Arsene Wenger wasted little time in setting his stall out for next season, targeting Premier League glory after leading Arsenal to a second successive FA Cup victory.
The Gunners lifted the trophy for a record 12th time at Wembley yesterday, having brushed aside Aston Villa’s meek challenge en route to a 4-0 win.
The demolition featured stand-out performances from the likes of Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez, with Wenger adamant his side has what it takes to challenge newly-crowned champions Chelsea next term.
“I think of course we can push on,” he said. “Why not? We have won the league in the past, we have the potential to do it and that’s what we want to do again.”
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 30, 2015
It is now 11 years since the Gunners lifted their 13th and last league title, but Wenger believes retaining the FA Cup is proof they have improved from the start of the season.
With victory, the Frenchman moved level with George Ramsey as the most successful manager in the competition’s history, while he is the only post-war boss to win the title six times.
“I’m very proud of that because if it has not been done it shows that it’s not easy and all of us want to achieve things that are not easy,” he added.
Arsenal’s victory at Wembley was built on their veracity in attack, with Wenger’s decision to play Walcott as a central striker bearing fruit with the first goal.
The England forward’s future has been in some doubt this year, but the Gunners boss is certain he will remain at the Emirates Stadium.
“I don’t see why he should not be here next season,” Wenger insisted. “He was a player who was out for a year and it took him a while to come back to his best. He is now at an age that is very interesting, he is at his peak and I think it’s the time to stay with us.”
Villa boss Tim Sherwood was devastated having watched his side struggle badly. He refused to blame defeat on two late penalty claims, both turned down by referee Jon Moss, and admitted he has a long summer ahead.
“The team has scrapped relegation for the last four seasons, which is not good enough for Aston Villa,” Sherwood said.
“We need to improve, we need to add to the squad but not only that, the group of players in there need to get better and change their mentality, because they are used to losing, which is not a good thing.”
Paris Saint-Germain claimed a historic quadruple trophy haul on Saturday night by beating Auxerre 1-0 to win the French Cup title.
Edinson Cavani’s header after 64 minutes sealed another title for the Parisian club who had already won the Ligue 1 crown along with the Champions’ Trophy and the League Cup – the three other trophies possible in French football.
The French Cup was the only domestic title missing from PSG’s cabinet since they were taken over by their big-spending Qatari owners in 2011.
Clear favourites before the kick off, PSG only needed the second-half Cavani goal to do what no other club had ever achieved in France and bag their ninth French Cup.
“We had a great, great season. What we managed to do is unique. We play at PSG to live such moments,” midfielder Blaise Matuidi said.
“We may have some regrets from the Champions League but we lost to an ogre (Barcelona). It’s also important to pay proper tribute to Auxerre who played a good game and caused us some trouble.
“It’s been a long season but, in the end, we achieved something special. We have amazing players and we’re very happy with what we’ve done. Now is time to celebrate.”
Ligue 2 side Auxerre, who finished ninth in their third successive season in the French second-tier, relied on counter-attacks and long balls to cause trouble to a full-strength Paris team and it took them over an hour to break the deadlock.
The goal came with 64 minutes gone, as Uruguayan forward Cavani rose unmarked in the heart of the defence to cannon a powerful header off the underside of the bar and into the back of the net.
There were hopeful attempts from Amara Baby and Cheick Fantamady Diarra but PSG cruised home
Sepp Blatter has insisted he was not the high-ranking FIFA official who authorised a $10 million payment to the disgraced Jack Warner saying: “Definitely that’s not me.”
Blatter also revealed he will make a personal visit to sponsors who have expressed concern about the corruption storm that has surrounded the world governing body.
The 79-year-old, re-elected as FIFA president for a fifth term on Friday, appeared at a news conference in Zurich where he also announced there would be no changes to the allocation of World Cup places for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.
Blatter was challenged about the allegation, contained in the US justice department’s indictment of 18 football-related people, that in 2008 a bribe of $10m for Warner and fellow FIFA member Chuck Blazer to vote for South Africa.
— alison kervin (@alikervin) May 30, 2015
The indictment states “a high-ranking FIFA official caused payments… totalling 10 million – to be wired from a FIFA account in Switzerland to a Bank of America correspondent account in New York… controlled by Jack Warner.”
Blatter told the news conference: “I don’t go into this allegations. If such a thing is under investigation let it go and definitely that’s not me.
“This is a problem I do not enter. We will not go further. The only thing I can say is I have no 10 million dollars. The Americans are making investigations they have right to do so, I have no concerns, I especially have no concerns about my person.”
Blatter did confirm that FIFA has taken action to reassure its sponsors after concerns were expressed – VISA threatened to reassess its agreement if changes were not brought in.
He added: “We have had contact with the sponsors last week when such declaration came. We have exchanged letters and we start to bring back the reputation of FIFA.
“I’m sure we will bring them back all in the right situation and have planned a personal visit to the organisation of these sponsors.”
He was speaking after an extraordinary executive committee meeting where members agreed that World Cup slots for the 2018 and 2022 finals would not change.
“Some were more grumpy than others,” said Blatter. He also revealed that all confederations apart from Asia will be allowed to bid for the 2026 World Cup – though England has made it clear they will not while Blatter is president.
Asia is ruled out as its member Qatar is host in 2022. Earlier, Blatter had launched an astonishing tirade against US justice authorities and the English media claiming the corruption crisis was designed to unseat him.
Blatter, who beat Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan in Friday’s presidential election, claimed it was sour grapes after the USA and England’s World Cup bid defeats. He believes the arrest of seven FIFA officials on US corruption indictments were an attempt to interfere with the congress.
He told Swiss TV station RTS: “No-one is going to tell me that it was a simple coincidence this American attack two days before the elections of FIFA. It doesn’t smell right.
“Not only did they try to denigrate me but also they used the moment to say, ‘This is the time to go’. Then it was said, ‘We are going to boycott the congress’. But where are we? Where is the sportsmanship? There are signs that cannot be ignored. The Americans were the candidates for the World Cup of 2022 and they lost.
“The English were the candidates for 2018 and they lost, so it was really the English media and the American movement.
“If they have a financial crime that regards American citizens, then they must arrest these people there and not in Zurich. The United States, it is the main sponsors of Hashemite kingdom [Jordan].
“This corruption affair is between North America and South America. It was taken to Zurich and they say it is FIFA.”