to be, but all credit to Arsenal, congratulations to them, they were under enormous pressure and have come back from a position when I thought they were down and out."
Bruce does not believe Wenger should have been subject to such intense scrutiny.
He said: "The one thing you have to be is gracious in defeat, and Arsene is fantastic, how he gets the stick he does, I do not know.
"The fellow is a top-class manager and always puts together a top-class team and from all of us we say congratulations to them."
Hull are now set to enter the Europa League qualifiers, which will see their new season begin in July.
"You have to recover and get on, we are delighted with what we have done, now we have to move fowards," Bruce said.