Mikel Arteta clenched his fists and punched the air. His players summoned one last burst of energy to run into each other's arms. The final whistle had sounded at Wembley and with it came a wave of elation a
nd relief. Arsenal's gruelling season had ended on a trophy-winning high.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was their hero. Another match-winning double to follow up the one that took Arsenal past Manchester City in the semi-final - "big games require big moments from big players," said Arteta afterwards - but it's Arteta himself who deserves most of the credit.
The Premier League table does not reflect that progress, of course. Arsenal's lowest finish in a quarter of a century underlines the scope for improvement. But they are already a different proposition under Arteta. He has brought spirit and togetherness, structure and discipline.
It feels like something is stirring and it was all there to be seen at Wembley on Saturday evening. Arsenal's heads might have dropped after Christian Pulisic's early goal. That's certainly what happened after Chelsea's opener in Baku last May. But instead they produced what Arteta later described as their "best 30 minutes" since his appointment.
It was an impressive response and it was not the first time his Arsenal side have fought back from a position of adversity. ทรรศนะบอลวันนี้
In their previous meeting with Chelsea, at Stamford Bridge in January, they salvaged a draw despite being reduced to 10 men midway through the first half. They showed similar resolve to see off Sheffield United and Manchester City on their way to this final. In between those two games, they came from behind to beat Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium.
The belief has come flooding back, among the supporters as well as the players, and Arsenal's recent record against top opposition underlines the manager's tactical acumen. At Wembley, their improvement after his team talk during the first-half drinks break was no coincidence. It was not the first time his instructions have changed the course of a game either.
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