GLEN JOHNSON: Former Chelsea defender Glen Johnson previews The Blues’ FA Cup Final clash with Arsenal and suggests that The Gunners cannot afford to lose their star man, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
FA Cup Final
It’s clearly a huge game for both Arsenal and Chelsea, but I feel it’s a bigger for Mikel Arteta as opposed to Frank Lampard. Chelsea have had a brilliant season regardless of how Saturday goes given they’ve qualified for the Champions League for next season, whereas Arsenal have finished a long way back. If they were to win the FA Cup, I think their fans would take that and it would be a decent start to Arteta’s reign at the club. Trophies are always what determines a manager’s success, so to get one in his first few months in the job would go down well that’s for sure.
A trophy would be cherry on the top for Lampard
I do fancy Chelsea to win it, though, and if they were to I don’t think they couldn’t have dreamed of a better campaign. I’ve always thought they would make the top-four and it was great to see them achieve that. If they were victorious on Saturday it would round off a brilliant start for Lampard as a manager.
I think we were all surprised how quickly he got the job given how little managerial experience he had, but there’s no doubt he’s surpassed expectations dramatically already. He handles himself brilliantly and he’s really beginning to transform the club and they are beginning to put something really good together. They are building from the ground up and not solely focussing on the first 11 which is just the way a football club should be run. If they can keep progressing and Frank gets the players he wants, particularly in goal and defensively, they have all the tools to be very powerful.
Arsenal beginning to move in the right direction
There have been definite signs since Arteta took over that Arsenal are moving in the right direction. However, as we know it’s quite often two steps forward and one step back at the Emirates and that hasn’t really changed since he’s come in. They are progressing, but they really need to be more consistent in order to challenge the current top-four. It’s good to see him playing some of the younger players, many of whom look really talented, but alongside them they need the older players to perform better.
That comes down to recruitment which for a club of Arsenal’s stature has been poor in the past few seasons and they’ll need to get that much better this summer in order to bridge the gap. As things stand they are slightly better than a mid-table side and that’s because they only put on their best performance in one in three games and that lack of consistency is what costs them. They are too easy to play against and that’s what Arteta will be keen to address.
Decision time for Aubameyang
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s future is still up in the air and if Arsenal were to lose him, you’d have to worry for them. He’s world-class and those sorts of players are very tricky to replace. If you do find a suitable replacement, it’s not going to come cheap, so they’ll be desperate to keep hold of him. His goalscoring record speaks for itself and Arsenal have to keep hold of him whatever it takes.
He’s got to be considering moving on, if nothing else because of where he is in his career and where Arsenal are. He’s 31 and realistically Arsenal aren’t going to be winning the league within the next five years, so does he really want to stick it out basically knowing he’s not going to win the league before he retires? I’m not so sure. If one of the other big clubs came calling, I think he’d find it pretty tough to turn them down.
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