Arsenal are looking to conclude a miserable campaign by beating Chelsea in Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley. A win would see the Gunners qualify for next season’s Europa League after missing out on the competition via the Premier League.
Arsenal are embarking on a rebuild under Mikel Arteta after hiring the former midfielder from his role as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City last December.
The Spaniard faces a challenging summer in the transfer market due to a limited budget but the glamour of a cup win and qualification for the Europa League would provide a boost.
Arteta was asked in his pre-match press conference whether landing a trophy in his maiden campaign would help with his rebuild.
“Well, it generates the trust when you win a title,” he said.
“It generates moments when together you go through good emotions and at the end it brings everybody together and you have good memories.
“It’s about winning and winning a trophy that is so positive for any club and when you are in a process, obviously that makes it even more important, we have a great opportunity tomorrow, so let’s go for it.”
It will be a strange affair because the Wembley showpiece will take place behind closed doors due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Arteta admitted: “For me, I always say that it is, for me, the most beautiful day in English football.
“The last game of the season, everybody is waiting and everybody is watching and the atmosphere of Wembley with the two halves of that stadium in different colours, is incredibly beautiful.
“It’s a shame that we cannot enjoy that moment.”
Arsenal are without injured defender Shkodran Mustafi (hamstring) so Kieran Tierney is likely to play as part of the back three.
It leaves Arteta facing a choice between Sead Kolasinac, Bukayo Saka and Ainsley Maitland-Niles to fill the spot at left-wing back. The latter was a shock starter in the semi-final win over City – and could surprisingly be handed the shirt again, despite being linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium.
On the opposite flank, Hector Bellerin sat out the final-day win against Watford due to a calf problem but resumed training in the week so will be available.
Arteta’s other big call is between Saka and Nicolas Pepe for a place in the attacking trident alongside Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The club-record signing will probably get the nod so Saka will have to settle for a place on the bench.
Calum Chambers (knee), Pablo Mari (ankle) and Gabriel Martinelli (knee) are all long-term absentees.
The game will come too soon for Bernd Leno (knee) so Emiliano Martinez will continue between the sticks.