Opinion: Why Sunday’s performance fills me with fear ahead of FA Cup final

If there was such a thing as a bad win, that’s what we had against Watford. by Dan Smith

Pre-match, I said Arteta should play a strong line up as it was more important to go into cup final week with the confidence of a victory than our star men having a rest.

Yet somehow, despite a victory, I’m less confident of a win next weekend as I was before kick-off.
The worry is that I hope our squad doesn’t feel the same way.

Yes, the Hornets played a unique formation in the second half at the Emirates as they had no choice but to just attack, while our priority was to help Aubameyang get the Golden boot.

In that sense, it was like a game you would see in a school playground. One team just running forward at every opportunity with no thought of leaving gaps at the other end while the other team kept giving the ball to their mate because they know he’s better then everyone.

So, it’s fair to argue it won’t be like that at Wembley. If our defensive performance was a one-off, I could accept that. Yet in reality that’s how we have been defending all campaign.

Our opponents ended 19th with 34 points, yet they made so many chances. I couldn’t help but think if Troy Deeney, Sarr and Welbeck can make us so uncomfortable, then imagine what the likes of Pulisic and Mount will do to us, talent who like to run with the ball and have quick footwork.

It’s not just the back 5, where was the protection from midfield? We will spend the next few days debating the talent of both Arsenal and Chelsea, yet next Saturday comes down to ‘will the likes of David Luiz have one of those days?’

In one year with us, the Brazilian has conceded more penalties and red cards then he did in his entire stay at the Bridge. So, one lapse of concentration could cost us a trophy.

Instead of forming an understanding with Rob Holding and Tierney (for the second time it seems Mustafi will miss a FA Cup Final) I have less faith in them now than I did before kick-off. Does that impact on an individual’s own performance?

Can an Auba or Laca just focus on their own game when they are worrying that someone at the back will undermine them?

Yes, our manager proved in the semi-final he can tactically set up an 11 to protect a weak defence but that’s not what I want long term.

We have an attack who can hurt Chelsea, yet we might sacrifice that to baby-sit our centre backs.

Frank Lampard would prefer we approach his side how we did Man City rather than be on the attack. Quite simply, if we defend on August 1st how we did on Sunday it will be a repeat of Baku.

I was going to be a bigger person and not take any cheap shots at Troy Deeney, who to be fair gave it everything he had in the second half, but I guess he lacked the Cojones to stay in the League?

While I don’t think it was professional for a Premiership captain to publicly critique his peers, have we proved him wrong over the years?

Let’s start at Wembley.

Dan Smith

Tags Arsenal v Chelsea Chelsea FA Cup Final


  1. it was a pre cup final performance dude, we had nothing to play for but they were fighting for survival, just chill and wait for Saturday!

    1. We had everything to play for, Val. Every game is a final. If you cannot do the basics or play to win with full commitment, don’t turn up!

      Pride is what every team should play for. If not. Go home!

  2. Exactly!

    We just worry and moan about everything, even if we lose the final, I am sure it’s gonna be a different game entirely to the one we saw yesterday…

    Chelsea themselves are dreading us, they have the better team especially in midfield but so does Man.City, my only worry is that Mustafi is not available, because he has been immense for us, other than that I am confident we will nick, we gonna have a repeat of 2017, where we beat both City and Chelsea to lift the trophy…coyg!!!

    1. If Holding stays in our half, we shouldn’t worry. I’ve seen him track back a tad too late in the last two games. That is the most worrying thing for me.

  3. Nice one, Dan 👍
    I hope they all show up and not just Martinez, Auba and Tierney.
    Our defence is so worrying….Luiz really is Jekyll and Hyde! 5 penalties in one season! Yikes! I really am nervous about this one… please MA have a word with them all and drum it into them that this really is it! It’s now or never! Last chance saloon!

    1. I am all for losing this final as personally I think Europa League will be a distraction for our title bid next season(yes we are capable of winning it) but I see you are very enthusiastic to win and I believe our boys won’t let you down!

      1. So you rather us lose a chance to win a trophy just so our fringe players don’t play in the Europa League
        Mate how can you argue this squad can win the title next season ?
        In 6 weeks you think we can improve a squad who just finished in their worse position in 25 years ? We are going to close a 33 point gap on Liverpool ?
        In reality mate , you shouldn’t take an FA Cup Final for granted. Could be our last trophy in a while .
        We are not good enough to be choosing to lose a cup Final or putting our nose up to the Europa Leauge

        1. What 33 points gap? Come September we all start at zero. Yes I believe this squad even without additions is capable of not challenging but winning the title. It’s up to Arteta to come up with better tactics.

          This team is too good to lose to the likes of Aston Villa and Brighton.

          Even when we lose to the likes of Liverpool we lose too easily. Their is no fight. Our problem is not that we don’t have good players but there is no fighting spirit and bad tactics from the coach.

          1. So we should sack Arteta and bring in Emery? What exactly is the solution now? With players like Luiz (has given out more PK than any other player in the division), Holding, Kolasinac, we have a chance to win a trophy next season? I won’t say anything other than its your opinion and it doesn’t count.

