Arsenal will take one last shot at qualifying for European football next season as they face Chelsea in the FA Cup final – live on talkSPORT.
The Gunners finished eighth in the Premier League, three points behind rivals Tottenham, who took the second and final Europa League spot.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck twice to down Man City at Wembley in the semi-final
Beating the Blues on Saturday in the 5pm kick off, though, would propel them into the same competition – and force Spurs to go through a qualifying stage.
It would also give them a fourth FA Cup win in seven years and take them to 14 wins overall, the most of any team in history and put them two ahead of Manchester United.
It’s a big task for Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and failure could have big ramifications with no European football seeing them miss out on around £40million.
The cash is vital as the coronavirus pandemic and no fans in stadiums see revenues drop for clubs and the result could see the Gunners forced to sell some of their star players before they can buy new players to refresh the squad.
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For now, though, Arteta must do all he can with the tools at his disposal as he seeks to land Arsenal silverware and Europa League football.
And throughout his tenure he’s been getting advice from an FA Cup master – Arsene Wenger.
Wenger won the competition an astonishing seven times in his 22-year spell at the club and from 2013 to 2017 he won it three times in four years.
And Arteta reckons his guidance since taking over at the Emirates have helped him keep a cool head.
“I have been in touch in the last few months a few times with him but not before the final,” he said.
Arsenal’s last trophy came in 2017, when they beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final under Wenger
“It is private conversations but it is great to have him on board, he gives you great advice and just talking to him – he has got such a knowledge and he is such an intelligent person – that just knowing he is there and he is going to be supporting us and supporting me, I feel calmer.”He added: “You can talk about anything with him. You just have to learn, get the book out and take some notes.”
talkSPORT’s FA Cup coverage starts at 2pm Saturday live from the Box Park on Wembley Way
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Arsenal team news
Hector Bellerin is facing a race against time to be fit for the FA Cup final.
The Spaniard missed the Gunners’ last game of the season because of a calf complaint with Ainsley Maitland-Niles starting the win over Watford as a result.
Elsewhere, Bernd Leno is back in training but at the moment is unlikely to be fit for the clash, while Shkodran Mustafi is now confirmed as out as he recovers from the hamstring injury he picked up in the semi-final against Manchester City.
Other long-term absentees are Calum Chambers (knee), Gabriel Martinelli (knee), and Pablo Mari (ankle).
Mesut Ozil will also miss the final as he is currently in Turkey, according to football reporter Chris Wheatley, along with Matteo Guendouzi who reportedly won’t be involved.
Emiliano Martinez has impressed since coming into the team for Leno
How Arsenal should look against Chelsea
It’s likely manager Arteta will return to the 3-4-3 formation he has done for other games with sides who also operate with three centre-backs, as the Blues often do.
Cedric Soares is the more experienced option at right wing-back but cup-tied so should Bellerin be absent again Maitland-Niles is the only choice to replace him.
Sead Kolasinac is likely to be in the team as the left-sided centre-back, this allows Kieran Tierney to continue his excellent support of Aubameyang from wing-back.
Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka should continue their blossoming partnership in midfield, while Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette should complete the attack.
This would mean talented youngsters Eddie Nketiah and Bukayo Saka only make the bench despite impressing this season.
Is this how Arsenal could look in the FA Cup final against Chelsea?