Could it be a good thing that Arsenal are out of the FA Cup this season?

Could FA Cup Exit Benefit Arsenal? by Goonerboy

Good day wonderful Arsenal family. Our unbeaten run and FA cup defence came to an abrupt end on Saturday afternoon as we succumbed to a disappointing 1-0 defeat away to Southampton, this result leaves Mikel Arteta with a daunting task ahead if he is to secure European football next season. However, could our cup exit benefit the side as the season progresses?

With one eye on Tuesday’s night Premier League visit to St. Mary’s, Arteta rang the changes for the FA cup clash.

Players who lack game time were given the opportunities to show they are ready to be part of the first team set-up, while standout performers like Saka, Partey, Tierney were afforded some much needed rest.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 23: Gabriel Martinelli of Arsenal shoots during The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Southampton FC and Arsenal FC on January 23, 2021 in Southampton. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Personally, the decision to rest those players is quite understandable as you can’t keep flogging the same set of players every 2-3 days and expect the same intensity, quality output and fitness levels.

If he had done so, and our key players got injured, I am pretty sure he would have been heavily criticised, that is why being a modern football manager/football player is for the mentally strong. You are subject to harsh and juvenile criticisms and opinions, where everybody thinks they are right in the way they think things should be done without having a clue as to what really goes on behind the scenes. These are the same people that think the FA cup is not a major trophy when we win, but moan when we fail to win it, what do you really want oh hypocrites!

I was deeply gutted we were knocked out, but then again it happens, you can’t win it every year and we are still the most successful team in the competition. That said, that still does not change the fact the players that were supposed to step up failed to do so.

Missing a playmaker between the lines or an offensive outlet from the left, these struggles were incurred due to the omission of some first choice players, suggesting that this Arsenal side simply does not have enough quality strength in depth to compete on multiple fronts simultaneously.

Although we are languishing in 10th place in the Premier League standings, and have played more games than those around us, there is still a lot to play for this season. Arsenal currently lie seven points off the top four and five points away from sixth place, suggesting that the gap between us and the European spots is not insurmountable and, judging by Saturday’s team selection, Arteta has faith in the first-team to bridge it.

Speaking to the official Arsenal site, the boss insisted that, despite the changes, he had named a ‘very strong lineup’ in the cup and ‘ca not complain’ about the players he has at his disposal.

However, the errors that manifested on the south coast indicate a sharp decrease in quality when a few key figures are omitted, and suggest that we will need to field our strongest side if we are to accomplish anything of note over the coming months.

We are now reaching the endgame of this rollercoaster season and the fringe players have repeatedly demonstrated their ineptitude when it comes to the big games, so maybe the reduced fixture list will enable stronger line-ups in the future and give us a better chance of achieving European success in May.

What do you think?

Goonerboy

46 Comments

  1. PJ-SA says:

    Pros:
    -Can play your best 11 in most games
    -Less injuries
    -Solid cover for injuries
    -Focus our training for 2 comps

    Cons:
    -Trying to keep a big squad happy
    -Leaves only Europa as possible trophy
    -Less prestige for the club
    -Less revenue

    1. gotanidea says:

      It’s obvious 👌

  2. Yossarian says:

    I totally agree with what Arteta did. At the end of the day we’re already the FA Holders, and as nice as it would be to retain it this year, I think it’s more important to work on recovering in the League to get a better position, and also to try to win the Europa League this season. With the injuries we’ve had to some of our best players it wasn’t worth risking more injuries / longer recoveries for the FA Cup with Southampton.

    1. Thomo says:

      Totally agree yossarian ,people were bleating about us playing a weaker side Saturday, but I’d rather concentrate on getting higher up the table and maybe going out to win the Europa, at least we’ll have less games to play now we are out of the cup

  3. Wyoming says:

    To me unless you actually win the Carabao cup or win the Europa league they are a drain on the squad and the financial return is pitiful. The group stage of the Champions league is worth more than the Carabao cup FA cup and Europa league combined. Either make top 4 in the league or finish out side the top 7. Don’t get caught playing the Europa league by finishing 5th 6th or 7th which unfortunately is where Arsenal is on track to finish.

