Arsenal face Chelsea in the FA Cup final next weekend, and should we end this season with a trophy – and European football for the next one – it would be genuine cause for celebration.
However, it’s not enough for Mikel Arteta to classify the campaign as a good one, saying that the final league position is insufficient for that.
The demanding nature of the Arsenal boss, and the expectations he has for the club, mean he wants more from his team before he can start to be satisfied – even if he’d have the first trophy of his managerial career under his belt.
“No,” said Arteta categorically when asked if a cup triumph and 8th would be considered good season.
“For me, this club deserves the best and you have to be fighting for every title. Obviously after everything that happened, if we are able to win the final and qualify for Europe, we can say that it’s OK.
“But it’s not the level for this football club.”
The boss spoke about the ‘beautiful challenge’ that lies ahead, as he attempts to restore Arsenal to a team which is competitive at the highest level. You might substitute the word ‘beautiful’ with ‘difficult’ or ‘tough’ or ‘complicated’ or ‘onerous’, but it shows Arteta’s desire to bring back something approaching glory days.
He is also viewing this weekend’s game against Watford as preparation for the Wembley showdown with Frank Lampard’s side, sounding a warning to his players.
“The best way to prepare the final is to be 100 per cent focused on the next game, get the confidence back, get good momentum, and be physically ready to do that,” he said.
“When you’re not, bad things happen all the time. We better be prepared.
“I want to see the players that are in the best condition and the best mind-set to affect the game in the final day against Chelsea.”