Mikel Arteta admits his next challenge is to stop Arsenal from being just a cup team.
Gunners boss Arteta lifted the FA Cup in his first season in charge and remembered fondly lifting the trophy as an Arsenal player.
Those cup successes were major turning points for the club as back in 2014 Arsene Wenger’s side saw off Hull City to win their first trophy in nine years.
Arteta then pulled off a hugely impressive win over Chelsea last summer to secure a European place and also win the FA Cup for a record 14th time.
They now face Southampton twice in four days and Arteta admits that a bigger test for any team is to be consistent and reach “crazy” levels over the course of a season.
Arteta said: “The first time I won it was one of the nicest moments. It was nine years that the club did not win a trophy.
“The unity we created that year, everybody was putting pressure on and wanted to do it because it had been so long. We all wanted to do it for Arsene as well because he really protected all the players.
“It was one of the biggest satisfactions, as a group to deliver that to the club, and you could see the reaction of the fans on the parade the following day, and for Arsene as well I think it was a moment of gratitude from all the players towards him.
“When we beat Chelsea last year it generated a lot belief among the team that we could compete against any team.
Mikel Arteta’s Gunners have been starved of title glory for a while now – but things could be changing as a new-look Arsenal side plot a course to success.
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New signings Gabriel Magalhaes and Thomas Partey have hit the ground running following their big money summer arrivals, and the new-look Gunners are going all out for a top four spot and Europa League glory this term.
The Mesut Ozil situation continues to hang in the background and there’s plenty going on in North London to keep abreast of.
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“The team were having a lot of difficulties in the last five years to win against top teams, we did it in big sequences against them.
“It was just a step, to do it consistently now for 10 months is a completely different story.
“But it was great and personally to deliver that to the club, in a really difficult year when we started with this pandemic, just to be able to provide some happiness to the fans is what the job is all about, just to make some people happy and proud of what we do.
“You have to train to win every single day, to be better, to pay attention to a lot of details, to try to improve in every aspect of the game, and to take your level to excellence.
“In the last three years I think the winning probability of a team was about 45 per cent. Now the big teams is about 70 or 75 per cent.”
Arsenal last played Southampton in December while stuck in a rut, at one of the lowest points and yet dug out a draw at the Emirates when Arteta was under serious pressure.
Now they are in a different mindset for back-to-back trips to St Mary’s and, while Arteta only had good words for the departing Mesut Ozil and Sokratis, he must surely have a healthier dressing room.
Ozil and Sokratis were big characters, big earners and yet were not even registered to play – and Arteta says the club cannot make the same mistake again on contracts.
Arteta added: “You don’t want to get into this position again, that’s for sure. Not for the player, not for the club.”