Petr Cech admits Arsenal ’s season will be a “big disappointment” if they win the FA Cup but miss out on Champions League qualification.
And while he is relishing the “special” prospect of facing his former club Chelsea in next month’s final, he insists the Gunners must now prioritise finishing in the top four.
Keeper Cech was brutally honest in his assessment of where the campaign has gone wrong, despite Sunday’s semi-final win over Manchester City, and warns that the team must show their strong mentality now.
He rejected the notion that their recent poor league form was down to a lack of strong personalities on the pitch.
“It’s easy to hide behind saying we lack leaders and other teams have them,” said Cech. “You need to see what is happening behind the scenes, how well the team works and how we operate.
“Obviously you have some periods of games where you prepare and do the right things then the game starts and it all goes completely wrong.
“We had a difficult period where we lost games we shouldn’t have lost and obviously then you’re in a situation where you’re under pressure and need to find a way out. Sometimes you find a way out quickly, sometimes it takes a bit of time and there is damage. And I think this season we had that spell. When you lose three out of four you put yourself in a difficult position.
“I think at the start of the season we overcame falling behind in games. Sometimes you find the answer to the difficulties you face, sometimes you don’t.
“Against Manchester City what was most important was the whole discipline of the team and the effort. Everyone stuck to the plan and the individual performances were brilliant.
“It was very difficult against a very difficult opponent and at times they’ve been brilliant, even in this game although they lost. It was very difficult but we managed to find the answers.
“You felt we had the belief. We need to carry that on.”
Arsenal are seventh, seven points behind fourth-placed City, but have three games in hand over some of their rivals for a top-four finish.
Cech added: “If we don’t quality for the Champions League it will obviously be a big disappointment.
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“We need to keep getting three points in every game to hope we can automatic qualification.
“We play Leicester on Wednesday and need to make sure we have effort, focus, determination and especially confidence.
“I felt we started the City game confidently and although we fell behind, you could feel we felt it wasn’t a problem.”
Boss Arsene Wenger takes his men back to Wembley on May 27 with Cech said: “Yes, it’s going to be special. It’s against a team I had huge success with. Hopefully I will be the one celebrating.”