English FA cup : Win or burst for Arsenal

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Arsenal have already won the FA Cup a record-setting 13 times but never has victory at Wembley been so important to the Gunners than against Chelsea on Saturday.

Should they lift the trophy for a 14th time at the weekend, and earn themselves a spot in next season’s Europa League, they will give themselves some breathing space and some extra cash to work with during what is going to be an incredibly challenging summer transfer market.

Lose, however, and Arsenal will miss out on European football for the first time in 25 years and finances, which are already at breaking point, will be hit even further.

The Europa League may not bring with it the riches of the Champions League but it still provides a vital source of revenue for a club that in February announced a loss after tax of £27.1 million ($34.8m) for 2018-19, their first operating loss since 2002. And that was before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Now, just a few months on, Arsenal are feeling the pinch due to Covid-19 like everyone else. Analysis carried out by the Arsenal Supporters Trust predicted that the club would lose a mammoth £144 million ($178m) for the year 2020-21, should the whole of next season played behind closed doors.

The lack of matchday revenue, which provides 24 per cent of Arsenal’s annual income, is a major concern as is a £230m ($302m) wage bill, which continues to hang like a dark could above the Emirates.

So the importance of victory on Saturday can’t be underestimated. When Arsenal reached the final of the Europa League in 2019 they pocketed close to £35m ($46m) worth of prize money. That’s what beating Chelsea this weekend could be worth.

Coach Mikel Arteta, who desperately wants to revamp his squad this summer, knows exactly what is at stake and so do his players; so much so that the Spaniard has not even had to mention the consequences of losing at Wembley.

There’s no need to talk to them about that,” said the Spaniard. “They are aware of it.

“I don’t want to add any extra pressure onto them in terms of that. They are preparing really well this week, they look ready to go and what they have to drive them forward is the energy and ambition to grab that cup at the end of the 90 minutes.”

Arteta can only look longingly at the tools Frank Lampard is being given to attack the 2020-21 campaign.

Even if Arsenal win on Saturday, Arteta will not be handed anything like the budget Lampard has at his disposal, but it will at least allow him to pursue some of key his targets, which include Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey.

We need to add certain things,” “But we have the ability and the possibility to win a trophy so that tells us that we are close.”Arteta admitted

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will lead the Gunners out at Wembley with his future very much up in the air.

Arteta confidently stated on Friday that he did not believe the final would be his captain’s last match in an Arsenal shirt. “I don’t have those thoughts,” he said.

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