WINNING the FA Cup will make Arsenal’s season a success — silverware is what it’s all about, after all.
But lifting the famous old trophy will not hide their failures in the league.
Back in August all the big clubs from Manchester United to Man City, from Spurs to Arsenal were aiming to win the league.
That was the stated aim. And quite right too.
Arsenal were saying that these players had learned from last season, were now more mature and all that.
So when you do not win the league you have failed in that objective.
And winning the FA Cup doesn’t change that. It can’t save your season in the league and you still have to analyse where you went wrong.
When I went on holiday at the end of the season and I’d won the FA Cup, I’d still be disappointed if we hadn’t won the league.
“At least we won the FA Cup?” No, no, no, no, no!
Yes, I’d be happy. I love the FA Cup. It’s amazing, more than amazing.
The history, Wembley, everything. I celebrated like a lunatic when I won it.
I was happy to win silverware. I would head into the summer on a high. It was something to hang on the wall, show friends or family. It meant the season was successful.
But it didn’t disguise the fact we’d not had THE success we set out for. So the summer would be spent thinking we lost the title.
And I guarantee all my Arsenal team-mates back then felt the same way.
As competitors we had not achieved what we set out to do. Lifting that famous old trophy wouldn’t erase that.
And the pain should be there. It should still hurt, it should not get better. You are making the pain of not winning anything better by lifting the Cup – but not the pain about not winning the league better.
Winning the FA Cup and finishing top four doesn’t save Arsenal’s season in the league, either.
That wasn’t the aim at the start of the campaign and you can’t alter your ambitions halfway through. You shouldn’t at clubs like Arsenal.
For Everton, winning the FA Cup and top four would be great. For City, United, Chelsea and even Spurs now, it’s not enough.
Flip it round. Do people ever say: “well, you won the league but what happened in the Cup?”
Look at Chelsea in 2015 under Jose Mourinho. They lost 4-2 in the FA Cup to Bradford — but they won the league.
Were people at the end of the season saying ‘yeah, well done on the league thing, but what about the FA Cup?’
If it worked that way, winning the EFL Cup would make up for not winning the FA Cup, and so on. But it doesn’t work like that.
You set out to win the lot and win what you can but nothing makes up for not winning something else.
Remember when Wigan won the Cup in 2013, beating Man City? It was, of course, a great day out for them — but they still went down and haven’t been seen in the Premier League since.
Did winning the Cup make up for relegation? I doubt it. Did it soften the blow? I hope not.
You are still coming back after the summer and playing in the Championship.
You can win a World Cup but if you don’t get a move you are going back to Championship football. That’s where you’re at.
It is true you can take momentum from one competition into another.
It will lift the self-belief, togetherness and confidence of Arsenal’s players if they beat Manchester City today.
It will be interesting to see if Arsenal play with a back three like they did in their 2-1 win over Middlesbrough on Monday.
A back three — or back five depending on who has the ball — raises the constant question about how high your wing-backs push up.
It will be fascinating to watch. And if they go all the way and win it, three FA Cups in four years will be a remarkable achievement for this generation of Arsenal players.
And it will be Arsene Wenger’s seventh — a record.
But that is the Cup and don’t ever under-estimate trophies.
But the shine of the Cup can’t hide the fact you didn’t perform in the league.