Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal can learn from the winning mindset Chelsea have demonstrated amid upheaval at Stamford Bridge.
Arteta’s Gunners face Frank Lampard’s side in the FA Cup final on Saturday, with each looking to win the first trophy of their careers as head coaches.
Arsenal’s last major trophy was the 2017 FA Cup, which they claimed after beating Chelsea 2-1 in the final, but the Blues have made more of a habit of winning silverware despite changes in management and personnel at the club.
They were Premier League champions in 2016-17, won the FA Cup a year later and beat Arsenal in the final of the Europa League last season, with Antonio Conte in charge for the first two triumphs and Maurizio Sarri the other.
Arteta believes Arsenal can learn from their London rivals when it comes to making winning trophies of paramount importance to the club.
“They have some very important core players in those winning teams and it’s something that has probably given them the platform to be consistent,” the Arsenal boss said in a news conference.
“They obviously have some really good players, managers and a really good structure at the football club.
“But what you mentioned before, they weren’t a winning team, and they managed to do that and change that mindset and convince players, and put the pressure towards everybody at the club that the only aim and the only thing that was allowed at this football club was to win. And when that happens, everybody performs better.
“I think we have some really good core players. We need to add certain things, but we have the possibility tomorrow to win a trophy, so that tells us we’re close.”
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Arteta was captain of the Arsenal side that came from 2-0 down to beat Hull City 3-2 in the 2014 final and end a nine-year wait for silverware under Arsene Wenger.
“Probably we had too much energy on the day,” Arteta recalled. “We wanted it that much that we were probably too excited and we were shocked when we started losing the game.
“When I mention Arsene [Wenger], it’s because we really felt the responsibility to respond to him because he really deserved it, the way he defended us, the way he treated us and the way he protected all of the players through some difficult moments. It was a moment of gratitude towards him to say, ‘He deserves it, and the best possible way to help him is to win that trophy’.”
Arteta is keen not to put too much pressure on his own players ahead of Saturday’s clash despite the importance of the game, with Arsenal not only seeking a trophy but also a route back into Europe next season.
“They don’t need any more pressure,” Arteta said. “They need to go there and enjoy the moment as well, be free in their minds. What they have to do on the pitch is be clear. Then, just go and express yourselves, compete and be a team.
“You don’t need to talk to them about [Europe and the financial benefits]. They are aware of it. That’s it – I don’t want to add any extra pressure to them in terms of that. They are preparing really well this week, they look ready to go, and what you have to drive them forwards [with] is the energy and the ambition to grab that cup at the end of the 90 minutes, and that’s it.”
With the 2020-21 Premier League season due to start on September 12, there will be little time for players to rest and recover before returning for training after the final.
Arteta says Arsenal are also in talks with league officials and the UK government about the risk of coronavirus infections if players choose to take a holiday abroad.
“It’s something we’re addressing with the Premier League as well – what we can do, what we cannot do – and we need to get into a common-sense situation in order to provide what we need, to value what the players have done as well and to be a little bit flexible,” Arteta said. “Because we live probably in the most protected environment of any industry in the country with the amount of tests and precautions and protocols that we have in place.
“It affects everything and that’s why we’re in conversation with the Premier League and also the government to try to do the right thing.”
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