Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal have now put their Carling Cup final woe behind them and are on course for success this season.
The Gunners went into yesterday’s FA Cup fifth-round replay with Leyton Orient smarting after Sunday’s defeat to Birmingham but left celebrating a comfortable victory.
Nicklas Bendtner’s hat-trick was complemented by efforts from Marouane Chamakh and Gael Clichy as Wenger’s side secured an imposing 5-0 win at the Emirates Stadium.
While the victory may have been against an npower League One side, the Frenchman played up the importance of the result to his side and their season.
“It was important, of course, that we had a response after what happened over the weekend,” Wenger said.
“We did it in a professional way; we always focused and didn’t give them any chances. Overall it was a normal victory.
“If you look back we have a long run of positive results but it was important that we did not let ourselves down to give us a good chance to focus on the coming weeks.
“We have Sunderland on Saturday, Barcelona on Tuesday and then the quarter-final of the FA Cup. It keeps us well focused.”
The victory over the Os sets up a mouth-watering tie with Barclays Premier League title rivals Manchester United on March 12.
Wenger admitted he was looking forward to the Old Trafford clash but insisted it was nothing to do with the clubs’ traditional rivalry.
“Not just because it’s Manchester United, because that means we are in the race,” he said. “I enjoy that.
“It’s difficult to say how we approach this game, how they approach this game.
“For us, it will be after Barcelona and for them it will be before the Champions League.
“Of course, the result at Barcelona will have an influence on that as well.”
While the Frenchman would revel in a cup victory over Alex Ferguson’s men, he admitted league success is highest on his list of priorities.
“It is a tight, exciting run-in now,” he added. “I don’t rule Chelsea out, I don’t rule Man City out, because everybody can drop points everywhere,” he said.
“It looks like recently we have been on a really good run – if you look back at our last 10 games – and if we maintain our consistency we have a very good chance.”
Leyton Orient manager Russell Slade was quick to praise his side after a “difficult night” and believes a push for the League One play-offs is not beyond them.
He said: “It was a difficult night but we need to go away and learn from that, and try and re-establish momentum in our respective league and try and see if we can push on and attain a top-six spot with the 16 remaining games we have got.”
As seen in the Irish Examiner: