Arsenal Football Club and the 2020 English FA Cup

By Emmanuel Ojeme

BENIN-CITY/Nigeria: On August 1st, 2020, history was made at the Wembley Stadium in London, England, at the final game of the English F.A. Cup between Arsenal F.C and Chelsea F.C. Prior to his game many followers of English football had concluded that Chelsea F.C. would come out victorious and carry the day. And so the two teams squared up on the day and with early game bravado, Chelsea F.C. scored its first goal in the 5th minute of the game. This early goal may have suited and fitted the pre match positions and predictions of its outcome which was tilted in favour of Chelsea F.C. Why? Possibly due to Chelsea F.C’s collection of very expensive players and previous game performances. As the game of this 2020 F.A. Cup final progressed, it was emerging from the pitch dynamics of the day that Arsenal F.C. was not on the field to handover the trophy to anyone. At the final whistle, Arsenal F.C. won the game with a 2 –1 goal margin. I watched the game from the beginning to the end and I wish to bring up the significance and lessons of the outcome of this F.A. Cup final that ended in favour of Arsenal football club. The victory of Arsenal F. C. on the first of August 2020 meant that it has won the F.A. Cup for the 14thtime since its inception in the 1871 and 1872 season. Taking this trophy at the expense of the more favoured club, Chelsea before the game was played meant that the actual outcome of a game may not be correctly known until it is over. Furthermore, it proved that every game of football comes with its own peculiarities and projections 2 from previous games may not be helpful.

Most people have been persuaded to predict Chelsea’s victory based on (1) The galaxy of stars paraded by the club. (2) Performance records in the 2019/2020 league season which showed Chelsea’s superior placing over Arsenal on the League table. It is true that Arsenal has manifested not too impressive performances all season under reference. Secondly, the composition of the Arsenal team was characterized by mostly non-headline players. Then, while did Chelsea lose on the day? Did Chelsea come into the game with the right game psychology? Did it show clear appetite and clear killer determination? Chelsea’s undoing may have been its underestimation of Arsenal’s game imagination and fire in their bones to go home on the day as victorious celebrants. Arsenal on player to player comparison may be less than Chelsea, but the former had higher optimization of the strength and gamefulness of the players on parade. Mr. Arteta, the Arsenal coach certainly is not a push over. He led the team on the occasion with definite game plan and strategy which was executed by the players who also believed they can do it. Arsenal arrived at the event with a record of climbing mountain Kilimanjaro over mighty Manchester City in the semifinals. That showed pre-game potential and firing of a warning shot to Chelsea. Did they learn a thing from the semi-final outcomes? Very doubtful and hence, it may have gone into the finals over confident. Perhaps this was Chelsea’s greatest undoing. We must be reminded at this juncture that victory in football may not necessarily be the preserve of the billionaire clubs.

3A club can enter the football market and purchase all the headline footballers but this strategy may not translate to trophy. For some critical sports philosophers who dwell on the normative values of sports, it is important to also give value to:

  1. The fighting spirit in a club.
  2. Talent development and optimization of performance on the field of play. 3. Self-belief prevalent in the team.
  3. Capacity to keep the faith and focus on vision and mission.
  4. Consistency of organizational philosophy of the club.
  5. Creating a platform of an organization that enables young people to find meaning and purpose in their own lives and careers.
  6. Adherence to sound ethical values and practices in club dynamics. Arsenal F.C. is octane in these values. Congratulations Arsenal F.C. for keeping hope alive. You write the club off at your peril. Well done boys! Now, carry your game capacity to next level in the years ahead.

Prof. Emmanuel Ojeme EMAIL:

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