Let’s go Arsenal – 14 FA cups and counting – Dan Smith
I promised myself I would enjoy the FA Cup for what it was. I’m not going to let it paper over cracks and
I won’t ignore it’s our worse League position in over 25 years.
When I send my season review in a couple of days, I won’t let this weekend sway my mind. Yet it’s the hope that kills you.
While I don’t trust Stan Kroenke to match his ambition there is something about Arteta that makes you think maybe, just maybe, we have stumbled upon a manager who could be special.
Don’t underestimate what he did on Saturday – the first boss to lift the Cup in his debut year since 1997 and he did it by tactically getting the better out of Frank Lampard. Just like he did to Pep Guardiola in the semifinal. This in his rookie year!
Maybe it’s the confidence of youth (young for a coach) but he has self-belief in his ideas, doesn’t second guess himself and logically as he gets older he will learn more.
I grew up with Arsene Wenger, Such was his ethos I mainly saw us play one way. His principles were so strong he rarely sacrificed his morals no matter the opposition. He believed his way was the best way of winning and that was that.
So, it’s taking me a while to get used to us adjusting based on the opponent. For 2 decades I been used to us having the possession. Instead we let Chelsea have the ball and waited for those moments to break. We did to Chelsea what they so often do to us.
In the semi-final and Final Arteta has been smart enough to understand we have limitations.
It takes man-management to get his squad to play like that, he showed that, as he celebrated like he was still a player. They wouldn’t have done that for Emery. Arteta was a decent midfielder for us but he could be a great manager for us…
And as for the players….
Martinez – 8
Didn’t have many saves to make but became a monster in final 15 minutes, claiming everything, taking charge, etc. Won the hearts of gooners with his interview with the BBC doing a terrible job of explaining to viewers why he was crying. He wasn’t in tears because he’s been loaned out for 10 years. It’s because he grew up in poverty and vowed to his parents one day, he would return to Argentina with a medal. Who said the FA Cup has lost its romance?
Bellerin – 8
Part of our fan base were turning on him, forgetting the seriousness of his injury. The worry was did he still have the pace or confidence to take on his man? Well that’s what created our goal, his burst of energy
Luiz – 8
I said if he plays like he did in the semi-final we would win. He had Giroud in his pocket and was classy even at the final whistle. His two best performances for us were the semi-final and Final.
Holding – 8
Physically he stood up to Chelsea. Great focus and concentration as Chelsea have players who have close ball control, so you have to be vigilant not to concede a penalty. If he stays fit, he is young enough for Arteta to make him better.
Possibly slow to react for their goal? Great though after that. Couldn’t get down the left as much as he wanted, but that’s more due to our attacks coming down the other side.
Maitland-Niles – 8
Had the beating of their left back, although a couple of times his final ball let him down. For someone who doesn’t like that position he read the game brilliantly. There were two occasions when Chelsea got the ball across the box and he did great to pull out of making contact.
Xhaka – 8
Gave the ball away in the first few minutes and I worried it was the Xhaka from the first half of the season. Technically though he won the two yellow cards which turned the game. Did he exaggerate how hurt he was? Should Jorginho have been sent off at the Emirates? That’s my answer…
When defending a lead Xhaka showed great leadership, becoming a shield in front of our back 5. I loved it when he took the ball to the corner flag against 9 men. That’s the ruthlessness I want to see.
It was assumed in October that the Swiss international had played last game for us, so that also makes a great story. After the abuse he got from trolls I would shove this down some fans throats but he’s possibly more mature then I am.
It just hasn’t been mentioned enough the masterstroke Arteta has done dropping this man deeper. The Spaniard’s Arsenal career was going nowhere pre-lockdown. His great footwork won free kicks and tackles and often started our counter attacks – including for our winner. Is it night him asking the ref to book a player? I like that mentality…
His end product is still raw, but his skills won so many fouls. He was doing that at crucial times to relieve pressure. He had a cool head to assist the winner. He will only get better.
Laca – 7
Great work rate as usual. There wWas one time when he should have passed to his strike partner quicker, but apart from that, good game.
Auba – 9
Under Emery he was just a goal scorer. It reflects well on Arteta’s man management as he now tracks back and when he gets a couple of chances takes them. The penalty was class as their keeper has a reputation of being a spot-kick king. Maybe his winner was the one time he benefited from no crowd because surely with 80,000 fans shouting he wouldn’t have been so composed? Okay he would have…
Oh …. and one of the best trophy lifts ever!
To win a Final you need to play well and get some luck. Everyone delivered and I’ll admit there were moments where I thought our name was on the trophy. Their best player and captain got injured, then a harsh red card and they finished with 9 men.
As for us?
Just over 12 months ago I woke up nervous and excited, my whole day geared up for a Final with Chelsea.
We lost 4-1. I had had enough. I looked at my housemates, my parents and my brother and said, ‘help me’ They agreed to support me and make sure I didn’t go through that again.
So, a year a later. I wake up, nervous excited, that butterfly knot in your stomach. My day consumed for a Final …. with Arsenal vs Chelsea. My loved ones failed me ……I’m so glad they did
In 15 years, we will look back on 2020 as a unique year. That time where Football was played in empty stadiums. Where Fake crowd noise was played in to your TV. Where you could use 5 subs.
Oh, and we will ask ….’how the hell did Arsenal win a trophy?’
Arsenal 14 FA Cups and counting…