Arsenal won a record extending fourteenth FA Cup as they beat Chelsea in an absorbing final at Wembley. Gunners talisman Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang was the hero with both Arsenal goals, following up a fantastic performance in the semi-final.
Despite Arsenal’s eventual 2-1 triumph, Chelsea started the brighter of the two teams with the electric Christian Pulisic clipping the Blues into the lead in the fifth minute, after a lay off from former Gunner Olivier Giroud.
The first half settled into a favourable rhythm for Arsenal
However, after an end-to-end start, the first half settled into a favourable rhythm for Arsenal, who kept the pressure on Chelsea throughout. Aubameyang scored his first of the game, a penalty, after 28 minutes. The Gabonese forward was fouled by Cesar Azpilicueta as he raced into the box, with the Spaniard extremely lucky to escape a red card.
The second half was tight and well contested. It took a moment of genius from Aubameyang to break through Chelsea’s defence before chipping goalkeeper Willy Caballero for his second goal of the game. It proved to be Arsenal’s golden goal.
Delight for Arsenal
The last article that I wrote about Arsenal was a scathing one. After months without football, I couldn’t wait to see my team back in action – only to be disappointed by dismal defeats at Manchester City and Brighton. There was no fight, no desire and no quality.
However, the FA Cup final capped off a rather remarkable turnaround in Arsenal’s fortunes in the last month or so. This result follows on from superb team performances in wins against Premier League Champions Liverpool and former FA Cup holders Manchester City.
Arteta’s superb tactics were on full display; his team showed aggression
This game followed a similar trend to both of those mentioned: Arteta’s superb tactics were on full display, his team showed aggression, desire and fight and his strikers, led by Aubameyang, were ruthlessly clinical.
Mikel Arteta’s first trophy after just half a season as a manager is something truly special for the Spaniard to savour. He is slowly but surely turning the culture at Arsenal on its head. The signs all point towards a winning Arsenal team in the future. An Arsenal team to be proud of.
Arteta and Arsenal’s priority should be clear as day: get Aubameyang to sign
Arteta has shown what he can do with an underwhelming squad. The boss deserves an enormous amount of credit – and he deserves financial backing from those above him so that he can secure the players that he wants to help improve this Arsenal side.
Before any acquisitions though, Arteta and Arsenal’s priority should be clear as day: get Aubameyang to sign a contract extension. His contract is set to run out at the end of next season and the Gabon international is far too important, too ruthless and too special for this club to lose.
Lampard’s Chelsea fall short
On the contrary to Arteta’s delight, an excellent debut season for Frank Lampard at Chelsea ended in disappointment as his side fell just short at Wembley.
Key players Willian and N’Golo Kanté were injured and couldn’t play. On top of this, during the game itself, captain Azpilicueta and goal scorer Pulisic were withdrawn with nasty hamstring injuries, whilst Pulisic’s replacement, Pedro, suffered a shoulder injury.
Lampard felt further misfortune as midfielder Mateo Kovacic was given a second yellow card after 73 minutes for an innocuous-looking challenge on Granit Xhaka. Once Chelsea were down to 10 men with Arsenal 2-1 up, the final was more or less decided.
Lampard would have taken without hesitation a fourth-place finish
Although a trophy eluded Chelsea this season, I’m sure that, at the start of the season, Lampard would have taken without hesitation a fourth-place finish in the league and an FA Cup final appearance.
The young (in managerial terms) Englishman can be proud of what he and his team have achieved in a season where no one expected them to do well.
The future is bright
Regardless of Saturday’s result, the future is bright for both Chelsea and Arsenal. Both clubs have intelligent and hungry managers at the helm who are in charge of extremely talented, youthful squads with bags of potential. With the right signings and the right coaching, both clubs should be just fine in the years to come. The trajectories for both of London’s premier sides look wholly positive.
However, as we come to the end of an unprecedented domestic football season, we must recognise that this is Arsenal’s moment. Arsenal’s FA Cup. Their 14th in this historic competition. Gritty, determined and classy performances are exactly what Arsenal fans crave and their team is starting to deliver such displays consistently in the biggest of games.