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Cup final no distraction for blunt Gunners


Arsenal striker, Olivier Giroud celebrates scorimng against Middlebrough in the FA Cup semi-finals. The Gunners face Aston Villa in next Sunday’s final at Wembley.

LONDON, May 23- Arsene Wenger says the FA Cup final won’t distract Arsenal from ending their Premier League season on a high against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

Wenger’s side bring the curtain down on their league campaign at the Emirates Stadium with a third-place finish appearing all but assured.

Only an unlikely set of results will see them overhauled by fourth placed Manchester United, who trail the Gunners by three points with an inferior goal difference, on the final day.

But Arsenal manager Wenger is refusing to wrap his star players in cotton wool with less than a week to go before their Wembley showdown against Aston Villa, which comes next Saturday.

“I think top-level competition is to focus on your next challenge and that’s what we do,” Wenger said.

“We have enough experience in our dressing room to know that what is important is the next competition. It will be absolutely easy for us to focus.

“We have fought very hard to directly qualify for the Champions League and we want to get over the line and finish the job, which we couldn’t do on Wednesday (against Sunderland).

“We want to do it in a convincing way now. Will I rest one two players? Certainly.

“What is for me the best way is for us to win the game.”

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– Welbeck fitness battle –

Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck faces a fitness fight to make the Cup Final after being ruled out of the Albion clash.

He hasn’t started a game since the semi-final win over Reading on April 18 as he battles to overcome a knee injury.

Despite being an injury doubt, he was still included in Roy Hodgson’s England squad ahead of next month’s international double-header.

“Danny Welbeck is not out for a long time and he has nothing at all on any scan, just bone bruising on his knee,” Wenger said.

“That’s just the pain that will decide if he is fit or not. There is a good chance that he will be available for England.

“We have to wait for the response to that to know if he responds in a positive way. He could be fit very quickly.

“If he is not available for the FA Cup final, I can’t see him being competitive enough for England.”

Meanwhile, Tony Pulis has promised Saido Berahino that West Brom will not stand in his way should one of England’s elite meet their asking price.

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Berahino took his goal tally for the campaign to 20 with a brace in Monday’s impressive 3-0 win over champions Chelsea.

Albion manager Pulis is keen to hold onto the England Under-21 international, yet insists he would not begrudge the £20 million-rated player the chance of a big move.

Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham have all previously been linked with the striker.

“The most important thing for Saido, as I said when I first walked through the door of the football club, was to concentrate on his football,” Pulis said.

“If he plays well then hopefully for him and for everyone else a top four club might come in.

“West Bromwich Albion will not stop him as long as the deal is right for the football club we will not stop him joining a top four club.

“We hope and pray that he stays with us because he’s got a lot more to come and we don’t think he is at the end of his development.

“If a top four club comes in and the clubs agree a fee then fine, it’s all done, people can shake hands and say what a great job he has done for the football club.”

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