After a hard-fought battle against Sheffield United, Arsenal are through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup. This victory comes just days after the Gunners beat Southampton away from home and Mikel Arteta's side can now enjoy a few days of rest before playing host to Norwich City on Wednesday evening.
Hopes of winning any silverware have been severely affected following Arsenal's defeat to Olympiacos in the Europa League. Currently, the only opportunity left for the Gunners to celebrate is if they win the FA Cup and the North London club will go all out to achieve this aim.
The semi-final draw will be made later today during the match between Newcastle United and Manchester City. Although the Gunners are expected to face a tough opponent in the next round of the competition, there is still hope in the club that they could emerge victorious and qualify for the final. Here is a look as five reasons why Arsenal stand a chance to win the FA Cup this season.
#5 More Arsenal players returning to full fitness
With the semi-finals of the FA Cup set to be played in the middle of July, more Arsenal players would have recovered from their respective injuries and returned to full match fitness. A total of five players are now on the treatment table but the injury list could be reduced to just three with Lucas Torreira and Cedric Soares set to return to action soon.
This is great news for Arteta's side given that they will gradually have more defensive options in the midfield and at the back. Torreira has been out of action since the last FA Cup match against Portsmouth while Soares has yet to play a game for the Gunners after joining in January. Their return to fitness will bring more stability to the backline and aid Arsenal in winning the FA Cup trophy.
#4 The Gunners are regaining their momentum
Arteta should be encouraged by the Gunners' improved performance, especially after the defeats to Manchester City and Brighton earlier this month. They have now won two consecutive games, albeit requiring some help from the video-assistant referee today.
The goals from Nicolas Pepe and Dani Ceballos show that Arsenal are looking sharper and more confident in each passing week. Pepe, in particular, worked extremely hard and is beginning to prove his worth to the fans. In the 35 matches played this season, the Ivory Coast midfielder has now scored eight goals and provided eight assists.
After a rocky start to his career in England, Pepe has also slowly established himself as a regular in Arteta's lineup and will definitely continue to play a vital role in Arsenal's attack. Besides him, other players such as Eddie Nketiah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are all working hard to return to their full sharpness. With more time, the team should be getting better under Arteta's tutelage.
#3 Motivation for European football
The odds are against the Gunners who are still hoping to qualify for next season's European football competitions. With only seven games remaining, Arsenal have yet to play Wolverhampton Wanderers, Tottenham as well as Liverpool. As such, it will be extremely difficult to envision Arteta's side finishing in the top six this season.
However, winning the FA Cup means that Arsenal will qualify for the Europa League regardless of their league position. The desire to get European action could motivate the team to work extra hard and lift the domestic trophy this season.
#2 Arsenal's track record in FA Cup
Arsenal are the most successful club in the competition's history with 13 titles and 20 appearances in the finals. In the narrow victory against Sheffield, it is apparent that luck is on the Gunners' side when it comes to the FA Cup. The Blades would have felt that nothing worked in their way after they conceded a penalty, had two goals ruled out for offside and allowed Arsenal to score a late goal.
Riding on this luck and considering Arsenal's good and proven track record, the North London side will have an upper hand regardless of their upcoming opponent. Furthermore, Arsenal have won the last three FA Cup semi-finals they qualified for. Undoubtedly, Arteta will be eager to see his side give their best and win a silverware in his first season as a manager.
#1 Mikel Arteta's eagerness to prove himself as a manager
While Unai Emery came close to winning the Europa League last season, none of the players seemed to believe in the former Paris Saint-Germain manager. On the other hand, it appears to be a different story ever since Arteta took over the reins. Though young, the former midfielder has learnt from one of the best managers in the world and will surely want to prove that he is capable.
Winning the FA Cup will be a great boost for the 38-year-old. Considering the fact that Bukayo Saka and Aubameyang have yet to sign their contract extensions, winning this silverware could be a turning points of many things.
As compared to other managers, Arteta needs this trophy more than anyone else so that it can be a confidence booster for him and the club ahead of the next season.
Published 29 Jun 2020, 00:56 IST