Was it really worth Arsenal sacrificing the FA Cup for a week’s rest?

Some might say I’m flogging a dead horse (although I would question why click on an article if you don’t want to read it?), but I can’t help but think what Mikel Arteta must be thinking, as he watches the likes of Bournemouth advance to the FA Cup quarter final?

As someone who wants our manager to succeed, I increasingly fear his decision to rest key players at Southampton in a competition we were defending, could one day be viewed as the beginning of the end of his reign.

Part of management is assessing where you’re at, and from there setting yourself a realistic target. He showed incredible naivety to believe this current squad could put together a run needed to finish in the top 4. There’s been zero evidence of that.

Just because we beat three of the worse teams in the division doesn’t mean you get carried away. Fans can be arrogant  – but not the person in charge.

Part of finding a solution is admitting there is a problem. Unfortunately though, like he can’t admit the times we haven’t played well, Arteta over complicated things, tried to be too clever, and it could cost us dearly.

Facing the Saints twice in 4 days he prioritised the League over a chance of silverware. Saturday – Tuesday is a Champions League schedule, so I’ll never believe the same 11 couldn’t cope with both.

The only way he could justify his decision to not take the Cup seriously is if he had gone on the run required to threaten the top 4. That’s what he was gambling.

He felt he needed to win at Saint Mary’s in the Prem, and was willing to sacrifice the Cup he won. He did that because he was naive in the quality of his squad.

How much evidence did he need that this squad didn’t have the consistency or mentality to put that kind of run together? As much as I like him, I can’t defend his failure to judge talent and recognize their limitations.

Referee Peter Bankes shows the yellow card to Southampton’s English defender Jack Stephens (CR) for a foul on Arsenal’s French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe (bottom-L) during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Southampton and Arsenal. (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

He knew we were not improving the team in January (we made it worse), so what made him think that the same individuals who had been terrible from November were magically going to change?

Remember after the first lockdown how Arsenal insisted qualifying or not for Europe would impact their transfer policy. The fact we are suddenly relying on Europa League income tells you much the pandemic has hit us in the pocket.

With the club nearly a year without match day revenue, the situation is even worse. This would be the worst year to not have European Football for the first time in over two decades. Therefore, it’s the worse time to not be trying to win something where the prize is European football!

Which one is more likely, we finish top 7 (I assume 7th will be a qualifying spot)orl we win the Cup? We knew beating Southampton would have put us beating an out of form Wolves.

Then we would have been in the last eight, 90 mins away from Wembley. Who knows, luck of the draw could have included Cherries, Sheffield United or Bristol City, etc?

We swapped that for a week’s rest.

Can I ask?

Does anyone think we have any more of a chance of beating Leeds just because we have a week’s rest?

Surely, you’re more likely to win heading into Sunday with the confidence of knowing you’re in an FA Cup quarter final? Surely, it’s better to face Benfica over two legs without the pressure of knowing you have to win to save the season.

The cruel irony is many saw winning the FA Cup as the reason Arteta lasted through those hard winter months, I fear his decision to put his feet up this week will cost him in the long term

Be Kind In The Comments


READ MORE: “William Saliba slammed by Arsenal legend for Arteta comments

Tags Arteta FA Cup Southampton


  1. Of course, because our players are injury prone and one week rest is necessary before facing a high intensity team like Leeds

  2. Dan Good write. I hope Arteta realises if you watch Leeds they never stop running they must be the fittest club in the league. We will know we have been in game on Sunday

  3. We had to rotate the squad because of the league
    We fight in the league for UCL
    And if we did qualify we still have to play on tuesday

    Thats a good point made in the article

  4. No it wasn’t!! Still to this day I wonder what on earth was going through MA’s mind – prioritising the league!
    Top 4 – no chance.. we’ll be lucky – very lucky – to finish in the top 7….
    And the thought of potentially no european football next season, well just let that sink in!! After all these years…wow!
    Well, having had a week off, surely we should come out all guns blazin’ and win 4-0.. right??

    1. Plus…that game last night was awful and the Mancs going through made it even worse! My interest in the cup wanes once we’ve been eliminated!! Have to hope City do the domestic treble again 🙏😄

    2. Sue, he rested players and gave the like of underperforming players a chance. its on the players not the coach.
      we fielded a strong team.
      We could have lost with ESR and others starting, we lost Aston villa, so why do you think we would have won? because we won them in epl? we played against a tired team

      1. ‘Underperformers’ as you say – so why did he play them? It’s obvious to us who the underperformers are, so that must mean MA can see it too??
        Yes, you’re right, we could’ve lost, but we’ll never know. I was always under the impression if you want a performance & result, you play your best 11!! And as the cup holders, I expected just that!!

        1. yes you have a point, however, there was no way we could have played a complete 11, because ESR was out, and looking at the FA the only key player we miss was CAM because willian style was so slow and the midfield couldnt respond. we narrowly lost. lets move on, we arent going to win this year FA either way, we wouldnt be lucky every season

          1. Why is there no way ?
            How many changes did he make from man United -Wolves , that’s sat – Tuesda y
            Never an issue when we were in CL
            I bet he will play same team vs Leeds against benfica , that’s Sunday Thursday -Sunday

        2. The hope i cling to is when Maureen too Chelsea to an all time low and the following season they had no European football.

