Before the days leading up to the FA Cup Final, I had a few thoughts rushing through my head. With so much riding on this game, European qualification, bragging rights, the chance to win Arteta his first trophy, our fourteenth FA cup and a win increasing the odds of Aubameyang committing his future to Arsenal, it was going to be a massive game.
I did have my concerns, leading up to Kick-off. In big games and under high pressure moments, this is usually when this Arsenal side crumble.
Take our away record for example. We haven’t beaten a top six team, away from home in Five years! Take our previous two cup final performances, where we were beaten in humiliating fashion, not once but twice by Manchester City and Chelsea respectively.
When inspecting this season, there was more of the same, firstly in a massive game against a struggling Tottenham side. The first North London derby at their new stadium, the chance to break our away-record against the big six teams, the chance to cement a European place and seriously dent Tottenham’s goal of qualifying for Europe and… we lost.
Secondly after two great performances in beating Liverpool and Manchester City back to back, to keep our faint hopes of qualifying to the Europa League alive, all we had to do was beat Aston Villa who were in the relegation places.
We lost to an inferior Aston Villa side in an important game, ending our hopes of qualifying for Europe through the league.
It’s clear we are and have been a good team in the present and in the past few years. In the 2017/18 season we beat Chelsea in the League Cup semi-finals, last season we beat Napoli in the Europa League quarterfinals, Valencia in the Europa League semi-finals and this season we beat Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final.
We were more than capable of winning the previous Europa League final, the 2018 League cup final and the upcoming FA Cup final in my mind as proven by victories against good teams leading up to each of the respective finals.
Yet when it came to those finals, we seemed to have a mental block and couldn’t turn up or even present a challenge to our opponents in the Final.
That gave me serious reason for concern leading up to the 2020 FA Cup Final. Would it be more of the same? Or would we able to emerge victorious in a cup final, when it really mattered?
We did Emerge victorious!
And not only that, we came back from a goal down. The team showed great fight and spirit, to battle back after conceding an early goal. Arteta and the players didn’t let their heads drop, or mentally give up like we’ve seen previous Arsenal teams and players do in the past.
They reacted positively and fought back, in our biggest game of the season. How did this happen?
I believe praises are due for Arteta and all of the players and but some especially are David Luiz, Granit Xhaka and Kieran Tierney.
Granit Xhaka and David Luiz have often been criticised by fans and pundits alike, and experienced hardships this season. It’s a testament to their strong mentalities, just like they’ve fought back from criticisms and bad moments this season, they did the same in the FA Cup final.
Kieran Tierney is another one who deserves praise. Having played at Celtic, Tierney is a serial winner having won multiple titles in Scotland and has clearly been influenced by the strong winning culture at Celtic. He’s even captained Celtic at times, and has been a wonderful figure in the Arsenal team.
Finally, Mikel Arteta the man in charge.
Arteta has been a revelation at Arsenal, having turned everything around in a positive direction. Clearly the winning culture at Manchester City and having been an assistant under Pep Guardiola has greatly influenced Arteta.
Mikel Arteta is the biggest figure and presence in Arsenal’s success and victory in the FA Cup Final, and has proven all the doubters wrong with how he’s coached this Arsenal side to victory.
What an amazing mentality Arteta has, turning an Arsenal side which Patrice Evra previously in the season labelled as ‘’Babies’’, and described as “They look pretty, they look good but they don’t look like a winning team.” Into a winning team!
This is a massive achievement for the club, the players and the manger and I’m proud how Arteta has visibly turned this Arsenal team around.
A young writer who dreams of seeing Arsenal back in the Champions League. Particularly interested in the psyche, mentality and mental health of players – their motivation, the harmful effects of social media, and how the football world affects them.