Mikel Arteta is beginning to work wonders at Arsenal FC and if the last seven days is anything to go by, Gunners fans should be very excited about the future.
A 2-1 victory over Champions Liverpool in the league was swiftly followed up by a 2-0 FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City at Wembley, which set up a tasty FA Cup final against London rivals Chelsea.
Both of these results have given us the early signs of Arteta’s ability to get the very best out of this Arsenal team and with a bit of patience and clever investment, the Gunners might just be on the verge of an exciting era ahead.
But there remains a bit of a dilemma for Arteta as he prepares for the final two games of the Premier League season and then the FA Cup final.
Tottenham’s 3-0 win over Leicester at the weekend significantly dented Arsenal’s chances of qualifying for the Europa League via a top-seven finish, meaning they may need to rely on beating Frank Lampard’s Chelsea at Wembley for a place in Europe’s second-tier competition next term.
Despite being one of the form teams in the Premier League and confidence being the highest it has arguably been this season, the Gunners will need to win both of their final two fixtures and hope all of Tottenham, Wolves, Sheffield United and Burnley lose theirs, which is highly unlikely.
With this in mind, Arteta may have a decision to make when it comes to squad selection in the league. Does he go strong in the league and go all out for the top seven, or does he rest a few big players to ensure they’re raring to go for Chelsea in the FA Cup final?
You would expect him to toy with the former plan, especially when you consider they’re playing relegation candidates Aston Villa and Watford in the league, both sides Arsenal should be able to beat with a slightly weaker starting XI than normal.
However, Aston Villa need all three points or they will be effectively relegated because of their inferior goal difference, and that means they’ll be prepared to throw everything at Arsenal. This represents a difficult proposition for the Gunners and Arteta’s planning ahead of the next seven days.
One thing we can be sure of is Arsenal being the favourites to win this with the bookies, but they’re still mostly odds against for all three points with a lot of bookmakers, which is both an attractive price for punters but also an indication of doubt that they’re guaranteed a win here.