Mikel Arteta has praised his Arsenal side’s patience as they moved right into the mix for a top-four place in the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Newcastle United.
Arsenal finished off their disastrous Premier League season with a 3-2 victory over relegated Watford.
Two goals from captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and one from defender Kieran Tierney, who scored his first goal for the club, sent Watford down to the Championship next season.
The win sees Arsenal finished the season in lowly eighth, three points behind Wolves in seventh. With European football only guaranteed now with a win in Sundays FA Cup final against Chelsea, Mikel Arteta and his side have a lot riding on the result.
While it is not the Champions League that they so desperately craved, any European football is better than none.
The difference since Arteta took over from Unai Emery has been clear for all to see, but not without its setbacks. The defensive fragilities that have plagued Arsenal over the years are still there, although not as frequent.
The side is harder to break down and lethal on the counter with Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette up top.
While there have been improvements it is clear to see that some players simply do not fit Mikel Arteta’s style and will look to be offloaded in the summer transfer window.
With an extremely limited budget it will be interesting to see who comes and who goes at the Emirates over the coming months.
It is literally FA Cup of bust for Arsenal in a week’s time and while some suggest that no European football could be a blessing in disguise, allowing them to fully concentrate on the league, much like Leicester and Chelsea a number of years ago, I can not help but feel it would hinder them greatly both on and off the pitch.
Yes to another FA Cup to add to the trophy cabinet would be nice and in turn Europa League Football next season and not to mention the added financial impact that it would have (any money is good money). It could also be used as a bargaining chip when discussing deals with prospective transfer targets.
Winning the FA Cup would be huge for Arsenal and Arteta. To finish off a horrible season with some silverware would be a feather in the cap of the Spaniard and will be a good source of momentum heading into pre-season.
There is pressure aplenty heading into the final and as we have seen numerous times Arsenal buckle under it, but with Mikel Arteta at the helm and a somewhat new found defensive steel the Gunners could do what seemed impossible months ago – end the year with a trophy.