In just his 25th game as manager, Arteta staged a 2-0 victory – secured by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s double – which ended Manchester City’s title defense on Saturday.
It was a cup won in a hat-trick last season when Arteta was Guardiola’s assistant at City and fans were still allowed to pack their bags at the national stadium.
Only a few hundred key staff were allowed into Wembley for Saturday’s semi-final, as the 90,000-seat capacity was largely empty for the first time for a high-profile match due to pandemic restrictions in Classes. The north London stadium will be closed to supporters again on Sunday when Chelsea face Manchester United in the other semi-final.
“It’s very sad that we can’t enjoy this moment with our fans and enjoy watching the team and winning the final,” said Arteta, who replaced Unai Emery as Arsenal manager in December . “We have excellent chemistry. They really believe in what we are trying to do and you can feel it.
England’s top two teams have now been beaten by Arsenal in three days, with new crowned champion Liverpool beaten in the Premier League on Wednesday. But Arteta’s side are only 10th in the league, having lost to Tottenham in the North London derby last weekend.
Barely a month ago when the Premier League resumed its 100-day stop, Arsenal were beaten 3-0 by City in the Premier League. The semi-final was as one-sided as that night, with City enjoying more than two-thirds of the ball.
But Arsenal absorbed the pressure and punched City on the counterattack to end a seven-game losing streak as they were edged 20-2 by City.
“We did it because we were humble and we understood the way we have to play and we took the opportunity to score,” said Arsenal defender David Luiz. “It’s a good process, we have an amazing coach and he wants to bring us the best football but it’s not zero to 100.”
Unlike the Etihad last month, Luiz was a formidable barrier in central defense, rather than conceding a goal and being sent off.
“What he needs is that we trust him,” said Arteta. “He went through difficult times, then incredible times.”
City had just one shot on target – the lowest of a match since April 2018 – when Raheem Sterling hit goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez with level scores.
“We had two kinds of good early opportunities when we won the ball in front of Arsenal’s goal,” said City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan. “But after that our game was sloppy and slow and there was a lack of energy.
Arsenal’s opener was the product of an 18-pass move involving 10 players _ straight from Guardiola’s playbook. Aubameyang, who had just wasted a scoring opportunity, slipped past Kyle Walker at the far post to pierce Nicolas Pepe’s cross in the 19th minute.
Sterling had chances to level at the start of the second half, hitting widely in the opening minutes. But Aubameyang ensured the passage of Arsenal in the final in the 71st. Played by Kieran Tierney, the forward stepped in from the left flank and stuffed the ball between Ederson’s legs for his 25th goal of the season.
The FA Cup is the second trophy awarded by City this season after losing the Premier League title to Liverpool.
But City have already successfully defended the League Cup and can still win a brace. Guardiola’s team remains in the Champions League delayed by a pandemic, resuming next month with a 2-1 lead in the round of 16 against Real Madrid.
“We wanted to play in the (FA Cup) final a week before the Madrid game to get the pace,” Guardiola said, “but we missed that chance. ”
Second in the Premier League, City already knows that it will be in the Champions League next season after canceling a two-year European ban.
But winning a record 14th FA Cup could be Arsenal’s only path to the Europa League, given their 10th place and two games to go.
“If we are in Europe,” said Arteta, “that will help, obviously, because financially we will be stronger. ”
BURNLEY EYES EUROPE
Burnley still has hopes of qualifying for Europe after climbing to ninth place by beating Norwich 2-0 in Saturday’s only Premier League game.
Norwich, who has already been relegated, had two players sent off before Burnley took the lead.
Emiliano Buendia opted for a rough drive and Josip Drmic for an ill-chosen tackle before Chris Wood scored in the first half timeout. Ben Godfrey then transformed the ball into his own net in the 80th minute.
LEEDS DE CHAMPION
As Norwich collapses, Leeds returns to the Premier League after 16 years of exile. And the North of England team will be promoted to champion.
The league title was won on Saturday after Brentford, third, lost 1-0 to Stoke. It was the first trophy for Leeds since 1992 when it won the last edition of the First Division before becoming the Premier League.