  4. jon fox says:

    I reject the foolish argument this article makes, though I understand that some will support it. My view is that we play(at top level) in order to win trophies and we threw away our ONLY real chance of silverware this season- the Europa is way beyond THIS squad – to protect a tiny, miniscule chance of Prem position qualification for next seasons Europe comps.

    That is not perecentage thinking and as a long time pro bettor, I make all my (mostly correct calls) by ruthlessly employing strict percentage decisions. It is important to look soberly and without bias at the strict percentage chance of winning any particular comp. I will upset somew now when I correctkly say that is why Mourinjo has won so many trophies inhis career He doe snot sacrifice those he has a chance to win to protect those he has less chamnce to win. That is sensible thinking imo, even though I cannot stand the man, the same as most other Gooners also cannot

    As for “resting tired players”, well we COULD close down ALL the club games and everyone would then get a permanent rest! That is a foolish way to think and we SHOULD, imo have prioritised the only competition in which we had any REAL chance of achieving anything.

    As things stand we will finish between 8 th at best and 11th at probable worst. They are all useless compared to winning another FA CUP trophy

    I think MA got it badly wrong and though I am a huge supporter of him and his future here, I say this freely and openly. I will not shrink from truth merely because it may be inconvenient.

    1. soccerboy says:

      A colleague of mine once called me “The FA Cup Giant. I thought first it was a compliment. But now, I think it was an insult. We better conserve our energy for better competitions. FA is no longer my obsession. I rather top 4 right now than winning the fa cup.

    2. PxN says:

      Come on Jon Fox,

      I like how you keep it real, but what on Earth gives you the impression that ONLY you speak truth and others speak untruth?

      Do you believe the word would be a better place if everyone one was like you?

      “As for “resting tired players”, well we COULD close down ALL the club games and everyone would then get a permanent rest! That is a foolish way to think…”

      Being the OLD guy here, have you ever played a sport 2 or 3 times a week?

      These players are not engines and even if they were, engines need to get some rest.

      “imo [we should] have prioritised the only competition in which we had any REAL chance of achieving anything.”

      Being a bettor (who usually wins) why don’t you stake on Arsenal’s final position and win?

      You really should stop moaning all the time, football is a game! WE WILL ALL DIE and leave it behind.

      Learn to sheath your sword sometimes.

      Trust me, you’d make a nice grandpa if you weren’t so critical all the time.

      May I suggest you read Robert Greene’s book “the laws of human nature”

      Take care!

      1. Sean Williams says:

        PxN
        Your reply to Jon is derogatory and rude. His opinion is as valid as yours is. ‘We will all die’ is a great philosophical debate, but so wrong in this context. To tell him ‘you’d make a nice grandpa if you were not critical all the time’ is condescending nonsense and worse than swearing at somebody. Just Arsenal does not need this nasty rubbish.

        1. Durand says:

          Perhaps suggest PxN read himself / herself; as in the dictionary. Try reading the definition of hypocrisy.

          Sometimes I wonder if people read their comments before clicking on “post comment.”

          SMFH

  5. Samuel Akinsola Adebosin says:

    At the beginning every season, Arsenal start competing on all fronts to win title or titles. So, it will be a wrong thinking by any Arsenal fan to think that Arteta intentionally fielded a weak Arsenal team for the club’s FA Cup match away to Southampton in preference to reserving his strongest Arsenal team for the club’s PL away match against the same Southampton to win the match.

    But I don’t think Arteta intentionally fielded a weak Arsenal team for their last Saints FA Cup match per say. For, that Arsenal FA Cup match team against the Saints wasn’t a weak team at all, but a strong team on paper that should have beaten the Saints’ team to advance to the next round. But for the single own goal stored for Southampton by Maglhaes that put the Saints through.

