Arsenal will lock horns with Chelsea in the final of the FA Cup at the Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening.
The curtains will be drawn on the 2019/20 domestic cup campaign in England this weekend as Arsenal go head to head against Chelsea in an all-London FA Cup final at the Wembley Stadium, with both teams looking to end the season with silverware.
For Arsenal, it will be more than just silverware on the line, as a win on Saturday would earn them a place in the UEFA Europa League for next season, which they missed out on after finishing eighth in the Premier League. Mikel Arteta’s men saw off Manchester City in the semi-finals and will back themselves to come out on top again.
Chelsea, on the other hand, comprehensively defeated Manchester United to make their way to the finals. Having led the Blues to fourth in the Premier League, Frank Lampard will be eyeing his first-ever trophy as manager to round off what has been quite an impressive debut season at Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal failed to win in both their meetings against Chelsea in the 2019/20 Premier League (D1 L1). And ahead of their latest meeting in the cup final at Wembley, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Arsenal will once again be without Gabriel Martinelli, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari. Bernd Leno is unlikely to be available either, while Cedric Soares is cup-tied. However, Hector Bellerin is likely to be available for Saturday, after missing the Gunners’ final league game against Watford that ended in a 3-2 win.
Arteta played with a four-man defence against Watford last time out, but is expected to switch to a three-man backline that he used in most games post-lockdown. In Leno’s absence, Emiliano Martinez has done brilliantly in goal for the Gunners and should start between the woodwork this weekend.
David Luiz is a certainty in the three-man backline against his former club. The Brazilian will have Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney in support at the back, while the returning Bellerin and the ever-impressive Bukayo Saka slot in as the wing-backs on the right and left sides, respectively.
The two-man midfield axis of Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka has worked brilliantly for Arsenal in recent games. Arteta is unlikely to tinker with that on Saturday, with the former tasked with providing the creative outlet, while the latter holds the fort in the middle.
Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a brilliant brace against Watford last time out and is a certain starter on the left flank, while Alexandre Lacazette is likely to pip Eddie Nketiah for the centre-forward berth. Nicolas Pepe should get the nod on the right wing.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Martinez; Holding, Luiz, Tierney; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Saka; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Chelsea have been boosted by the return of N’Golo Kante, who is back to full fitness, while Willian has also recovered from an ankle problem to be available for selection. However, midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek misses out with a fresh injury. He joins youngster Billy Gilmour out on the sidelines.
Lampard took a major call in Chelsea’s final league game against Wolves, dropping goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga in favour of Willy Caballero. And the veteran Argentine is once again likely to start between the sticks for the Blues at Wembley.
Like his counterpart, Lampard is also likely to go in with a three-man defensive system, with Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Kurt Zouma starting. Reece James and Marcos Alonso, who looks much more at home in such a setup, should line up as the wing-backs on the right and left sides, respectively.
Kante’s return from injury could see him replace Jorginho from the two-man midfield. The Frenchman is likely to pair up alongside Mateo Kovacic and look to provide control in the middle of the park.
Mason Mount was in his elements in the previous game against Wolves and should hold his spot on the right wing over the fit-again Willian. Christian Pulisic should be a certain starter on the left given his current form, while Olivier Giroud is expected to spearhead the Chelsea attack against his former club.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Caballero; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger; James, Kante, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount, Giroud, Pulisic
- Arsenal have won both of their previous FA Cup finals against Chelsea – 2-0 in 2002 and 2-1 in 2017.
- Chelsea, though, have won their other two meetings in major finals, beating Arsenal 2-1 in the 2007 League Cup and 4-1 in last year’s Europa League final in Baku.
- Arsenal have reached the FA Cup final a record 21 times and have also won the competition 13 times – more than any other side. On the other hand, this is Chelsea’s 14th FA Cup final – only Arsenal and Manchester United (20) have reached more.
- Chelsea’s only win in their past nine FA Cup encounters against the Gunners came in the 2009 semi-final.
- Since his FA Cup debut in 2013, Olivier Giroud has scored 16 goals in the competition – only Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero has netted more.
Player to Watch
It took some time, but Chelsea’s signing of Christian Pulisic is starting to pay off in a big way. The USMNT international was slow to start off with, but has exploded in the second half of the campaign, especially since the restart post lockdown in June. So far, the 21-year-old has accumulated 10 goals and assists each in 33 matches in all competitions.
Pulisic’s performance off the bench against Liverpool in Chelsea’s penultimate Premier League clash showcased his array of abilities. If he is in his elements at the Wembley, an Arsenal backline, that has looked far from assured over the course of the season, will be in for a difficult outing.
Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea
Neither team has been convincing at the back, meaning there should be chances aplenty at Wembley on Saturday, making this one tough to call.
Arsenal, though, seem heavily reliant on Aubameyang to deliver the goods in the final third, whereas Chelsea can count upon the in-form trio of Mason Mount, Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic, while N’Golo Kante’s return in midfield will also be a huge boost.
That should give Frank Lampard’s men a slight advantage heading into the final of the FA Cup. And hence, The Hard Tackle is predicting a narrow 2-1 win for the Blues.