Things were looking pretty gloomy at Emirates Stadium with Unai Emery at the helm and despite the initial excitement of appointing former player Mikel Arteta to take over his Spanish compatriot, there were still a lot question marks around the direction of the club.
Arteta had been Pep Guardiola’s understudy for several years and his impeccable professionalism and a steady mentality as a player made him a great choice on paper.
However, no one could say whether he will be able to withstand the pressure of managing at a top-level club in the most competitive football league in Europe.
Arsenal’s Premier League season did not end the way fans wanted it to but some of the games did show that Arteta has a clear vision of how to make this team better.
This all culminated in a record 14th FA Cup title on Saturday in what could prove to be a huge career-boosting moment for the young Spanish coach.
Let’s briefly revisit Arsenal’s success in the tournament and talk a bit about what an FA Cup means for Mikel Arteta’s tenure as Arsenal manager.
How Arsenal Won the FA Cup Again
The club just about managed to squeeze past Leeds United and Bournemouth in the early rounds of the 2019/2020 FA Cup and then breezed past struggling Portsmouth to set up a quarter-final with the high-flying Sheffield United.
Mikel Arteta had already settled in his role as manager prior to the bout and sure, we have to acknowledge the fact that Chris Wilder’s team never really got going after the restart but we should take nothing away from how Arteta had organized his team.
It was one of Arsenal’s most gritty performances of the season and a definite throwback to the days when Arsene Wenger’s mixture of flair and solidity was conquering every football ground in the country.
But Arteta’s biggest masterpiece was during the semi-final clash with Manchester City and his tactical mentor Pep Guardiola.
City settled into the game better and had a few chances early on but then the Gunners took over.
I don’t remember the last time Arsenal was so dominant and composed against Man City but it would surely have been before City’s club takeover in 2010.
The performance was everything fans wanted to see. Struggling players were on top form, there was purpose in the team’s passes and Arteta’s tactical plan of shutting down key areas of the pitch was executed to perfection.
It was one of those displays that really lift you and serve as a blueprint going forward.
And despite a lackluster end to the Premier League season, the Arsenal boys were once again terrific at Wembley in the final against Chelsea on Saturday.
The early goal they conceded is still something that needs addressing but the way the team fought back to secure the title was something to behold.
Arsene Wenger is probably going to remain Arsenal’s FA Cup specialist forever but the performances with which Arteta led this team to victory in both the semi-final and the final looked way more controlled and purposeful.
Will Winning the FA Cup Help Arteta Become a Successful Manager?
There’s no one way to answer this but winning a trophy so early on in his career is bound to boost the Spaniard’s credentials.
Sure, he will need much more in order to get to the level of the legendary Highbury managers but this is as good a start as it gets.
The victory will not only breed more confidence in him that his methods are working but will surely help convince the board of directors that he is the right man to take the club forward.
Arsenal’s biggest problem in the last few years has been a lack of a clear plan on how to handle life after Arsene Wenger.
There were grand claims made from executives after the Frenchmen stepped down but the way Unai Emery was appointed and then sacked, didn’t exactly help convince fans that the men upstairs know what they are doing.
In that sense, Arteta was a shrewd move as the supporters love him, he definitely has a connection with the club and it now seems that he is not half as bad on the job as people expected him to be.
There is still a lot of work ahead of course but there is a sense of direction and purpose now. From what I’ve seen so far, I believe Arteta has a very high ceiling in this profession and I would be thrilled for him if he gets the support of the Arsenal board and the time to implement his ideas.
It will definitely be a rocky road but don’t forget that Jurgen Klopp needed three years before turning Liverpool into the all-conquering side that won both the Premier League and the Champions League.