It was, in many ways, a momentous evening at Wembley as a new Arsenal took birth at the end of the FA Cup final on Saturday.
There were none of the euphoric chants from the supporters in the gallery as the ticker wound to a close, no full-throated renditions of ‘Hey Jude’, the iconic Beatles number, filling the stands as Arsenal ended one of their worst-ever seasons with silverware.
Yet, the significance of the FA Cup win isn’t lost on the club and its fervent followers across the globe.
This win, while ranking right up there with some of the best cup triumphs the club have registered over the decades, could well have ushered in a turn of fortune at the London Colney.
Why Arsenal’s FA Cup win was important
There are three reasons why Arsenal‘s 14th FA Cup triumph is extra special.
Firstly, the 2-1 victory over a full-strength Chelsea will erase all the self-doubts and lift the gloom that had descended on the Emirates at the end of a disappointing Premier League campaign, one of the worst in the club’s history.
It will give the Gunners, who finished eighth in the league, a world of confidence and belief going into the new season.
As if finishing outside the top four and failing to book a place in next season’s Champions League wasn’t ignominious enough, Arsenal were also in danger of missing out on European football entirely if they lost at Wembley.
Hence, the stakes were higher for the Gunners than the Blues, as the latter had already secured passage to the Champions League with a fourth-place finish in the Premier League.
However, this is not to say that Chelsea weren’t competitive on the evening as they put out a strong squad as the FA Cup was the club’s and Frank Lampard‘s only realistic chance of winning a trophy this season.
Although Chelsea are still alive in the Champions League, not even the most ardent of Blue supporters will back the team to book their place in the quarter-finals of the continental competition, having lost 3-0 to Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Round of 16 tie.
While the final was played in an empty stadium, the first time in the history of the FA Cup, Arsenal looked like a motivated unit, willed on by the noiseless reception of millions far and near who had tuned in to the game.
As it turned out, the proceedings couldn’t have been better scripted for a team which headed into the FA Cup final on the back of a woeful Premier League campaign.
Riding on a brace by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the club captain and talisman, Arsenal brought the colours of celebration back to north London, after a protracted dry run.
Secondly, the comeback win at the Wembley, which helped the Gunners secure a passage to the Europa League next season, will also come as a boon to Arsenal’s plans in the transfer window. The promise European football will enable the club to attract better footballing talents to the Emirates.
While Arsenal desperately need quality recruits to shore up their defence, which was breached way too often than they would have liked in the season gone by, they are also reportedly eyeing options in the midfield.
While the club scouts have their eyes on potential targets, the lure of European football could serve as a springboard to land the desired recruits. Moreover, it will allow head coach Mikel Arteta to take further strides with regard to his rebuilding plan.
And thirdly, the win will help Arsenal to forge a winning mentality. Arsenal finished eighth in the Premier League, got dumped out of the League Cup and the Europa League in the group stages, but the club from north London still managed to end the season with a trophy.
Hopefully, Arsenal will take heart from their FA Cup triumph and put in much-improved performances in the 2020-21 campaign.
Opening up on what the FA Cup win means to him, and more importantly, to the club, a jubilant and relieved Mikel Arteta said,
“It’s such a special day. Hopefully, we’ve made a lot of people happy. The players worked extremely hard. Thank you to all of our staff and people upstairs who made the decision to give this incredible opportunity to manage a club that I have in my heart.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved because I know the difficulties and everything we have been through.”
Bursting with new belief , expect the Arsenal of 1990s vintage and not the ones burdened by miseries, when they take the field in the new season.