          2. I don’t understand mate , if we have no fight and bad tactics why would the same squad , without additions win the title
            not being picky , really want you to make a case

          3. @Dan

            The squad is good enough to win the title. There is no culture of fighting to win games, to make our opponents sweat for their goals against us. Am I the only one who see Arsenal is the easiest team to score against in the league?

            Players and the coach have to ask themselves what they did wrong in their bad games and what to do in order not repeat the same mistakes. I don’t understand why we make same mistakes time and time again. It was same under the great Arsene, Emery followed the suit and Arteta has carried on the torch.

            Take Pepe for example, is he talented? Yes very very talented. Does he try? A big fat NO. Why can’t he improve his game? Every match he plays the same. He should find ways on his own and by linking up with other players on how to break the defense. Remember how Fabregas, Hleb and Flamini did it? Bergkamp, Henry, Pires and Ljungberg? Ozil, Alexis and Giroud? They all linked up beautifully to break defenses.

            Arteta should learn how the great Arsene did it and emulate. And the players themselves have to put in effort and try harder. They have to think for themselves. Our current team I see they just follow the formula a coach gave them no matter if it works or not they follow it for the whole game. They should follow the formation but also add their own touches according to the how the game goes.

            And our manager is simply not good enough. You all seem to be giving him too much credit for doing nothing at all! The only thing that matters in football is results and nothing else. Anyone who tell you otherwise is a liar and a cheat.

            Those of us who bash Arteta is not because we hate him or we want him out rather we have acknowledge that he has no experience and no one knows if he is a good coach or not because this is the first time he has to prove himself. Some of you have seen good signs and some of us have seen bad signs. I think some of us are in the right track than some of you because results speak for themselves.

            I will be happy if he proves me wrong and you right because we both want the same thing.

            Forgive my English is not good and I have trouble expressing my thoughts in English.

      2. We lose the final, Auba is gone. I hope you understand that. And not only that, but we won’t buy a single player that will cost over what we get for Auba. So forget strengthening the midfield or defense. If we’re lucky, there will be loan deals and that’s it.

  4. It is so strange no one is even mentioning mentioning Sokratis as part of our option at the back.. man’s a wrestler..lol

    If we can’t trust Holding, then we just have to gamble on Sokratis, Luiz will have a good game i’m sure.
    In a back three we have: Sokratis….Luiz…..Tierney….
    Although, I would rather have Tierney at LWB so we can have the extra height of Holding at the back.

    In a back four….Bell…..Sok…..Luiz…..Ter…

    I don’t ever wanna see Kolasinac near the line-up

    1. I agree mate
      you could have Sok , Luiz and Holding as the three centrebacks with Tiereny left wing
      I think he will stick with with Tiereney as Centreback and then Saka or Niles on left

  5. LEAVING ASIDE THE TWO RATHER CHEAP AND UNNECESSARY Deeney paragraphs that let down this article, I agree with all of the rest of it. Deeney is just a wear his heart on his sleeve, slightly tactless at times but essentially an honest and straightforward man who has limited onfield ability but compensates to an extent by sheer effort. What he once said about us “lacking you know what”, in pre Arteta times, has also been said countless times by countless Gooners on this very site.

    The truth remains the truth whether it comes from friend or foe! Food for thought, hopefully!


      1. I merely pointed out he didn’t have the Cajones to stay in the Prem ?
        He was allowed to say it lol
        Your not one of those Gooners who claims to be ‘ friends’ with him just because he said hey to you a couple of times are you ?

        1. I agreed with him not about double standards or hypocrisy merely that I agree what Deeney said was true. I should have explained better.

        2. Never met him , no love for Watford and no axe to grind at all Dan. MERELY A LOVE OF FAIRNESS AND A LOATHING OF DOUBLE STANDARDS. MY POST ABOVE IS PROFOUNDLY TRUE ABOUT HOW MANY OF US HAVE SAID PRECISELY THE SAME OVER THE YEARS, PRIOR TO ARTETA. Care to deny that truth? I doubt you can bring yourself to argue against what you surely know to be true.

          1. Didn’t say it wasn’t true?
            Just think it’s also true that he lacked the same
            The Double standard is saying it’s okay to say it about Arsenal but not about Deeney ?
            Like it’s okay to swear at Xakha but he can’t swear back ?
            Okay to mock Ozil because he wants to stay then say a Vanpersie should be more loyal to fans ?

  6. That’s why we’re a a mid-table club, too many inconsistent players. Have no idea what Arsenal will turn up in the final.

  7. It’s very typical of every football fan to worry about their previous team’s poor performance- result not withstanding. I share in the writer’s opinion. Before Luiz arrived, Mustafi was almost always the defender we worried most about, but he has managed to play well again such that we tend to be confident to have him in every line-up now. David Luiz is always a time bomb counting down to explode. But in all, match days are different. Nobody expected the last performance against city from him and the other 10 members of the team. Let’s hope we play well irrespective of the outcome.

