Mikel Arteta has flung to the defence of manager Arsene Wenger, dismissing the "specialist in failure" claims made by Jose Mourinho earlier in the season.
The Chelsea boss mocked Wenger's nine-year silverware drought, but Arteta insists the Portuguese has no right to be critical, per the Daily Mail's Sami Mokbel:
If you analyse everything he has done for this club, if he is a failure — I have a different opinion. I don’t like it when someone criticises any of my team-mates, the staff, the manager, the club.
When they are right, maybe you can accept that everybody makes mistakes. But when he (Mourinho) comes in a certain way, I don’t like it. We don’t need to answer to anybody.
The Gunners take on Hull City in Saturday's FA Cup final in a bid to see that winless streak come to an end, almost a decade after they defeated Manchester United on penalties in the same competition.
Arteta is set to start against the Tigers at Wembley, but the club vice-captain has an uncertain future at the Emirates Stadium with just a year left on his contract.
Having defended Wenger against Mourinho, Arteta critiqued the club's policy of only handing short-term deals to players over the age of 30:
I don’t value players by age, whether it is Tomas Rosicky or Jack Wilshere. I analyse many other things before age. For the club, age can be an asset. For me, a much bigger asset is someone who has played over 125 games in three years, compared to someone who has played 25 and is 20.
I understand the club’s point of view: “Mikel is not a £25million player because he is not 22 any more”. But I know what I can give.
Looking at his current contract situation, it would seem likely that Arsenal could decide to either cash in on Arteta's signature this summer—while it still holds some value—or allow him to leave on a free transfer next summer, at which point he will be 33.
The former Everton playmaker has some reason to feel he still offers good value, even in his twilight years. The likes of Ryan Giggs (40), Andrea Pirlo (34) and Frank Lampard (35) would stand as evidence to the notion that there is life after 30.
The official Premier League Twitter account displays just what standards the Spaniard continues to uphold as an Arsenal player:
However, Arteta's attentions will be solely concentrated on the test to come at Wembley this weekend, where Steve Bruce's men threaten to upset the tournament favourites and wrest away the trophy that would, at this point, seem destined for North London.
Wenger is at the centre of some contract controversy himself, yet to put pen to paper on a new deal at Arsenal. Goal.com's Wayne Veysey claims sources close to the tactician have revealed he may consider his future should they fail to win on Saturday.
The competition's climax will unveil a new FA Cup winner, but in the process answer a raft of ifs, buts and maybes, with Wenger and Arteta just two of those currently without long-term solutions.
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