Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has conceded that his side came scarily close to producing a "worrying" result for both hopes of a successful campaign and his future at Wembley Stadium today, before praising the united and resilient efforts of his players to finally deliver when it mattered most under intense pressure.
Wenger's stayed on course for their first trophy in nine years after edging FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic in a dramatic semi-final that lurched from disaster to elation for 60,000 Gunners fans at Wembley, with Per Mertesacker's effort eight minutes from time cancelling out a Jordi Gomez opener as desperate late pressure told.
Wigan held firm during 30 minutes of extra time despite falling at the finishing line in regulation, but during the lottery of penalties Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski made two excellent saves and Mikel Arteta, Kim Kallstrom, Olivier Giroud and Sanri Cazorla matched his efforts with four flawless penalties to secure victory, much to Wenger's obvious relief.
In his post-match press conference Wenger told GiveMeSport: "We're feeling relived because we were under big pressure throughout. We expected a difficult game and we were not disappointed.
"Wigan played very well and showed why they knocked Man City out. Everything went a little bit against us during the game in different ways, but we showed some nerves and we did it in a very united and a resilient way.
"Everybody has seen today that the difference between winning and losing is very very small, but even if we'd lost I would've said we were at the mental level I would expect.
"The consequences of going out tonight were quite worrying, but we now have a target for the final and the Premiership.
"We have a good team and are missing too many players through injury, but if we win our remaining games I think we will finish in front of Everton, so we need to focus on that now."
Arsenal fans now a first final since 2006 to relish on May 17th to relish, but Wenger must quickly turn his attention to the fight for Champions League qualification, despite insisting after the match that he didn't check Everton's result at Sunderland before stepping out at Wembley.
The Gunners are two points behind Everton with just five Premier League games left to play, the first of which comes against West Ham United at the Emirates on Tuesday night.
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