The curtain comes down on the English football season as two familiar London rivals, Arsenal and Chelsea, go head-to-head at Wembley in the FA Cup Final this afternoon.
The Gunners knocked out holders Man City in the semis, whereas the Blues had to get past Liverpool, Leicester and Man United on route to the final.
Good day one and all.
This hasn’t been an easy season for Arsenal at all; winning just four of our first 15 Premier League games had us at a real disadvantage. But since Mikel Arteta’s arrival mid-season, we have seen a steady upturn in performances. However, the lockdown put a real dent in our momentum with results since the restart not completely satisfactory. This saw us finishing just outside the European qualifying spots in 8th-place.
So it all comes down to this; one game that could transform a disappointing campaign into a moderate successful one, with entry to next season’s Europa League. One game that could be the difference between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang extending his Arsenal stay other not, one game that could be the difference between getting a shiny new toy, or promoting from within.
The Gunners do have pedigree when it comes to reaching the finals in the FA Cup and will hope to continue that trend today. However, the Blues are as prolific when it comes to playing in finals, but hopefully Baku is the furthest from our lads’ minds.
Frank Lampard was appointed at the start of the season with the club under a transfer embargo and having just sold their talisman Eden Hazard. Considering he guided his young side to top-four and reaching the FA Cup Final, he has done remarkably well in his maiden season.
However, that will not be enough, because with this their only chance at silverware, winning the Cup will be as important to them as it is for the Gunners.
Chelsea are unbeaten in their two league meetings with Arsenal this season (W1, D1). Interestingly, both matches were played with Arteta and Lampard in their respective dugouts. The Blues’ 2-1 win at the Emirates was Arteta’s first home game in charge. At Stamford Bridge it was very different with the Gunners showing real grit to come from behind twice after going down to 10 men in their 26th minute, to draw 2-2.
So this is the start of a new chapter in the battle between two rookie managers looking to win their maiden trophy in the Cup they lifted as captains.
Arteta used a 3-4-3 formation in the 2-0 win over Man City and is likely to go with that again, as well as a similar looking lineup. Though with Mustafi injured, Rob Holding once against get the chance of starting in the final of this competition.
Hector Bellerín missed the Watford game with a calf issue but was back in full training. So too first-choice goalkeeper Bernd Leno; however, Arteta has already confirmed that Emi Martinez will start between the sticks.
No two teams have had more success in this famous old trophy than these two since the turn of the century.
This, of course, will be the third time in the last four seasons these sides meet in a finals, with varying success. With Chelsea finishing the league season 10 points better off than the Gunners, one would assume them having the edge, but it is Arsenal that have the love affair with the FA Cup in recent times … so this could be a very closely contested, low-scoring, yet very entertaining match. COYG!