Beautiful challenge for boss Arteta to bring The Arsenal ‘back to where it belongs’
- Credit: PA
Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta faces a ‘beautiful challenge’ to restore the club to former glories – and success in the Heads Up FA Cup final against Chelsea this weekend would be a nice start.
The two clubs met in the final of the Europa League in Baku, Azerbaijan just over 14 months ago, with Unai Emery’s Gunners condemned to a 4-1 defeat.
Maurizio Sarri left the Blues to be replaced as manager by Frank Lampard, while Emery continued in his role at the Emirates until November before he was eventually succeeded by Arteta in late December.
Lampard led his side to fourth place in the Premier League and a Champions League spot, some 10 points above eighth-placed Arsenal, who must now win the FA Cup to ensure their own return to European competition.
The Gunners have shown signs of improvement during Arteta’s time in charge – his first home match was a late 2-1 loss to Chelsea on December 29 – and the clubs have similar records since the 2019-20 season, delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, restarted in mid-June.
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Arsenal won seven, drew one and lost four of their 12 matches, scoring 20 goals and conceding 13, while Chelsea won eight and lost three by an aggregate of 22-16.
And both rookie bosses are on the brink of a first trophy in management, but there can only be one winner at Wembley and there is arguably more riding on it for Arteta.
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“I don’t think the league table lies at the end of 38 games,” he said. “We have a beautiful challenge, a very demanding challenge, but a beautiful challenge ahead of us.
“We have to get this right and bring this club back to where it belongs, which is with the top teams in the country and Europe.
“In order to do that we have to make a lot of good decisions. We haven’t been consistent because we obviously had a lot of issues as well in the background, a lot of things that had happened.
“But at the end of the day, we weren’t good enough to be with the top teams. That’s not a lie and it shows the big room for improvement and the gap is still there and has to be minimised really, really quickly in order to be in a good position to challenge those teams.
“It hurts so much. I know how difficult it’s going to be because you can see the other teams, what they’re doing, what they’ve been doing the last few seasons.
“The road and the direction we have to take in order to be quick in that transition... I’m very positive that we’re going to be able to do it.”
Starting on Saturday?