Nothing beats lifting silverware.
And for the 4th time in 7 years, Arsenal have finished the season with a trophy.
It was our worst season in 25 years the media gleefully told us at the end of the league campaign as we finished 8th – our lowest finish since 1994/95.
And then we go and lift the FA Cup and it was a glorious moment.
I would have been guaranteed a Wembley final ticket. What with my 60 something away credits.
Last week sadness hit as I realised I would not be making the trip to the final. So plans were put in place.
A dozen people turned up. The BBQ was on. The garden bar open. And a life time of memories created.
I will always remember the 2020 FA Cup final. Watching it with some of the greatest people in the world. Lads I have known for decades, been over land and sea with. Oh what a night!
Some might say that the result is “papering over the cracks”. But for me this is not a 2017 situation, where winning the FA Cup hid the slow demise of Arsenal under Arsene Wenger. This is a new start.
Mikel Arteta came in 8 months ago. Some loudmouths didn’t want him. “He just puts out Pep’s cones” they cried. They probably had their anti-Arteta tweets lined up in their drafts.
The victory of Chelsea shows just how far we have come since Arteta took over.
Arteta has shown we are a top 6 side who were coached poorly at the beginning of the season.
Taken into account we had a caretaker manager for 5 games, where we won just 5 points, to finish just 6 points off of 5th highlighted the improvement under the Spaniard.
We have beaten Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United under Mikel Arteta.
28 games he has been in charge for. We have won 57.14% of them. That is just a little shy than Wenger’s win ratio – 57.25 (incredible for 20 years at the club).
Yet people will still deny we have made progress under him.
Yes, we have had some disappointing results. Aston Villa and Brighton stick out. But it is easier to improve to beat the smaller teams than it is to beat the better ones.
Taking into account Arteta took over a team low on confidence, fitness and focus following Emery’s disastrous handling of the squad, what he has achieved in 8 months is incredible.
What is obvious on the pitch, during the drink breaks, is the players respect him. They listen to him. They buy into him.
You see it at Man City and Liverpool, the way the players celebrate with the manager. They see themselves as one unit. Arteta is the same.
The way he has dealt with the Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi situations is also remarkable for a man who is in his first senior job.
Whilst Bernd Leno, Shkodran Mustafi, Gabriel Martinelli and Calum Chambers were all at Wembley, crutches and all, Ozil and Guendouzi were no where to be seen.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles sums up Arsenal under Arteta.
You are either with the manager, putting 100% in training every session, or you are not. And if you are not, you do not play.
A few months ago Maitland-Niles seemed on his way out of Arsenal.
Questions about his attitude, about him demanding to play midfield. He had seemingly played his last game for Arsenal.
He kept his counsel, worked hard at training and was fantastic on Saturday. Likewise he was key against Manchester City in the semi-final.
Maitland-Niles deserves his FA Cup winners medal.
The same for Mustafi and Granit Xhaka. Two more players who have come back from the brink to become key performers under Arteta.
It is important that Arteta is able to keep the core of this squad together. That Pierre-Emerick Aubameayng signs a new deal. That Dani Ceballos is secured for at least another 12 months. Hopefully more.
And then we rebuild.
Get rid of those players who have not bought in to Arteta’s process, and replace them with hunger individuals. Players that want to achieve. Players who have the desire to play and improve. Players who want to join us on the journey.
But for now, we can all relax. Enjoy ourselves. No negativity. This is just the beginning for Arsenal under Mikel Arteta.
WE WON OUR TROPHY BACK