          They won the EPL that season 😃 my optimism!

  5. why you think we ‘sacrificed’ FA is beyond me, we had players who have been warming bench for long like Pepe, and we had player who needed rest like ESR and saka, its right we rotate, we didnt sacrifice the FA, the coach did what was neccesary albeit the result wasnt as expected. thats it, it was just another FA cup, wast a semi or final.

    My question to Dan and others who still think we sacrificed FA because our youngstars were rested.
    What is the assurance we were going to win that match with a complete team? what is the assurance we would have won FA if we won Soton

    1. @adajim-four days after losing at St Mary’s, we played them again, a5 the same ground, but with a full team. Guess what PAL? We won.
      It’s strange that when we have our better players in the team we increase our chances of winning. Perhaps Arteta ought to have been told this.

      1. Sorry to jump in, but I think we won mainly because their squad was depleted due to injuries to first-team fullbacks, suffered in or after the cup tie. It might have been a more even contest had they played.

        1. So do you think that arteta will put out the same squad for an EPL game…..
          I do not understand your logic
          He completely prioritised the league over fa cup
          What is the point saving players beating Southampton then losing the next to fixtures to wolves and villa?
          Well it makes perfect sense at least we earned a valuable 3 points

  6. We could have just as easy lost the FA Cup game by playing our strongest team, you cannot say we would have won that game with a strong team. I would have liked to have played a strong team against Soton but the team MA put out was quite capable of winning the game if they all played well. We lost, it happens, get over it.

      1. The issue here is simple. Arteta has basically condemned us to having no European football next season through a top 6/7 finish.The chances of Arsenal winning the Europa Cup are quite obviously minimal. So in my mind he should have absolutely prioritised the FA Cup tie, where a full strength side would most likely have won, then look at the EPL fixture. And the fact we won the second game is more due to the fact Southampton had two second string fullbacks than having a tired set of players.
        Arteta has cost Arsenal their only realistic chance of a trophy after failing in the EPL. This is what he should be judged on at the end of the season, which is very unlikely to get any better soon

  7. I think the team we played was fine, it’s just the general system that becomes ineffective in such ties. We have no guarantee that we could win against the saints with our strongest team. On the contrary, if a serious injury would have happened, we would slip further in the League. Most teams except Man City are still inconsistent in the League, so maybe the Manager gambled on that fact. Also, a bad refereeing decision such as against the Wolves might have knocked us out of the cups, so I don’t think MA discarded the FA as not important.

  8. Exactly my position too Dan . I always thought it was the wrong decision to lightly give up the FA CUP and said so at the time.

  9. Why is it us that always need sacrificing one competition to do well in the other. I’m watching man city fielding Sterling, Gundongan, Jesus, Rodri and Silva against Swansea. That is a team going for the tittle. What is surprising as well is seeing Swansea giving city more problems and showing more fight than I have seen us against the same opponent.

    1. for that FA we had injury to KT & ESR, Auba was on suspension hat leave us with only Lacca as our senior cf,

      1. I know 100% that if it was a league game arteta will not field such a weak squad
        He can hide behind the cotton that the majority of the first team was injured.
        Did he prioritised the league over the fa cup yes he clearly did

  10. NEVER sacrifice the cup or any game. They get paid enough to play every day, never mind twice in 8 days every now and a gain.

  11. There’s no questioning the fact that the starting lineup confirmed any suspicions regarding Arteta’s priorities…anytime you play the same team back-to-back with vastly differing lineups you’re going to open yourself up to some criticism, especially if you fail to get the desired results in both

    so the obvious question is why did Arteta prioritize our League match-up over our FA Cup fixture…for some it will be considered sacrilege for any manager to not field their best available 11 in this time-honored tradition, especially when facing Premiership opponents, so any excuse for doing otherwise will be automatically deemed unacceptable…I no longer prescribe to this philosophy anymore, but I do think Arteta not only made too many changes, he likewise had his tactics all wrong

    considering the overly taxing schedule and our propensity to have a myriad of injury-prone players, I do understand the need to at least contemplate possible lineup changes, but his choice to do so simply made no sense since it was well-known, leading up to the game, that Southampton was going to field their best lineup, so why would you not do likewise…instead he irresponsibly bought into the somewhat “pie in the sky” hope that we were going to challenge for European qualification, which was a little difficult to understand considering our League position at the time and our inconsistent play throughout the season…the right play was to doubled-down on our current form, at the time, and simply roll out our best possible lineup

    fact is we were the defending champions, unbeaten in 6 and we were going to face a depleted lineup in the next match-up considering our opponents FA selection choices, so why would you not put your best foot forward in the first of two…to make matters worse, Arteta choices could be deemed unnecessarily reckless as he took a season-long area of concern, our midfield, and made it potentially weaker than it had been since our poor run of form by having the audacity to start Elneny, Willian and Eddie in the middle of the park…all-in-all just poor managerial decisions

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