FA Cup final ‘difficult’ to win warns Arsenal star in London Colney

Mikel Arteta of Arsenal looks forward to meeting Aston Villa in the FA Cup final

Mikel Arteta of Arsenal looks forward to meeting Aston Villa in the FA Cup final - Credit: Archant

Arsenal star Mikel Arteta is “very enthusiastic” ahead of today’s (Saturday) FA Cup final at Wembley.

But when asked at a pre-match conference at Arsenal’s training grounds in London Colney whether he felt confident facing Aston Villa, the midfielder replied: “Confident? I don’t like that word to be related to a final, because you know how difficult it is to win a final.

“We are all very committed, we’ve been working really hard and we know what we want to get out of the last game of the season and we are really keen to play.”

He further downplayed his least favourite word by adding: “I think we are going to be favourites to win it you know [but from our] experience last season, you can’t take that for granted or in the wrong way. We’ve been really preparing for Saturday because we know what we facing.”

Arteta was also cautious about being part of today’s lineup for Arsenal, after taking months to recover from an ankle injury.

When asked whether he would be fit to feature against Villa, Arteta said that while he has been training with the team, “I will respect any decision [by Arsene Wenger on who plays on the day]. Everyone wants to be involved in the final.”

And he is looking forward to visiting the iconic Wembley stadium: “It’s a special occasion, as you walk on to Wembley on that pitch and you look around you, you know, wow, this is going to be difficult and it is going to take some effort to win so you can’t take it for granted.

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“We’ve been telling all the boys that haven’t been there or they don’t know about what the FA Cup means in this country, this is big, this is a big day.”

And his memories of winning last season’s final are still strong, with Arteta recalling: “The way we won was a big relief after everything we had been through in the last few years.

“I was really surprised with the support we had from the Arsenal fans, the following day, having [thousands of] people on the street, it was crazy and it was amazing and it was just the best example of how big this club is and how good supporters we have.

“It was a privilege to have the power to create a bit of happiness around the place.

“We really enjoyed it [but] to do it again is really hard. We are almost there. We have done the hard part, and [have played] some top games to get into this final.

“The final is a different game – we know that.”

Arteta expressed his keenness to remain at Arsenal, saying: “I will discuss my future after the final.

“It’s been a strange season for me since November - with my injury I’ve had some really tough times.

“But I have learned a lot. My aim is to be on the pitch as much as I can; that is what I’m working for.

“I would love to stay at Arsenal. The indication is that we are both very clear with what we want and will announce something after the final.”

Asked about negative comments in the press about the club and its boss, Arteta replied: “We have had some criticism, but they haven’t found a way to break that togetherness that we have.”

Assessing Arsenal’s progress over the last 12 months, Arteta said: “you can sense a different atmosphere around the club. The ambitions, I think are going to be different for next season.”

Looking ahead, Arteta said: “I think the club is in a really strong position as well to push because financially it is in a very good position.

“We have all the elements to move forward and to be challenging. I think we need to be demanding because I think we have the ability and what it takes to go ahead and set bigger targets.”

He added, though, that when it came to winning the Premier League, “it is up to the manager and the board to decide what is the missing ingredient. There is something we’ve missed.

“Whether it was [that] we didn’t have the full squad ready for the biggest part of the season with a lot of players out, whether we are missing the final bit of quality to win or deepness in the squad, I don’t know what it is.

“It is up to them to analyse that.”

• Arsenal V Aston Villa FA Cup final today (May 30) Wembley, 5.30pm