After one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory, Arsenal fans are ready to put their heart and soul into backing the club one more time during this campaign as they prepare for the 2020 Heads Up FA Cup final on Saturday. The Gunners will go head to head with London rivals Chelsea, and if Arsenal win, they’ll book their place in next season’s UEFA Europa League competition.
Prior to the game taking place at Wembley, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta spoke with the media as the countdown to kickoff continues.
On his emotions ahead of the game:
We are very excited, it is such a special day, in the country and in this competition. We are a club that is very much linked with it with the amount of times that we have won it, so we want to do it again. For me, as well, it is so special that it is in my first season in charge in a final with the team and the boys are really excited and looking forward top the game tomorrow.
On how it compares to 2014:
Mixed emotions. Again, the club was obviously in a big long spell without winning any trophies, so we could feel the pressure – as well we were the favourites for that final to go on and do it. The game because a little but crazy right from the start, but the way it ended up was great. After that, we started a run in the competition.
On whether he still thinks about that 2014 final:
Absolutely, I have pictures, I have memories, I’ve got a lot of moments that made that day really, really nice. I think we have to understand the context of how long the club was… I think nine years without a trophy. We wanted to do it for everyone, for the club, for our fans obviously and for Arsene as well, who was handling the situation really well. We knew how important it was for him, and he generated a really good connection between the club, players and fans. The next day was beautiful, the celebration with our people in the streets. Great memories.
On Chelsea being favourites for the final:
I don’t know, it’s a final. The only aim , the only focus, and all our energy is going to be on winning that trophy, it doesn’t matter where we start. Two big clubs playing each other, Chelsea are in a really good moment, they have come back so far this season where they are – they are playing a really good level. We are going to go for it.
On David Luiz and Olivier Giroud facing their former clubs:
It is always good connections when these moments arrive. With Oli you can see in the last few months how he is performing, the amount of goals he has scored for them. We know him, he has the experience on the finals as well. In the case of David, it is such a special day for him to play against his former club and hopefully he can do a performance like he did against City in the semi final.
On it being a big day in terms of potentially getting EL football:
Yeah, it is. I wouldn’t like to talk too much or link these two factors but it is a reality that financially it would be really helpful. Obviously in the sporting side as well because to play in Europe for this club is a must and we have the opportunity to do both tomorrow.
On what he makes of Frank Lampard:
About Frank as a player, he was absolutely top. The consistency he was able to play for that many years, in the position that he played at such a big club, and doing what he did, was incredible. Big credit to him on that. As a manager he has shown, since he went to Derby, the kind of person and ambition that he has, and the way he encourages his team to play. Again this season he has done a really good job. We are both young, we are both trying to learn our positions so I wouldn’t like to compare with the two managers you mentioned (Klopp and Guardiola).
On it being the Heads Up FA Cup final and the importance of getting the mentality right:
First of all, the work that they have done is absolutely incredible. It is something that people don’t really want to talk about and it is so important, sometimes much more important than the physical side because they are both very much linked. It creates such a topic that we can do it openly, and they have given their name to the cup this season first of all. Second question [you asked], I have had so many managers that if you want to talk about someone who has been an example, or I have seen how to prepare for a final like this, with experience and the amount of titles they have won, obviously I have to mention Pep and of course Arsene as well.
On how he approaches the pre-match speech in the dressing room:
I always need to have the feeling of how we are and I need to smell it a little bit. Sometimes I will act in a natural way and sometimes I will have something prepared. But something that is prepared for Saturday when you don’t believe that it’s the right moment to do it, you don’t have to do it. So I will see tomorrow how we are, what is needed and try to top them up.
On whether his players should put baby oil on their arms to stop Jorginho grabbing them:
No. He’s a clever player and he knows what he’s doing and it’s part of the competition.
On whether his cup final emotions are different as a coach than a player:
I don’t know if it’s nervousness, it’s just that you are anxious for the day to come, to play that occasion, to be on that pitch. Because of all the preparation and when you are sitting in that hotel next to Wembley and you see all that atmosphere and all the families, you just want to go on that pitch and start the game and grab that trophy as quickly as possible. It’s the same feeling that I have today. I want it to already be tomorrow, I want to be there and to feel my players and go out there and win that trophy.
