Martin Keown believes a third FA Cup triumph in four seasons on Saturday will justify Arsene Wenger’s contract extension at Arsenal.
The Gunners legend, 50, who spoke exclusively to Shoot! from Wembley Stadium ahead of this weekend’s cup final between his former club and Premier League champions Chelsea, is calling for fans to back Wenger’s men at the national stadium – despite the club missing out of qualification for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 20 years after finishing fifth in the top-flight on Sunday.
Keown, speaking on behalf of BT Sport ahead of the Emirates FA Cup Final, said, “The way that it [football] is changing now with all these footballing giants, we have got some of the wealthiest clubs in world football – Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea – every time you pick up a trophy in that company, it is worth picking up, it is something to shout about.
“Arsenal have been able to do that, and if Arsenal can do that this year, it is enough to justify Arsene Wenger being at the club.
“If he wins that [the FA Cup] for the seventh time, that is quite remarkable.
“As a foreign man coming here, he quickly understood the heritage of this great competition and when he finally leaves this island, he is going to go away with a bag full of FA Cup medals.”
Victory over Antonio Conte’s Blues would give the Frenchman his seventh FA Cup winners medal – and his third in four years – though the North London outfit’s failure to challenge for the Premier League title since their ‘Invincible’ 2003-04 campaign has some fans calling for the 67-year-old to walk away from the Emirates Stadium this summer, when Wenger’s deal expires.
However, he is reportedly set to announce a contract extension after Saturday’s FA Cup final.
‘Invincible’ defender Keown added, “When you go unbeaten for a whole season, then you don’t ever win it again, I think if anyone would have told us that 13 years ago, no one would have believed it.
“Somewhere along the line the standards have fallen, maybe they haven’t fallen that far, but for some fans it is too much to take.
“What I am hoping for on Saturday, whatever camp you are in, that you come and get behind the team.
“I think it has been a difficult environment for the players to play in.”
Watch Arsenal v Chelsea in the Emirates FA Cup Final live on BT Sport 2 from 4:30pm on Saturday, May 27. BT Sport is your home of unmissable football from the Emirates FA Cup and Premier League. For more info visit btsport.com.