Last season finally saw Arsenal end their long wait for a trophy. After a drought of nine years, the FA Cup triumph meant a lot to the Gunners, and reaffirmed the fans’ faith in their manager. It was also Arsenal’s first major trophy since moving into the Emirates Stadium.
Speaking to the press, Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta revealed that the victory might also have saved Arsene Wenger’s job. Wenger’s long-standing position at the north London club was in jeopardy before the FA Cup breakthrough.
And the game itself was a thrilling, nail-biting encounter with a fairytale ending; Arsenal trailed 2-0 early against underdogs Hull City, before a brilliant comeback saw them eventually triumphing 3-2 in extra time.
He [Arsene Wenger] wasn’t clear with his future. He always said he wanted to stay but he didn’t sign. In the semi-final – or even in the final – we never knew what was going to happen.
If we lost the Hull game we’d be talking about a different story. That would have started a period of reflection and decision.
It was a big game in Arsenal’s history. We won the first trophy in nine years.
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You can go from being criticised to being hailed very quickly.
The captain also spoke about teammate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has played in all of Arsenal’s Premier League outings so far this season. He said he believes that the potential of the youngster is immense.
The potential he has is second to none. If he really wants to, really focuses, he can go to the very top.
He has the speed and skill to become an unbelievable winger, but he has the vision of a midfielder, and that’s very difficult to find.
Defensively, he needs to improve, but he has time and people to help him.
Arteta also defended teammate Mesut Ozil, who had come in for some serious criticism during the first few games. He was accused of not trying hard enough, but Arteta insists that the German midfielder, who cost Arsenal a reported £42.4million, is an artist.
When you have players like Ozil with everything he involves – his price, his personality – people will either love him or not like him at all.
When you’re an artist, you’re never going to perform nine out of 10 every week. It’s much more difficult for a creative player to perform at that level.
The opposition always try and stop you, so sometimes you don’t shine. And then people ask: ‘Why don’t you shine? You didn’t do anything in the game’.
When that happens you get criticised, especially when it happens in big games. But you cannot deny Ozil is a special player: his movement, his calmness, his final ball is superb.
Ozil was finally played in his preferred central position in the game against Aston Villa, and his sublime performance in that game should silence any critics of his game.