Match Report: Arsenal 2 – 1 Chelsea

Arsenal (1) 2 Chelsea (1) 1

FA Cup Final

Wembley Stadium, Wembley, London HA9 0WS

Saturday, 1st August 2020. Kick-off time: 5.30pm

(3-4-3) Emiliano Martínez; Rob Holding, David Luiz, Kieran Tierney; Hector Bellerin, Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka, Ainsley Maitland-Niles; Nicolas Pépé, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Substitutes: Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lucas Torreira, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah, Sead Kolašinac, Matt Macey, Matt Smith, Bukayo Saka.

Scorers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (28 mins, 67 mins)

Yellow Cards: Dani Ceballos, Mikel Arteta

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 40%

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restructions

Make no mistake about it, today’s match is by far the most important game in which we have played in for a very long time indeed. We just simply have to win the FA Cup this afternoon, no ifs, no buts about it. After the season that we have just had, to win a piece of silverware would be a classic case of triumph over tragedy, and ultimately, a chance to get into European competition next season as worthy winners of this respected domestic competition a Wembley Stadium. We have a good chance of leaving Wembley Stadium as winners this evening. Let’s grab the opportunity with both hands!

Within two minutes of the start, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was unlucky not to score from a superb Ainsley Maitland-Niles cross, but three minutes later, Christian Pulisic grabbed the ball in midfield and slipped it to Mason Mount, who passed it to ex-Gunner Olivier Giroud, whilst Christian Pulisic carried on running and popped the ball past Emiliano Martínez to open the scoring for Chelsea. They put us under pressure for the next ten minutes or so, and if it wasn’t for the agility of our goalie, they may well have scored a second shortly after. Five minutes after the drinks break, Cesar Azpilicueta put a hand on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s shoulder in the penalty area, and the referee had no option but to give us a penalty, which our captain put away with some aplomb. Our equaliser kick-started us into life and we applied some considerable pressure on the Chelsea defence, and as a result, were desperately unlucky not to score on a couple of occasions, the best chance being Alexandre Lacazette, who blasted a free-kick wide literally seconds before the break.

The second half started with Chelsea bringing the game to us, but fortunately we were able to neutralise their play in the midfield area before they got close to threatening Emiliano Martínez’ goal. Fatigue and injury started to wear Chelsea down now, and again our confidence started to show with intelligent play and accurate passing through the Chelsea midfield. Nicolas Pépé and Dani Ceballos were absolutely immense, and both men were constantly giving Chelsea headaches as their creative and forceful play pulled their defenders out of position time and time again. Kieran Tierney was winning tackles for fun, and it was after one of these that the winning goal was scored. Hector Bellerin charged through the middle of the pitch, and in doing so, opened up the game. Although Andreas Christensen disposessed him, Nicolas Pepe quickly found Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the left of the area; he ran past Kurt Zouma as if he didn’t exist, and merely dinks the ball over Willy Caballero with his left foot, to score our second goal of the afternoon. A world class goal from a world class striker, worthy of any cup final any time, anywhere. Less than five mintues later, Mateo Kovacic was controversially sent off by Anthony Taylor for a second yellow card. Chelsea by now were completely demoralised, and when Mikel Arteta (who was also pointlessly booked by the referee) replaced Alexandre Lacazette for Eddie Nketiah in the eighty-second minute, and David Luiz for Sokratis Papastathopoulos six minutes later, the match was all but over. The seven minutes’ injury time was a fairly unremarkable affair generally, and as far as we were concerned, it was a case of just letting the clock go down until Anthony Taylor called time on the match, which he did, and we were the winners of the FA Cup for the fourteenth time, which is a record.

This was more than just an FA Cup Final victory for us today. It was a victory which meant that we can look forwad to the twenty-fifth consecutive season of European football next year in the Europa League, and more than that, it means that we can now cast this season off into the past where it belongs, and firmly look forward to the new season with renewed hope and optimism for the future under the leadership of Mikel Arteta, who has won a major domestic trophy in his first season at the helm. Well done everyone! Remember everyone, keep the faith in the close season, get behind the team and the manager, as next season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Steve

Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

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