Mikel Arteta admits he speaks fairly regularly with Arsene Wenger, to get advice and support in his new role, but not ahead of the FA Cup final.
Mikel Arteta is currently in the latter stages of preparing for his first FA Cup final as a coach. Arsenal take on Chelsea on Saturday, in a huge game for the club.
Chelsea are a sizable favourite over Arsenal – somewhere between 1.65 and 1.59 according to Sports Betting Dime – because they are simply the stronger team at the moment. Not only did Chelsea more than double the Gunners’ goal difference, but this season the Blues generated chances at a significantly higher rate, with an xG rating second only to Man City. They were unlucky not to finish higher than fourth in the Premier League table.
Arteta has already won the competition twice as a player, though, under the management of Arsene Wenger.
Unsurprisingly, this led to questions from journalists about Wenger ahead of the final. Arteta denied having any contact with his former coach in the immediate build-up to the match, but he admits they’ve spoken to each other one more than one occasion recently.
“I’ve been in touch over the last few months a few times with him but not before the final,” Arteta said. “It’s a private conversation. It’s great to have him on board and he gives me great advice. Just talking to him, you know?
“He has such a knowledge. He’s such an intelligent person. Just knowing that he’s there and he’s going to be supporting us and supporting me, it makes me feel calmer.
“I think you can talk about anything with him and you can take the book out and make some notes.”
We know that Wenger doesn’t currently have plans to return to the Emirates Stadium, as he dedicates himself to his work with FIFA. But we also know he still watches Arsenal and follows the team’s progress.
Rather than falling out of love with his old club, it’s just a case of not wanting to be a distraction. Wenger just has such a huge legacy at Arsenal. Whenever he turns up in the stands it’s going to be a talking point. Better to give his advice to Arteta in private.