Lee Dixon believes FA Cup run would help Arsenal build confidence
Former Arsenal defender Lee Dixon expects new head coach Mikel Arteta to take the FA Cup seriously and believes he can use the competition to build more confidence at the club.
The Spaniard secured a maiden win in charge of the Gunners on New Year’s Day with a 2-0 victory over Manchester United in the Premier League.
Arteta’s next assignment will be the visit of Championship leaders Leeds on Monday in the third round of the FA Cup.
Dixon told the PA news agency: “It is more poignant now with the new manager coming in and it would be great for him to have a run in that to build some confidence.
“He has a lot of work to do at the club and a decent cup run would be something for him to build on and use it to play different players as well.
“I think he will take it seriously and it is certainly a competition he will be trying to win.”
Dixon won the FA Cup on three occasions with Arsenal and feels the tournament still holds a lot of prestige.
The Gunners beat Leeds in the fourth round, after a replay, on their way to success in the 1992-93 campaign, but the right-back remembers another handful of meetings with the Whites a couple of years earlier.
In the 1990-91 season, Arsenal played United four times in the FA Cup before a 2-1 win on the road with Dixon on target eventually put them through to the fifth round.
The 55-year-old said: “Make no mistake, if you ask any player who has been lucky enough to get to a final, they will say it was probably one of the best days they have had in football.
“It still has a lot of prestige for me and I’m always excited when the draw is made. This year with it being Leeds, it is even more important because we had those epic games with Leeds with the million replays – it seemed like the games would go on forever – so happy memories of that in particular.”
While Arsenal will enter the tie with more belief after their triumph over Manchester United, they will face a team full of confidence.
Leeds have been transformed since Marcelo Bielsa took over in the summer of 2018 and are on course for a return to the Premier League.
Dixon warned Arsenal they should do everything they can to win on Monday and avoid a potential replay.
“Without question Elland Road is the loudest I have ever played a football game,” he said.
“The atmosphere and not just the loudness of the fans, for some reason the way the stands are built the sound bounces off them and you can be five or 10 yards away from a team-mate and you can see his mouth moving, but have no clue what is coming out.
“It is ridiculously loud and if it does go to a replay, you can bank on Leeds making it a tough place to go and play.”