The time has finally come. Again. Chelsea and Arsenal take centre stage at Wembley in the FA Cup final for the third time. Arsenal have the historic advantage, having won the competition more times than any other team (13), but can Chelsea dig out that all important performance for when it matters most that we have seen so often in recent years. The last time these two sides faced each other in a cup competition was in the Europa League final in Baku last year, a fixture that Chelsea fans will remember forever, which included a dominant display from Eden Hazard in his last appearance for the Blues, and also featured a cameo goal from former gunner Olivier Giroud.
Both sides come into the game coming off the back of a victory on the last league game of the season, however Chelsea made it look a lot easier than Arsenal, with the Gunners just managing to keep Watford at bay. Arsenal are sure to have a vendetta as this is their last chance to secure European football for next season, after Mikel Arteta’s side missed out on Europe after Arsenal suffered their worst Premier League finish in over 20 years. This final will be the first time since 2012 that two managers will face each other after playing against each other for their respected clubs, with both bosses hoping to achieve the bragging rights as well as the lucrative trophy.
As mentioned previously, Arteta’s side have struggled for the majority of the season, and finished lower than both Chelsea and Tottenham, which is sure to be a significant blow to the sides confidence going into the game. Chelsea achieved a top 4 finish which surprised the entire footballing world, and the Blues will hope to keep the dream going for a little bit longer. Can Lampard be a thorn in Arteta’s side once more, or do the Gunners have what it takes to fight one last time.
Team news and press conference updates:
Frank stated in his press conference that N’Golo Kante and Willian are back in the squad, which is a huge boost for the Blues, as a player of Kante’s quality is missed greatly when he is absent, and Willians form since the restart has been exceptional which will also benefit the Blues. Disheartening news followed, as Ruben Loftus Cheek is out of the squad after picking up a minor injury in training yesterday. Frank expressed his feelings on the absence of the fans for the game, saying he expects a different game without them, and is sad they won’t be in attendance, but he aims to get his hands on the silverware on behalf of the fans and the club. He followed by saying he expects a very tough game against a side who showcased their ability in the semi final.
Lampard also said that his selection for the game will be difficult, as everyone wants to play in the final, but he hopes his team can stick together and try and win together. He also spoke from experience when he said “you learn more with every final you play in”. Lampard and his men will be hoping this is the first of many for his young side.
Players to watch:
Mason Mount: Mason has had an absolutely phenomenal first season at Stamford Bridge, and what better way to culminate it than at Wembley in the FA Cup final, playing for his boyhood club. Mount set the stadium alight in the semi final with a standout performance against Man United, which featured a wonder strike from himself that David De Gea failed to keep out. Mount also struck gold in the final Premier League game of the season, netting a free kick from nothing shy of 20 yards. The youngster will aim to carry this momentum through to the final, and will hopefully get his hands on some silverware for the Blues.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: The Gabonese international had a wonderful performance against Manchester City in the semi final two weeks ago, which included a brace from the striker. He also had an incredible season, given the circumstances of Arsenals poor finish, finding the net 22 times, just one short of the golden boot award. Arteta will hope that the Gunners see the best of Aubameyang in the final, as he is the sides best chance at securing the vital win.
Christian Pulisic v Hector Bellerin/Cedric
Whoever starts at right back for Arsenal will be sure to have their work cut out for them, as Chelsea’s “Captain America” has been in fantastic form since the restart, and the young man appears to have really found his feet at Stamford Bridge. The winger will hope to achieve glory in his first season in England, and will be a serious threat to the Arsenal defence, given his sheer pace and low centre of gravity that reminds Chelsea fans of a certain Belgian that haunted Arsenal fans for 7 years. Pulisic can however be matched at pace by Hector Bellerin, as the lightening fast defender can put up a good fight against Chelsea’s playmaker. Cedric on the other hand may struggle to keep up with Pulisic, but given the intense circumstances of the final, the Portuguese international may be able to get one up on the Chelsea winger. Whatever the outcome, this battle is sure to impress.
Frank Lampard becomes the 6th Chelsea manager to take the Blues to the FA Cup final in their debut season in charge, and will hope he can bring the trophy home to top off an already impressive season.
Written by Mash Greaves.