Of the 20-man Arsenal squad that won the FA Cup final against Chelsea in August 2020 only five are likely to be involved in this evening’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg with Liverpool.
In the space of 18 months, serious surgery has been undertaken on the first team (seven players have left permanently and five are out on loan) leaving Mikel Arteta with a young and exciting group who are clearly hungry but have everything to prove.
For many of them, a trip to Wembley in February would represent the first major final of their careers and a key stepping stone in their development.
“I can sense that excitement when they are training and they are really looking forward to it,” said Arteta when asked what it would mean to beat Liverpool and reach the Carabao Cup final.
“Many of them, the majority of them, have not experienced that. This is why you play football, it’s why you play for this club, to challenge for titles and to play in this kind of game and then go and win it because that’s the best memory you can have.”
After a tumultuous week that has seen the club accused of undermining the integrity of the Premier League – views dismissed out of hand by the manager – Arteta also made clear that his players are fully united and expects supporters to further galvanise them with vocal support at the Emirates.
“I think we’re going to see that [unity] in the stadium because we have to defend ourselves and the best way to defend ourselves is to demonstrate who we are,” he noted.
“That’s what we have to do and the best way to do it is on that pitch.”
Arsenal’s 2020 FA Cup-winning squad
Out: Martinez (Aston Villa), David Luiz (released), Ceballos (returned to Madrid), Sokratis (released), Willock (Newcastle), Kolasinac (released), Macey (released)
Loaned: Bellerin (Real Betis), Maitland-Niles (Roma), Torreira (Fiorentina), Nelson (PSV Eindhoven), Smith (Doncaster)
Retained: Holding, Tierney, Xhaka (banned), Pepe (at AFCON), Lacazette, Aubameyang (undertaking medical checks), Nketiah, Saka