Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1

FA Cup Final

Aubameyang 28 pen, 67, Pulasic 5

Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 to lift the FA Cup at Wembley courtesy of a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang double. Aubameyang levelled after Christian Pulasic gave the Blues the lead, and having absorbed the initial pressure the Gunners levelled from the penalty spot. Kieran Tierney’s long ball out let the Gabon striker in on goal, that was until he was hauled back by Cesar Azpilicueta who was shown a yellow card. Aubameyang sent Willy Cabellero the wrong way to level from the penalty spot, as Arsenal finished the half in a positive frame of mind. Earlier, Nicolas Pepe had a goal chalked off before the Gunners’ leveller for an offside in the build- up, but Mikel Arteta’s side were in for the fight. When Matteo Kovacic was shown a controversial second yellow card for a foul on Granit Xhaka, referee Anthony Taylor gave the Croatian his marching orders. Azpilicueta had been taken off with a hamstring injury and the Blues woes were compounded when Pulasic pulled up with the same injury as he ran towards Emiliano Martinez’s goal.

 

Arsenal however were keeping their shape, and the three man defence of Rob Holding, David Luiz and Tierney matched Chelsea’s attacking intent, which included former Gunner Olivier Giroud. When Hector Bellerin charged out of defence, his progress may have been hampered momentarily by Antonio Rudiger’s challenge, but Pepe was on hand to take possession deep on the right. He spotted Aubameyang over on the left to feed him the ball. Faced with the presence of Kurt Zouma in front on him, Aubameyang switched to his left foot before curling a delicious lob over the advancing Cabellero for a 2-1 lead which sealed Arsenal’s record 14th FA Cup win.

 

The FA Cup Final may have been in front of an empty stadium, but the Arsenal players happiness and celebrations at seeing their captain Aubameyang lift silverware at the culmination of a very trying season will speak volumes for Arteta’s side. The Arsenal head coach saluted, Aubameyang and the victory, his first as a head coach and a trophy he won as an Arsenal player.
“Big games require big moments from big players, and he’s delivered that in the semi-final and he’s done it again in the final. That’s why you ask about those players. Some were questioning that he couldn’t do it in big games. There we go. He was a big, big part of delivering this trophy. He’s done it and we are so proud to have a player like him in our squad.”

Keen to tie Aubameyang to a new deal, Arteta was confident that he’ll keep his captain.

“I hope so. Everything is based on my conversations with him, how he sees his future, what I expect from him, the team that I want to build around him and the conversations I have with the people who are very influential around him. The club, we all respect and admire him, the players are all behind him. We know the players that we have and we have to value him. I think if we reach all of those points, we’ll make progress.”

 

Progress is the key word in all of that. Arsenal were a rudderless vessel when Arteta took over last December, and in the space of eight months he has remoulded his players, and made clear what he expects from each one of them. Everyone was shown a clean slate, and the way Xhaka has come back from an almost inevitable exit following his angry fan reaction against Crystal Palace was professionalism personified in a manner which Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi failed to grasp.

 

Having suffered the ravages of coronavirus which led to a March shutdown of the Premier League, the three month absence saw Arsenal return with signs of further progress with a few hic-cups along the way as losses at Brighton, Tottenham and Manchester City showed. Arteta did of course get his own back against City in the FA Cup semi-final 2-0 win, while the Emirates Premier league win over runaway champions Liverpool showed us a steely side which knows how the get the job done.

 

Arteta will savour the FA Cup win over the London rivals, and will look for backing in the transfer market to bring in the players he feels are needed for the club to push on. Silverware in your first season in charge is special, and Arteta, his side, and the Arsenal fans will now want to bring in more of the same.