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Arteta: Cup win was a 'must' for the Gunners

Gaining European football key for boss to move team forward

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PIerre-Emerick Aubameyang showed his importance to Arsenal again

PIerre-Emerick Aubameyang showed his importance to Arsenal again

Getty Images

PIerre-Emerick Aubameyang showed his importance to Arsenal again

Mikel Arteta admits winning the FA Cup and qualifying for the Europa League was a "must" for Arsenal.

Despite finishing eighth in the Premier League, their lowest finish since 1995, the Gunners will still play in Europe next season following a 2-1 win over Chelsea in Saturday's FA Cup final.

While Arsenal now face a fourth consecutive season out of the Champions League, missing out on continental qualification altogether would have left Arteta in a difficult position.

Not only would it have been harder to convince his stars, including captain and FA Cup match-winner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, to stay but attracting new signings would also likely prove a challenge.

Asked about the importance of qualifying for Europe, Arteta replied: "I didn't want to add too much pressure to the players to be fair as I know how important it was as we needed to be in Europe.

"It is a must for our club and financially because it is a bigger step forward in order to allow us to do more things in the future and have a better structure financially.

"I am very pleased for both things - winning the trophy and having the option to play in Europe."

Growing

Arteta has seemingly been growing in confidence in recent weeks that Aubameyang, who scored both goals to cancel out Christian Pulisic's early strike for Chelsea, will sign a new contract.

Arsenal have also been linked with the likes of Thomas Partey of Atletico Madrid, a loan move for Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho and most recently Sevilla defender Diego Carlos.

Arteta revealed he has already passed his plans on to Arsenal's hierarchy ahead of a busy season, which is now set to begin with the Community Shield against Liverpool on August 29.

"I need to enjoy this moment first," he added.

"It is a big relief and I am really happy. We had some very demanding months so I need to switch off a little bit.

"I have presented my vision and my plans to them and all together we will try our best to get the club in the best possible position."

Arsenal will feel they have a generational manager leading them. At 38, Arteta is the youngest and most inexperienced head coach in the Premier League but arguably the one with the greatest potential.

The FA Cup final was just his 28th match. But that is not the air he exudes; that is not the way he carries himself or the maturity he shows.

That first game was away at Bournemouth last December, scraping a 1-1 draw, and Arteta will know all about the precariousness of the profession he is now in as not long after the final whistle was blown at Wembley it was announced that Eddie Howe - Mr Bournemouth - was leaving the relegated club. Aubameyang scored that day to avoid defeat and if he had not done so then Bournemouth would have stayed up and the striker showed his worth with two more goals on Saturday. Inevitably, the dominant theme after the Wembley showpiece was whether Arsenal and Arteta have done enough to make Aubameyang, out of contract next June, sign a new deal.

Delivered

Arteta has delivered. It is a start. European football will come as a relief for Arsenal although it again follows years in which they assumed the Champions League as their domain while a trophy for Arteta this early in his management will future proof him in a way that defeat in last year's Europa League final - against Chelsea - holed his predecessor, Unai Emery.

Arsenal director Josh Kroenke will have to play his part now. Arteta and Arsenal's technical director Edu have already drawn up a clear and detailed plan to overhaul and strengthen the squad - which starts with a new contract for Aubameyang - and the head coach's mandate to demand more has now become powerful with this triumph and the manner of it.