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Robin Van Persie ‘surprised’ by Mikel Arteta decision to leave Bukayo Saka out of Arsenal’s FA Cup final starting XI

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Mikel Arteta has left Bukayo Saka out of Arsenal’s FA Cup final starting XI (Picture: Getty)

Robin van Persie has questioned Mikel Arteta’s decision to leave Bukayo Saka out of Arsenal’s FA Cup final starting XI against Chelsea.

The versatile teenager has enjoyed a stellar breakthrough season and recently committed his long-term future to the north London club, ending months of uncertainty, by signing a new deal.

Saka has starred a full-back, wing-back and in his favoured position on the wing this term but will begin Saturday’s showpiece occasion on the bench.

Arteta will again utilise the 3-4-3 formation which helped Arsenal cause an upset in last month’s semi-final against Manchester City with Hector Bellerin and Ainsley Maitlaind-Niles selected at wing-back and record signing Nicolas Pepe retaining his place in attack.

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Commenting on Arteta’s decision, Van Persie told BT Sport: ‘ The last few games he hasn’t been playing which is a surprise to me because he’s been playing so well.

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‘He’s been the standout player the last couple of months he could play in different positions, he could play on the wing even full-back positions he did really well so it surprised me that he’s not starting.’

Arsenal will be hoping to secure their 14th FA Cup triumph and more significantly qualify for next season’s Europa League after missing out on European qualification through the Premier League.

 ‘It will be so special,’ said Arteta before the match. ‘Basically, for our players, our staff and our fans we know it has been a difficult season so it will be a great way to end it.

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‘It’s the history of this football club – the demands are so high. We have a chance to lift a trophy today so let’s go for it and the future will look so much better.

‘It’s what we have. At least we have the opportunity to play. It’s such an honour to be in this competition and in the final so let’s enjoy it.

‘This last week, they were all putting everything into every training session so it was hard to pick. We need everybody.’

MORE: Injured Shkodran Mustafi sends good luck message to Arsenal team-mates ahead of FA Cup final clash with Chelsea

MORE: Dani Ceballos hails Alexandre Lacazette as Arsenal’s de facto No.10 and likens forward to Karim Benzema

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