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Football Insights – FA Cup Final

Football Insights – FA Cup Final

The 2019/20 FA Cup Final takes centre stage on Saturday as Arsenal take on Chelsea at Wembley. Arsenal are the most successful club in FA Cup history with 13 wins, the last incidentally coming in the 2016/17 final when they defeated the same opponents Chelsea 2-1. Former Gunners and Chelsea stars Kevin Campbell and Frank Sinclair give their insights exclusively to Genting Casino ahead of the showpiece.



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Kevin Campbell

Arsenal finished the season in 8th position – how do you assess the early impact that Mikel Arteta has had at the club? 

 Mikel Arteta inherited a difficult situation as the third manager of the club within one season, which is crazy for Arsenal, but I’d give him 7/10 so far.

Obviously, it's not his team, but he's made the best of what he could do. The first thing is to try and change is the mentality and the culture at the football club, which sometimes is the hardest thing to change. 

I think expecting Arsenal to all of a sudden change into this wonderful team in the league would have been too much to ask, but we can see signs of life and we've seen Arsenal perform so Arteta’s point is getting across. I’d give him a seven out of 10 for what he's done so far, because the mentality has changed and he's improving players.


 How big an achievement would winning the FA Cup in his first season be for Mikel Arteta – especially if he does so by beating Manchester City & Chelsea?

Winning the FA Cup would tell the owner and the fans that they have a manager who is a winner and what he has already implemented is working. When you look at both squads, Chelsea have spent a lot of spent a lot money, they’ve got a lot of top players and they integrate a lot of good quality youngsters into the team. 

Then you look at Arsenal, they’ve been destroyed and haven't performed also got to the final pitch before with Chelsea and they didn’t turn up and Chelsea were worthy winners in that.  There's a lot riding on this game from an Arsenal point of view and Arsenal really need to step up to the plate and perform to win.


How do Arsenal best get at Chelsea this weekend? Where will be the key areas if they are going to lift the trophy?

Strategy will beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final. If they play open football against Chelsea, I think Arsenal will lose the game. But the strategy that Arteta chose against Manchester City, where you have a very long block and defended deep, then the strategy meant Arsenal caught them on the break. 

I think that's the key to winning in this game. Arsenal have the best striker on the pitch in Aubameyang and as long as they give him the opportunity and they defend well, I think Arsenal have a really good chance of winning this game.


How important is it that Arsenal win the FA Cup in instilling hope back into the club and fans?

It’s important to win trophies, especially for Arsenal who are such a winning mentality football club and who have won the most FA cup, ever. To win another one would not only cement Mikel Arteta’s planning and implementation of what he wants to the team to do, but it's also another bit of silverware for the fans. 

I think that's really important in the scheme of things especially when there's a transition at the club, and if you still win it during a transition, you've got half a chance of really improving.


Only Ozil and Xhaka remain of the 2017 squad that beat Chelsea in the FA Cup Final – is that level of squad churn part of the reason Arteta has such a rebuilding job on his hands? 

The 2017 team were serious underdogs – they had the likes of Sanchez, Oxlaide-Chamberlain, Walcott, Giroud and Ramsey and a lot of good players, but Chelsea were the Champions.  When you look at the Arsenal squad now, it's changed beyond belief, and Arsenal are still not up there challenging in the Premier League. 

To be able to get across the line and win a trophy with this group, I think would be a really remarkable achievement for Arteta. But it would also cement that what he's doing is the right thing to do.


Whilst a trophy would be welcome, given the rebuilding job Arteta needs to do, is there an argument that Arsenal might be better off without the distraction of Europa League football next season? 

Avoiding the Europa League is a very valid argument, but if you if you do get the European qualification then you have to take it. However, we've seen it happen with Liverpool and Chelsea, where they have missed out on Europe in one season and that the new managers have been able to coach the team and implement what they've wanted. 

Then the team have only gone from strength to strength once they've been allowed to do that.

Once you are in Europe, the season is kind of off balance because you play Thursday and Sunday. So that's a harder route, but brings extra funds into the football club. And we all know that these football clubs need funds to get players in.

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Frank Sinclair

Chelsea

How big of an achievement is it by Frank Lampard to secure Champions League football in his first season – especially since he arrived with a transfer ban, had lost Eden Hazard and had to blood a lot of youngsters? 

When you take into consideration the transfer embargo and losing (for me) the best player in the Premier League with Eden Hazard going to Real Madrid, it’s been an incredible achievement. Champions League would have been the remit at the start whether it was a realistic aim or not, he's shown that it is absolutely the case. 

It's terrific for him to do that and blood in some of the younger players, I think he's given nine Academy players the opportunity to play this season in the first team, which is incredible. He’s mixed in those youth players with the experienced players that he has had to choose from too. So. it’s been a brilliant achievement by Frank.


How big of an achievement would winning the FA Cup be for Frank Lampard in his first season?

Winning the FA Cup would be excellent for Lampard. Chelsea are used to winning competitions and they’ve got very good history with the FA Cup going back to the 90, so they are used to bring in a trophy home. If Frank can add that to the Champions League spot as well for his first season as a manager in the Premier League, that’s terrific.


Can this Chelsea team realistically challenge for the title next season? Where do they need to strengthen to make this a realistic aim? 

There's a 30-point deficit that Chelsea would have to catch up on to win the title, so it’s not going to be easy. The standards that Liverpool have set this season are incredible and Manchester City are still a top side as well. 

I wouldn't say this Chelsea side could do it, but with the players that are being linked to club and the signings that Chelsea have already made, I think they'll get a lot closer. Whether they'll bridge that gap completely, we'll have to wait and see.

Leicester

How big a disappointment is it for the Foxes to miss out on Champions League football after being in the top 4 for the bulk of the season? 

Missing out on Champions League is a massive disappointment for Leicester after sitting in and around the top 4 all season long and then being pipped to the post by Manchester United and United’s form since the restart. 

But they also have to look at themselves and say that their form and the results that they've had since the restart have not been good enough and that's what's cost them. At the same time Leicester’s progression since winning the Premier League a few years ago to now, is improving all the time. They’re becoming a regular top six side and Brendan Rodgers has to take some credit for that alone.


Could this have been Leicester's best chance at Champions League football, given the struggles of the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham?

This isn’t Leicester’s best chance at Champions League football – I think they will be competitive again. They will raise standards over the summer transfer window and I think Brendan Rodgers will be looking to improve. 

He will know that Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal, will get better in the summer for next season. So he will be looking to improve his squad and the standards and make a challenge, and I don’t see why they can’t do that again. 

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