DAVID SEAMAN knows more than most how cup glory can ease league misery.
After winning the old First Division title in 1991, Seaman and Arsenal went seven years before their next and even finished as low as 12th in that time.
Fans were appeased during those dark days by silverware — one FA Cup, one League Cup, and a Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994 which could have been two but for Nayim’s infamous lob over Seaman the following season.
The Gunners now find themselves in similar circumstances under Mikel Arteta, with last campaign’s eighth-placed finish smoothed over by a record 14th FA Cup triumph.
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And this year, as they lie 11th ahead of Sunday's visit of Leeds, their only hope of sealing Champions League football for next season will be through the Europa League.
But Arsenal legend Seaman — who lifted 12 trophies during his 13-year spell at the club — has urged boss Arteta to not allow the club to become merely a cup team.
Former keeper Seaman said: “Around 1993 we dropped off in the league but in the cups we were doing OK.
“When Arsenal are not challenging it is a bad season and we were well off it — and it wasn’t until Arsene Wenger came in that things started to change.
“And even then it took two years to win the league and the first Double.
It’s a dangerous game to play if you want to end your bad league form. You can’t just turn it on for the cup
“It’s maybe like what’s going on now. The team’s focus has changed towards the cups with the league out of reach.
“But it’s a dangerous game to play if you want to end your bad league form. You can’t just turn it on for the cup.
“You have to start building confidence in the league or you could be cut adrift.
“I like what I am seeing so far, the team just needs to be more consistent.
“We are getting performances and little runs, then we get beat and I think, ‘Really? We got beat by them?’.
Seaman remained a constant during the Gunners’ rebuilding phase in the mid-90s and he admitted: “At that time Man United were on a big run in terms of league titles and that determination to catch them and beat them was growing and growing.
“But my confidence took a massive hit in that period, from finishing mid-table in the league to losing to Zaragoza in the Cup Winners’ Cup final.
“And just like throughout my whole career, I always wanted to prove people wrong or shut them up. I always wanted to bounce back.”
Those qualities in the former England shot-stopper are exactly what Arteta will need if he is to wake Arsenal from their prolonged slumber.
They are on a run of three Prem games without victory and cannot fall back on the FA Cup this time, after the defending champions were knocked out by Southampton last month.
From what I see and hear he is the right man and he gives me confidence
It may only be February but Seaman feels the clash with Leeds is a must-win for the North Londoners.
A boyhood Leeds fan, the Rotherham-born star started out at Elland Road and remembers a day of mixed emotions in 2004 as Arsenal won the league as the Invincibles while United were relegated, sparking a 16-year absence from the top flight.
How times have changed, with Leeds now above the Gunners in the table.
With the likes of Frank Lampard being sacked at Chelsea for a similar drop in form, many see Arteta as the next in line to face the chop.
But Seaman believes the Spanish coach is the one to rebuild Arsenal just like Wenger did in 1996.
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He added: “He definitely needs to be given more time. He is slowly sifting through the squad, getting rid of players he knows he doesn’t want.
“The board need to back him in the summer window and he needs his own team. The players he has currently, a lot of them he has inherited so it is difficult for him at the moment.
“From what I see and hear he is the right man and he gives me confidence. I’d be disappointed if they did sack him, we have got a good one.”
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