    But if the current Artetal summer 1st team squard has no strong depth that can strongly compete in all 3 domestic competitions and in the Europa League to win the quadrupled, the treble or the double this season is another debate all together. But let us see what top quality football playing Martin Otegaard signing will bring to Arsenal at the end of this season’s campaign as us Gooners can only now hope to see Arsenal win the double this season.

    1. Thomo says:

      With so many games you can’t field the strongest team every time that would be stupid, you need to use the squad

      1. John Ibrahim says:

        but most fans think differently

        they expect a full strenght team in every games, be it 2 games in 3 or 5 days……

        they are very used to fifa21 style football where players do not burn out

    2. ozziegunner says:

      The players given the opportunity in the FA Cup should have been putting in to win or retain a position in the starting 11. Unfortunately too many of them let Arteta down and did not turn up to give it all against Southampton.
      To stay in competitions a club needs a squad of players committed to play when required; Arsenal doesn’t have all such players.

  6. OnceGreat says:

    It’s less of a heart attack if they manage to secure the 6th place than to battle it out in the cup competition so I support the decision.

    BUT it will be more than difficult to claw back to top 6. Arsenal have to be on point for every next game and then teams around them must start dropping points. Having just one of the two won’t make it.

  7. Perry ames says:

    Will arteta rest players tomorrow who played in midweek.

  8. Dan Smith says:

    A good idea not to try and win a trophy ?
    Unless we win Europa League or finish top 4 ( we won’t ) terrible decision

  9. Declan says:

    No not a good thing we are out of the cup, the only realistic chance of us getting anything out of this season. Top 4? I don’t think so, perhaps 7th or 8th. EL Cup, too many good teams still in it, especially those who dropped out of CL. Also it’s likely both legs against Benfica could be in neutral countries because of current travel and quarantine restrictions which football is not now except from. Stilll, we are where we are so must play a strong team in every game.

    1. Declan says:

      **exempt**

  10. Drayton says:

    I’m not interested in potentially sacrificing our future (Saka, ESR, Partey, Tierney, Martinelli—who was subbed off—and Holding, who I didn’t want to see playing that game) for another run at an FA cup trophy. I love the FA Cup, but this season for me is all about creating our identity under Arteta, clearing the deadwood, and finishing as high in the table as we can. Sure, another FA Cup run would’ve been fun, but what if that caused us to lose Martinelli again for 9 months or dare I say Saka? We’re trying to grow and develop this season to eventually get back into UCL and fight for the EPL again (which realistically wasn’t happening this season). I’m ok w sacrificing a cup run or two to ensure that happens sooner than later.

    Also, I’m not so convinced we can’t win the Europa League, though again, that isn’t a priority for me over our development that will impact the next 5-10 years.

    1. Declan says:

      Who’s to say they won’t both get injured in the next League game? Cant see any logic in what you’ve said there really.

      1. Drayton says:

        Following the congested holiday season, Team A desperately needed a rest there in the cup. And as we saw on Tuesday after getting that rest, they looked as fresh and raring as ever. It seems some suggest it was a DISASTER bowing out of the cup, but go look at those clubs who remain in the cup and tell me their fixture schedule isn’t chaos.

        It seems you’re suggesting we should’ve played our top players in both games v Southampton (hence the injury comments), but this season was always going to be based around creating an identity, clearing dead weight players, and developing for the future. We’re well on the way to doing that.

  11. Kev82 says:

    I’d rather we were still in the fa cup but I would love European glory a lot more, it’s been too long since we last won a European trophy and have lost our last 4 European finals in cup winners cup, UEFA Cup, Champions league and Europa League but it will be a really difficult competition to win! Anyway let’s beat that lot tomorrow COYG 👊 🔴⚪

  12. KOBIN says:

    Is it me or let it be known that Klopp has never won either the Carabao Cup or the FA. He snubs it every season and take the league and CL has his priorities. We are far off Liverpool, yes I know, but if we are to get anywhere we should define our goals and go for it. Why do pundit say teams like Spurs have progressed lately. It’s because they now finish higher than us and had a run to the CL final. No cups. In fact the only cup Spurs has won in my life time is the league Cup in 09. Their trophy cabinet is covered in Webs and yet they are the better team.

