Arsenal can focus on the Premier League after losing the FA Cup

Manchester, England – Mikel Arteta has been quick to say he was “disappointed” after watching his Arsenal side get knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester City on Friday, but the feeling may not last long.

No manager wants to lose a game, but for Arteta and Arsenal this 1-0 defeat is certainly not the end of the world. Anything but. Five points clear at the top of the Premier League, the title is the priority. Arteta has rested key players at the Etihad Stadium, and with no more FA Cup matches to play this season, Arsenal’s fixture list (which still includes Europa League competition) between now and May is a little less daunting.

Those things are important when you’re on a compressed run, and if the Premier League Cup was on display in the Emirates this summer, no one would remember the cup defeat in Manchester in late January.

“At the moment, it’s a disappointment because we’re out,” Arteta said. “We could have taken a lot out of that game and we didn’t. Maybe when I watch it again tomorrow I feel like we really competed and made it really difficult for them, but we lacked something to win against a team like that.”

Arteta couldn’t really say anything else but if there was any doubt about his priorities he left the game with his team to choose. From the squad that beat Manchester United 3-2 in the league game last weekend, six of its players – Aaron RamsdaleAnd Ben WhiteAnd Martin OdegaardAnd Gabriel MartinelliAnd William Saliba And Oleksandr Zinchenko – They were selected on the bench in the federation. They will all be back when the league starts with a game at Everton next weekend.

If nothing else, it says something about Arsenal’s progress under Arteta that an FA Cup tie can be treated as a luxury. It had been 19 years since they last won the title, and during that time the trophy has been a welcome welcome relief for success. Since winning the Premier League under Arsene Wenger in 2004, they have lifted the FA Cup five times in 2005, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2020. A reason to focus on the bigger trophies.

The aim at the start of the season was to qualify for the Champions League but after a gap opened up at the top at the midway point there is now a feeling this race is too good an opportunity to miss. Arsenal fans seemed to agree, and despite making the long journey north from London to watch a much-changed team lose, they still sang Arteta’s name at the end.

Having started the season in such blistering form and already defying expectations about what might have been possible, Arteta has gained the benefit of the doubt. It might have been different had Arsenal suffered a crushing defeat – they lost their last game at the Etihad 5-0 in August 2021 – but for long stretches of the match they faced City, who started both Kevin De Bruyne And Erling Halland.

A comfortable win for Pep Guardiola’s side may have provided a sort of psychological edge ahead of the league match between the two sides at the Emirates on February 15, but despite City’s lead, it didn’t look like a clear win, of this sort. Which can sometimes swing in the title race.

The truth is that a weak Arsenal team was able to confront a strong City team at home, and if Arteta wanted to find the positives in defeat, there were many.

“I think it will be a very different match,” Arteta said when asked about the league meeting with City next month. “I’m sure on both sides and with different people too. We came here to win today, we couldn’t and hopefully the next game will be different.

“I have a lot of time to try, think and prepare for that game and Pep will have. We’ll review the game and try to do what’s best for us and nullify and create problems for the opponent as we always do.”

What all this means will only become clear at the end of the season. If City regain the advantage in the Premier League and go on to win the FA Cup as well, Arteta may be looking at the FA fourth-round tie and wishing he had picked a stronger side. But if in late May he’s on an open-top bus tour around London showing off the Premier League trophy, he couldn’t care less that there’s no cup race this season. Arteta hopes the days of relying on the FA Cup for titles are over. He has his eyes set on an even bigger prize.

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