Mikel Arteta says Arsenal’s heavy loss to Chelsea in last season’s Europa League final will not play on his players’ minds as they prepare to face their London rivals in the FA Cup final at Wembley later today.
Arsenal were thrashed 4-1 by Chelsea in the Europa League final in Baku last year when the two sides were managed by Unai Emery and Maurizio Sarri respectively.
However, Arteta, who took over from Emery in December, was confident Saturday’s clash will have a different outcome.
“A year in football is a different life,” Arteta said in a virtual news conference on Friday. “Even two weeks or three days later you can see a team performing one way then they can be a different team so there is not many things to take from that.”
The Spaniard acknowledged the gulf in class between the two sides as Frank Lampard’s Chelsea finished 10 points ahead of the Gunners in the Premier League.
However, Arteta insisted Arsenal would not be overawed by the occasion as they chase a record-extending 14th FA Cup triumph.
“I always say that the league table doesn’t lie too much. You can look at some decisions, even in the games that we played together, where we could have the gap a little bit smaller,” he said.
“…Our only aim and all our energy is going to be on winning that trophy, it doesn’t matter where we start. They are playing at a really good level but we are going to go for it.”
The Gunners boss remains confident top striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will remain at the club and give his best in the final despite unrelenting links with a move away from the Emirates.
“He still has a contract here. We wanted to keep him and do it in a more long-term way but at the moment he’s with us… Winning the trophy helps to believe. If you wear the armband and lift that cup, that will help.”