FA Cup final gives Arteta chance to prove Arsenal are going places 

01Aug 2020
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
FA Cup final gives Arteta chance to prove Arsenal are going places 

MIKEL Arteta insists even winning the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday will not salvage Arsenal's season, but a trophy just eight months into his first managerial role will strengthen the impression the Gunners now have the right man in charge to right the ship.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta could win his first trophy as a manager in Saturday's FA Cup final (AFP Photo)

Arteta won the FA Cup as captain when Arsenal ended a nine-year trophy drought in 2014.

Yet despite winning the competition twice more in the six years since, standards have continued to slip at the Emirates since Arsene Wenger's departure two years ago.

Despite an upturn since Arteta's appointment in December, eighth place in the Premier League was the Londoners worst league finish in 15 years.

"For me this club deserves the best and you have to be fighting for every title," said the Spaniard on the prospect of silverware and a place in the Europa League next season redeeming a miserable campaign.

"Obviously after everything that happened, if we are able to win the final and qualify for Europe, we can say it's okay. But it's not the level for this football club."

The Europa League may be the poor relation to the riches and prestige of the Champions League, but failure to qualify for European football at all for the first time since the 1995/96 season would be a further blow to Arsenal's already fragile finances.

Due to the lack of Champions League football, the Gunners posted a loss of £27 million ($35 million) in the 2018/2019 campaign for the first time in 17 years.

That was despite generating nearly £40 million in TV and prize money from a run to the Europa League final and before the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic saw the club's playing and coaching staff agree a 12.5 percent pay cut.

Victories over Liverpool and former employers Manchester City in the space of four days earlier this month have given Arteta plenty of credit in the bank from the Arsenal support.

But questions remain over how much he can do to restore the club's former glories if he is not backed in the transfer market.

"The gap is enormous," said Arteta after beating Liverpool despite having just 33 percent possession and three shots to the Premier League champions' 24.

"You know how you build those squads, there is no magic.

"You need to improve with quality players and you need bigger squads to compete in this competition."

Before looking to recruit for a rebuild, Arsenal also have to convince their outstanding talent to stay put.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was just one goal behind Jamie Vardy in the battle for the Premier League Golden Boot despite playing in a struggling side and it was his two goals that saw off City in the semi-final to make it back to Wembley on Saturday.

The former Borussia Dortmund forward has just one year left on his contract and given Arsenal's financial predicament, it would make business sense to sell in the close season if Aubameyang cannot be convinced to extend his contract.

"It is our responsiblity for make him feel this is the right next step in his career," said Arteta.

"In order to do that he needs to feel valued, feel that he belongs to us and we want him and he needs to believe we can take this club forward the way we want to do. He is an extremely key player in that."

For one of Europe's top strikers, Aubameyang has precious few medals with only a French League Cup at St Etienne and one German Cup with Dortmund to his name.

In what could be his final game for the club, a trophy at Wembley could go a long way to convincing Aubameyang to buy into Arteta's project and Arsenal's American owners, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, to do likewise in the transfer market in the coming months.

Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta believes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's future at Arsenal could be influenced by the outcome of Saturday's FA Cup final against Chelsea as the Gunners try to convince the Gabon international to extend his contract.

Aubameyang, 31, has just one year left on his deal at the Emirates and given Arsenal's financial predicament, it would make sense to sell in the close season if he cannot be convinced to prolong his contract.

Despite his strike rate as one of Europe's deadliest forwards over the past six years, Aubameyang has just two major trophies to his name with cup wins at St Etienne and Borussia Dortmund.

Arteta captained Arsenal to two FA Cup wins during his playing career and believes experiencing that success could convince Aubameyang to trust the club are going in the right direction.

"No, I don't have that feeling," said Arteta on Friday when asked if Saturday's clash could be Aubameyang's final game for the club.

"It's a package at the end. You need to have a lot of ingredients on the table to persuade a player of his level to be at this football club.

"Don't forget that he still has a contract here with us. We want to do it in a long-term, at the moment he's with us and he should be really proud of where he is.

"Winning a trophy helps to really believe and feel 'wow', I want more of these moments. If you are wearing the armband and able to lift that cup, it is such a moment. This is going to help for sure."

Winning a trophy in his first season in management would also be a huge bonus for Arteta to prove he can restore Arsenal's former glories.

"It generates trust when you win titles," he added. "It generates moments when together you go through some good emotions.

"It brings everybody together, you have memories, there is a lot of things about winning a trophy that is so positive for any group and when you are in a process of (development) that makes it even more important, so we have a great opportunity tomorrow, let's go for it."

Beating their London rivals behind closed doors at Wembley would also ensure Arsenal do not miss out on European football next season for the first time since 1995/96 by qualifying for the Europa League.

"It's a final, the only focus is on winning that trophy tomorrow," said Arteta.

"Financially it would be really helpful and on the sporting side, to play European football for this club is a must."

 

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