LONDON: Arsenal have five matches remaining in the Premier League but it’s open to debate whether any has the potential to save the Gunners’ season in the same way as the likely two matches remaining in the FA Cup.

Manager Arsene Wenger won eight trophies in his first nine seasons after his arrival in North London in 1994 but has won none in the succeeding nine years. He – and his team – will never have a better opportunity to end that jinx.

Both FA Cup semi-finals are always, now, staged at Wembley and Arsenal are clear favourites to beat holders Wigan on Saturday evening.

The logic is simple: Arsenal are fourth in the Premier League, boasting a squad of outstanding international players. By contrast Wigan were relegated out of the Premier League last season – despite winning the Cup – are fifth in the second division (that is, ‘only’ the play-offs zone).

But the FA Cup is a traditional home of shocks and upsets. Wigan sprang one of those when they beat Manchester City – an even more talented team than Arsenal – in last year’s final.

Arsenal include Premier opposition in Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton among their victims in the Cup but last weekend’s 3:0 defeat by Everton in the league left Wenger with a test in rebuilding morale ahead of Wembley.

Wenger, taking the positive view, said: “To play in a different competition will help us to regain our confidence. We have to acknowledge that we must go back to basics and come in much stronger in the challenges, much stronger in the way we win the ball back, before we start winning games.

Injuries update

“We have been giving easy goals away. For a long period of the season, we were strong defensively and what we did [at Everton] defensively was poor.”

Mesut Ozil is unlikely to recover in time from the hamstring injury he suffered against FC Bayern last month but fellow midfielder Aaron Ramsey could start on Saturday, as could badly-needed Laurent Koscielny in central defence.

Uwe Rosler will also rely on the ‘Cup factor’ to make a difference. He succeeded Everton-bound Roberto Martinez last summer and may worry that Cup excitement has disturbed his players’ focus on their promotion bid: Wigan have won only one of their last five games.

Form points to Arsenal, just as it does already for the final where they would meet modest Premier outfit Hull City or Sheffield United. Hull, in the semis for the first time in 30 years, should see off opponents from the third division.