    1. Well, a good thing is that Luiz had his brain fart against Watford. I don’t think he made the same mistakes consecutively during the season and I believe he’ll have the same motive he had against City.

  8. Our main problem is the mid-field. They cannot protect the defence and they cannot move the ball faster during counter attacks. Midfield selection is our main problems

  9. Hopefully the team that beat MC and Pool will turn up. If not the defence could be in a torrid time with the fast moving blue attackers.
    The whole team did a marking job on the blues. Despite this they still had many shots at goal..
    Believe me Abu will be tightly shackled. So the gunners must chip
    In with goals.

  10. Positive chelsea reason 1.
    Chelsea will be buoyant because they clinch champions league position and are about to sign havertz alongside werner – which will give Giroud that incentive to win the cup because his minutes are numbered for next season.

    Chelsea are a club on the up regardless of Lampard or no Lampard. It just so happens the owner was fond of him as a player, and no sour feelings of him as a manager.

    Positive chelsea reason 2.
    What injuries do chelsea have? What injuries do we have?

    Positive chelsea reason 3.
    There signings for next season will be a feel good feeling but lampard winning a cup in his first season at chelsea will be a huge incentive.

    I expect, much like against Man U – Chelsea will push high against us and force us into errors. It will be important to not let them get away from us because we are not creating enough chances. Almost half as many in the league then chelsea.

    How we play in the Final will have no bearing on our long term strategy of style. Much like against United in the Final (in which we should of lost) we dug in and with character won on penalties, I am not saying we need the drama of pens but it might well be a similar approach required where we dig in and attack on pace..

    My team would be
    Holding Luiz Tierney
    Bellerin Cellabos Xhaka Saka
    Pepe Laca Auba

    Il take 1 nil to the arsenal all day long

    1. Saka won’t start. It will be AMN all day. I’m pretty sure Arteta will treat chavsky the same way he treated Liverpool and Man City.

  11. “then imagine what the likes of Pulisic and Mount will do to us, talent who like to run with the ball and have quick footwork.”

    Indeed. Don’t forget what the likes of Salah, Mane, Sterling and De Bruyne, Silva, Mahrez did to us too.

    1. we can all pick odd games mate
      So if your using we beat Man City 2-0 has evidence that I shouldn’t worry about Pulisic and
      Then I counter that with ….
      Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal
      Arsenal 0-3 City
      City 3- 0 Arsenal
      So the likes of Salah , Mane , Sterling and De Bryne didn’t do too bad against us
      over a period of time i think it fair to worry about our defense

  12. Please how about the much talked about and sometimes well praised six Arsenal young Gunners of: Smith Rowe, Reiss Nelson, Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah and Bukayo Saka who all are in the club first team squad but to no any tangible positive effect on Arsenal performances in Premier League games last season’s campaign that ended yesterday Sunday. Save, Saka who had an average cameo PL campaign for Arsenal last season. But the rest of the five of the six left have all looked to still be at the Arsenal U23 team football level. But certainly these five are no near the standard PL football level at all. Therefore, Mikel Arteta the Gunners boss should not name any of these lackadiasical and psychedelic 5 young Gunners in the 18 he’ll name for the FA Cup against Chelsea on Saturday because they’ve all shown to poor all season for Arsenal in all competitions last season whenever any one of them was given the chance to play. This is terrible! But had Smith Rowe been given much playing time at all by Arteta to prove he could be counted upon to seriously deliver for Arsenal? I don’t think so. Therefore Arteta could include him in his matchday 18 man Gunners team squad for the Cup final to see. Two of the young Gunners players in the Gunners of: Mainland-Niles and Eddie Nketiah are notoriously known for their lack of ball passing accuracy in games for Arsenal overtime. Therefore, what will be the point for Arteta to name any of them in his 18 for the Cup final?

  13. First of all, let’s not be as salty as manure fans and just forget about the cojones thing already. An Arsenal fan shouldn’t be that petty, we should have a better mentality than the one manure and scum fans have. Now, the game.
    I really fear this final, especially because of Baku but even more so because of Chelsea’s midfield and Giroud’s form. I don’t think we’ll do well against his hold-up play neither will we do well against him during corners. I fear it that much I won’t even watch the game. The pain from the Baku final is still very much alive and I’d rather miss out on a fantastic Arsenal game and the 14th trophy than to see another humiliating defeat when it matters the most. I predict the score to be either 3-2 either way or 2-2 and penalties.

    1. Think some are taking the Cajones comment a bit too serious? I’m joking
      Isnt it sad that our players are called worse but that’s okay ?
      Go back and see what Xakha had to put up with.on social media ?
      Mustafi booed pre.season
      Is Ozil not called names ?
      What about AFTV swearing at players ?
      Any language in the Vanpersie song that is worse then Cajones ?
      So bit late to ask not to be petty from our fan base

  14. Both terrible performances against Villa and Watford don’t bode well but the Cup is different to the League and I hope the Arsenal team that turns up Saturday is like when we beat Chelsea to win it before and not like our team in Baku when they embarrassed us.

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