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Arteta embodies everything right at Arsenal as Maitland-Niles sets the example

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Arsenal took their tally of record FA Cup victories up to 14 with an impressive comeback to beat Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley.

Frank Lampard's side started the brighter with Christian Pulisic putting them ahead but goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang either side of half time sealed the win for the Gunners.

As well as the win taking Arsenal's link with the FA Cup even deeper, it means they now have Europa League football guaranteed for next season.

football.london take a look at some of the talking points from the 2-1 win which closed the 2019/20 season.

Video Loading Video Unavailable Mikel Arteta epitomises everything right with Arsenal

When he was unveiled as the new Arsenal head coach in December, Mikel Arteta blew away those in attendance for his first press conference as well as those watching via the club's official live stream. After 18 months of confused messaging, the Spaniard brought clear demands to the club which have been reinforced with each passing week since he took charge.

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In this first look into the new Arsenal, the Spaniard stressed the non-negotiables he would put in place surrounding work ethic which were crucial to changing the culture of the club because "if you don't have the right culture, in the difficult moments, the tree is going to shake" as he said on December 20.

Sticking to his guns has been key to Arsenal capping off the season the way they did and the 38-year-old must take credit for that as it wasn't an easy job. While Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi experienced upward trajectories almost immediately after his arrival, the same can't be said for all players at the club. After starting the first two games of the restart, Matteo Guendouzi found himself out of the side, as he failed to meet the standard set by Arteta in the 2-1 loss at Brighton.

Although the way in which he deals with his players away from the pitch is key to how they perform on it, the direction Arteta has given the side has been just as impressive. Before lockdown, there were clear improvements in organisation with and without possession which continued after the restart.

Then switching to a back three, the way in which he used it was as far from what had been thrown together by Unai Emery previously. There was purpose behind each player's role of the pitch which contributed to more focused and forceful performances across the board.

If the FA Cup final demonstrated anything it was that Arteta has embodied the courage it took Arsenal to appoint him head coach from the day he took charge and they are in the right hands going into the future.

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The disappointment of finishing eighth in the Premier League made winning the FA Cup that much more important to Arsenal as it was their last chance to secure Europa League football for next season, but they did it.

As FA Cup winners, the Gunners will go straight to the group stages which are scheduled to begin on October 22. This means that despite finishing sixth in the league, Tottenham Hotspur will now enter the second qualifying round on September 17, having to play three one-off games to reach the group stages.

While making the Europa League will of course be huge for the club in regard to their stature, the financial benefits could also prove crucial as Arteta has stressed that he needs to strengthen the squad ahead of next season - which begins on September 12.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles sets the example

If there was one player to demonstrate what Arteta's Arsenal is all about in the 2019/20 season then it would be Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

The 22-year-old has had far from an easy season, experiencing highs like being a key member of the early teams, lows of being left out of the starting XI for months on and and the unexpected challenges of playing left wing-back in the FA Cup semi-final and final.

During the season, his application was questioned after he admitted that right-back was not his preferred position in September. Many took that as him rejecting the role due to his preference of playing in midfield rather than what it truly was - a player simply stating where they feel most comfortable.

Of course, Maitland-Niles had to take accountability for dropping out of favour a month into Arteta's tenure as the head coach admitted to football.london that "Ainsley needs to put his head down, work hard and show me every day in training he wants it more than anybody else and that he wants to play for this club and fight for his place" in March.

Credit must go to him, however, for doing exactly that during lockdown and proving himself to Arteta all over again. The road back hasn't been easy, and he wasn't even a regular starter post-lockdown, but he could be counted on in the most high pressure moments, even when played in slightly unfamiliar positions, showing just how valuable a player he is at Arsenal.




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