  13. Trudeau says:

    I’m going to push back a bit at this whole furore that Arteta fielded a much weakened team, a line-up some have called disrespectful, Micky Mouse among the things that can be repeated.

    Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Xhaka – all starters.

    So that’s 5 out of the starting XI.

    Tierney and ESR injured.
    Aubamayang unavailable
    Partey just back from muscle injury and as we saw Tuesday night not back to 100 per vent.

    That’s nine out of the starting XI

    That leaves Saka and Lacazette.

    Saka is 19 years old. Does anyone remember what happened when Wilshire got overplayed as a teenager? I’ve got no problem with him getting a rest.

    Nketiah instead of Lacazette? Ok, maybe Arteta has a case to answer on that one. Ceballos injured so Elneny instead of Willock? Debatable.

    So it seems to me that folks are getting their knickers in a twist because Arteta played Nketiah instead of Lacazette. That’s the reason for all the ansgt. One switch.

    1. Drayton says:

      Yep 👍

      1. ozziegunner says:

        👍 👍 The players let Arteta down.

    2. David Braithwaite says:

      Thanks for being sensible.

  14. durand says:

    Not sure if Balogun was registered to play in the FA Cup game, or if he was not on the roster.

    He has to rotate the team, that’s no surprise. It was his pairings that were so drab. Willian has been disgustingly useless, and Nketiah equally as pathetic. Add a struggling and underperforming Pepe, and that attacking front won’t produce anything.

    That is why I personally think he took it as the lesser match. He could have started others and subbed them after 60 minutes, or at half time. He obviously paired the least productive attackers while saving his first choice for the Tuesday game.

    It was a tough choice no matter his lineup selection, and it’s his decision as manager. As Wenger famously used to say, “Judge me in May.”

    1. jon fox says:

      “Judge me in MAY”, when WENGER said it, was just his way to put off til later the correct fan judgement of HIS wrong policies, as it proved.

      I think MA made a huge selection error and effectively threw away the only comp we had ANY real chance to win, with THIS squad.

      1. Drayton says:

        But you must have some eye to the future, no? Did anyone break down our goals for this season? ANYBODY?! If so, were those goals “win a trophy at all cost?” We’ve been winning FA cups and yet it’s enough (of course it’s not enough). Or, develop, cut weight, and get better to compete in 2021-2022?

  15. Samuel Akinsola Adebosin says:

    Which double title wins was I talking about that are still on the table for Arsenal to win them this season? Is the PL top-four place finish a title? Yrs, unofficially it is, but officially it isn’t. If it isn’t then, I must have forgotten that Arsenal can no longer win a double of titles this season. For, as us Gooners know very well they are already out of all the 3 domestic title win races. But they are still in contention for a PL top-four place table finish which is said it’s not a title? And are also still in contention for the Europa League Cup win too.

    I think Arsenal FC has the requisite top grade senior team midfield squad personnel in Partey, Xhaka, Elneny, ESR, and now Odegaard to marshal the midfield football adequately for Arsenal in their remaining 18 PL games and in their ELC knockout matches this season. Who all have the vast capacity that is required to make the club get a top-four place finish and ELC win as well for Arsenal this season.

    And Arsenal also have the top grade offence weapons in Aubameyang, Lacazette, Pepe, Nketiah, Saka, Martinelli and Balogun whom I believe will all reign supremo for Arsenal in offencing in the PL and ECL striking in the goals that will beat the opposition teams in the club’s race to get a top-four place finish and ELC win title this season.

