Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta has not spoken to Arsene Wenger ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final – but his former manager may have played an indirect role in preparing the Spaniard for his first shot at silverware.
With seven FA Cup wins to his name, Wenger is the most successful manager in the history of the the world’s oldest cup competition.
Arteta was club captain for two of those wins and has a chance to collect his first trophy as a manager when the Gunners face old foes Chelsea at Wembley.
The 38-year-old only took charge at the Emirates Stadium in December for his first taste of a top job, having previously worked as assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
He may not have tapped into Wenger’s wealth of FA Cup-winning knowledge leading into the final, but Arteta revealed the Frenchman has been on hand to offer guidance since his appointment.
“I have been in touch in the last few months a few times with him but not before the final,” he said.
“It is private conversations but it is great to have him on board, he gives you great advice and just talking to him – he has got such a knowledge and he is such an intelligent person – that just knowing he is there and he is going to be supporting us and supporting me, I feel calmer.”
Asked if Wenger, who now works as FIFA’s chief of global football development after his 22-year Arsenal reign ended in 2018, was the doyen on everything about the club Arteta added: “I think in the football world.
“You can talk about anything with him. You just have to learn, get the book out and take some notes.”
While advice on winning trophies is helpful, it is likely that Arteta has picked Wenger’s brain on how best to deal with keeping hold of his key players.
Captain and top goalscorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored both goals in the 2-0 semi-final win over Manchester City but has less than a year to run on his current contract and could leave for free next summer.
The Gabon international may be lifting the FA Cup on Saturday and Arteta is hopeful that such an experience, and the bonus of European qualification, could help secure Aubameyang’s future in north London.
“I think that has a strong link with everything that you want to experience as a player,” he added. “The fact that winning a trophy helps to really believe and feel – ‘wow, I want more of those moments’ as well.
“If you are wearing the armband and you are able to lift that cup, it is such a moment and this is going to help for sure.”
“It’s a package at the end. You need to have a lot of ingredients on the table to persuade a player of his level to be at this football club.
“Don’t forget he still has a contract here with us, we want to keep him and do it more long-term. But at the moment he is with us and I think he should be really proud of where he is as well.”
Rob Holding is likely to start the final after Shkodran Mustafi was ruled out following hamstring surgery but that could prove to be the only change Arteta makes from the side that beat City in the semi-final.