Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has insisted that he is not worried about whether tomorrow’s FA Cup final against Chelsea could be star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s last game for the club, suggesting that winning the trophy could contribute to him wanting to stay in north London.
"I don't have that fear," Arteta reiterated during Friday’s virtual press conference, with his belief that, "You need a lot of ingredients on the table to persuade a player of his level to be at this club”, highlighting his confidence that the Gabon international is much more likely to stay at Arsenal than many believe.
Arteta lifted the FA Cup trophy as Arsenal captain in 2015 thanks to a 4-0 victory over Aston Villa and was part of Arsenal’s winning side when they edged out Hull City by three goals to two the year before, so he is well aware what type of feeling it may inspire if Aubameyang replicates that achievement and wins his first piece of silverware for the club.
"He still has a contract here," he said. "We wanted to keep him and do it in a more long-term way but at the moment he's with us... Winning the trophy helps to believe. If you wear the armband and lift that cup, that will help."
Aubameyang versus Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta could be one of the key battles to watch, as both skippers dream of walking up those famed Wembley steps to lay their hands on the trophy.
The Arsenal gaffer Arteta was also quick to dismiss memories of last year’s 4-1 defeat to Chelsea in the Europa League final in Baku, which took place before his and Chelsea counterpart Frank Lampard’s respective tenures began.
Mesut Ozil of Arsenal reacts following the UEFA Europa League Final between Chelsea and Arsenal
Image credit: Getty Images
"A year in football is a different life," Arteta mused. "Even two weeks or three days later you can see a team performing one way then they can be a different team so there is not many things to take from that."
Given how much the Arsenal and Chelsea teams have changed since they met in Baku, the Spaniard may just have a point. The Gunners’ erratic centre back David Luiz started for the Blues that evening and the west London club’s star man Eden Hazard soon left for Real Madrid.
Although memories of Baku from last May can easily be dismissed into the past, the recency of Chelsea finishing four places above the north Londoners in this season’s Premier League table is much harder to ignore.
"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," the Arsenal manager conceded.
When both teams cross swords tomorrow at Wembley Stadium, Arteta will have the chance to vindicate the confidence he has in his Arsenal squad.
By James Truscott
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