    And I equally think that Arsenal hasn a very strong backbone defence personnel who can successfully withstand the barrage of attacks that could be unleashed on them without suffering any cracks in their match defending for Arsenal in the club’s remaining PL and ELC matches this season as the Gunners march on and keep marching on without slacking off till they get the top-four place finish and the ELC win for Arsenal this season unfailingly.

    But I think Mikel Arteta the AFC manager will have to solve the vacuum at the Arsenal right back position as he solved the vacuum that came up to exist the Arsenal left back position when he drafted in Cedric Soares to mann the L8 position in recent Arsenal games and to cover for Tierney. But if AMN Is loan out this winter window as being rumoured in the media, which Gunner will Arteta chooses to provide cover for Bellerin? A new top quality RB will be sign in the remaining few days of this winter window by Arsenal for this important job doing? Doubtful.

  16. Atid says:

    Should have played our best team, but it’s gone. From here on in Arteta, has it relatively easy, if West Ham go out of the Fa Cup it will get even easier, then we should not get anymore postponed matches unless covid hits.

    He needs to let injuries, illness and tiredness decide how he rotates. Let’s not forget 2 of the teams above us are in 4 competitions, some are in 3 competitions.

    We have a good chance to get back in the top 4 and to win the Europa League. I don’t really want to loan out the likes of Maitland-Niles, Willock or Nelson. But we certainly need to move on some of our 11 goalkeepers and get shot of Mustafi. For starters, Iliev is now back at the club and he is homegrown, I would keep him as 3rd choice and sell or loan out runarrsson.

  17. Nickerless Bender says:

    I’m a Arsenal fan and want them to win every competition that they enter.

    Isn’t that what a football fan is about?

    So ‘NO’ it isn’t a good thing being out of the FA, the League cups as well as being a realistic title contender.

    To be honest it sucks and am now only interested in the domestic league for bragging rights.

    We better win the Europa this year otherwise I’m gonna be sending a strongly worded email to my MP this summer.😇

  18. gerry burke says:

    reminds me a lot of those famous words, silk purse ,and, pigs ear.

  19. RSH says:

    Nonsense. Suddenly we’re too good for silverware and the only trophy thats kept us relevant recently. It was a bad lineup. End of. Willian+Pepe=Loss

  20. Sean Williams says:

    To throw a competition is disrepectful to me. If we think the FA Cup doesn’t merit our best players, the the fact we are the FA Cup record holders is devalued. We don’t have a chance in any other competition, the FA Cup was winnable. It does not make me happy as a supporter to see us ‘chuck’ a competition

    1. Drayton says:

      So you throw Tuesday’s EPL game? Or what? You can’t have it both ways

      1. Sean Williams says:

        Drayton

        No logic in what you are saying. Always remember 1+1=2 not 3. It’s better for everybody.

    2. David Braithwaite says:

      Arteta did not throw the competition and it is insulting and bordering on slander to suggest he did. He has to rotate his squad. The fact that those who played could not perform to an acceptable standard reflects the weakness of the squad.
      All those who played are first team players and have started premier league games.
      Also to say there is no chance in any other competition is simply untrue.

  21. Drayton says:

    For the record, this article opens a healthy, interesting debate

    1. Trudeau says:

      Agree

  22. Shakir says:

    Its pointless to question MAs decisions now,whats happened is not going to change.
    My only fear is now that we must make top 6 or win the europa to gurantee a chance at europe.

    1. Quantic Dream says:

      If we can’t make top 4 I’d rather we finish 7th just to avoid that silly, 2nd rate competition.

      1. Trudeau says:

        I’d say that “silly, second rate competition” has been a key to developing some of our promising young players.

  23. Arman chango says:

    That’s what I said from the first second I realized we are out of FA Cup I know we are not able to compete every competition but we can try to find a way to compete this two competition we remain Europe league and Premier league and we can fight to get top 5 if not top 4 because MA understands the team and the understands his ideas too. I wish well my beloved team🔴⚪

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