On how big it would be to win a trophy in his first season for the sake of building a team:
Well, it generates the trust when you win a title. It generates moments when together you go through good emotions and at the end it brings everybody together and you have good memories. It’s about winning and winning a trophy that is so positive for any club and when you are in a process, obviously that makes it even more important, we have a great opportunity tomorrow, so let’s go for it.
On playing in an empty Wembley for a cup final:
For me, I always say that it is, for me, the most beautiful day in English football. The last game of the season, everybody is waiting and everybody is watching and the atmosphere of Wembley with the two halves of that stadium in different colours, is incredibly beautiful. It’s a shame that we cannot enjoy that moment.
On what it would mean to him personally to win a trophy so early in his managerial career:
It would be absolutely great. We’ve worked so hard since I joined here to take this club back to winning titles, so if we can achieve that I will be delighted. But not for myself. For the players and the club. They’ve been through some very difficult moments in the last few seasons and as well for our fans, because they really deserve to be given some joy and some nice moments.
On the threat of Olivier Giroud and how he’s turned things around at Chelsea:
I’m not surprised, because I know Oli. He is a fighter. Even when he was playing for us and he had some difficult moments, he always reacted. He always works really hard and comparing with the greatest is like always. They’ve done it and they did it for long periods where they were really successful at the club. So any comparison with them is always difficult. I’m glad that he is doing really well, but hopefully tomorrow he won’t do that well.
On whether he feels that the points gap in the table is a fair reflection in the difference in quality of the teams:
Well at the end of the day, I always say that the league table doesn’t lie too much. You can look at some decisions, even in the games that we played together, where we could have the gap a little bit smaller, but they’ve come a long way. They’ve done a lot of things right this year and I think Frank has evolved their team in a really positive way and you can see the results that they’ve been having.
On whether he has a fear this might be Auba’s last game in an Arsenal shirt:
No, I don’t have that fear.
On if winning the FA Cup will be enough to influence Aubameyang to stay:
No. What I said is it’s a package at the end. You need a lot of ingredients on the table to persuade a player of his level to be at this football club. Don’t forget that he still has a contract here with us. We wanted to keep him and do it in a more long-term way but at the moment he’s with us and I think he should be really proud of where he is as well.
On if we will set-up similar tactically compared to Manchester City:
It’s a final. It’s a different game. It’s a different opponent with different qualities so you cannot approach the game in the same way.
On if he watched the Europa League final last year:
Yes I did.
On what gives him the confidence that this final will have a different outcome:
Because a year in football is a different life, really. Even two weeks or three days later you can see a team performing one way then they can be a different team so I think there is not many things to get from that.
On if he’s spoken to the squad about last year’s final ahead of this one:
On if Arsene Wenger has been in touch ahead of the final:
No, I haven’t been in touch with him. I’ve been in touch over the last few months a few times with him but not before the final.
On players focusing on the game and not on what winning it could mean for next season:
We have to play the game and try to win the game and perform at the highest level. We know the opponent that we’re going to have in front of us and the rest is a consequence of our performance and what we do on the day.
On the gap between Arsenal and Chelsea:
I don’t know how they are structured or what the resources are for them. Obviously you can see the squad they have at the moment, the amount of players that they have, the quality of the players that they have and the good work that they are doing. We have some really good players as well, we are a good squad and we are an incredible club so I think we are in a good position.
On his family and who he will miss not being at Wembley:
Nobody is coming to the game. Obviously my wife, my kids, my family… Every time I have been in this competition, whether it’s been as a player or as part of the coaching staff I have always had my family there. It gives me a lot of energy, the fact that they are there enjoying the day – it makes it a bit more special and I think we’re all going to miss that part.
On if the family will have a cup final party at home:
Yes. They will do it at home for sure.
On how the players will celebrate:
What we have to do is win it, then we will enjoy it together. But let’s win it.
On if winning the FA Cup will encourage Aubameyang to stay:
Absolutely. That has a strong link with everything that you want to experience as a player. Winning the trophy helps to really believe and feel, ‘Wow, I want to experience more of these moments.’ If you are wearing the armband and you are able to lift that cup, it’s such a moment – this is going to help for sure.
On who might be added to the coaching staff:
At the end of the season, we will talk about it.
Quotes courtesy of Arsenal.com
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