Kieran Tierney, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stood out for Arsenal as they beat Chelsea 2-1 to win the FA Cup for the 14th time.
The game started on a horrible note for Arsenal, as Christian Pulisic finished off a fine move to put Chelsea ahead in the 5th minute. The Blues continued to dominate the early exchanges, but their London rivals gradually started finding a foothold in the game. When Nicolas Pepe saw his goal being disallowed due to offside, it was clear that Arsenal were in the ascendancy.
The Gunners duly hit back near the half hour mark, as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang won a penalty after being brought down by Cesar Azpilicueta before converting from the spot. Midway through the second half, Arsenal took the lead, with Aubameyang scoring a peach of a goal. Chelsea, on the other hand, had lost three of their best players by the 73rd minute.
While Cesar Azpilicueta and Christian Pulisic went off with hamstring injuries, Mateo Kovacic was sent off for a second yellow card. Arsenal ultimately held on to their narrow advantage to win a record-extending 14th FA Cup. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Mikel Arteta’s men.
Emiliano Martinez: 8/10
Another impressive display by Martinez, who has been incredible in the absence of Bernd Leno. The Argentine had more work to do with his feet than his gloves against Chelsea, but made a couple of impressive saves as well. Accurate more often than not with the ball at his feet, he completed 29 passes in the game. Pretty assured apart from a contentious moment in the second half.
Rob Holding: 7/10
Holding endured a difficult start to the game, as he struggled to cope with the pace and trickery of Christian Pulisic. Was always on the edge when the Chelsea winger ran at him and was dribbled past thrice in the game. Having said that, the youngster slowly grew into the game, winning 5 duels, making 3 clearances and completing 3 tackles. Could have done better when playing from the back.
David Luiz: 8/10
Like Holding, Luiz was not exactly bright at the onset of the game and did not do well to shut off ex-Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud. Thereafter, though, the former Chelsea defender found his feet, organising the Arsenal defence smartly. However, Luiz, too, ought to have been better with the ball at his feet. Still, a positive showing before he went off injured late in the game.
Kieran Tierney: 9/10
Another game, another performance that has seen Tierney grow in the Arsenal first-team setup. A sluggish moment when Pulisic scored was his only blemish in an otherwise perfect outing. The fact that the in-form Mason Mount was rendered anonymous for the most part was down to Tierney.
Kieran Tierney has now won a trophy in every full season of his his professional career:
🏴 2015-16: 🏆
🏴 2016-17: 🏆🏆
🏴 2017-18: 🏆🏆🏆
🏴 2018-19: 🏆🏆🏆
🏴 2019-20: 🏆
On average, he lifts a trophy every 19 games played. pic.twitter.com/wYAa9GCmlB
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 1, 2020
The Scotsman also continued making an impact with his long balls and it was one of his 8 attempts that found its way to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang before he won the penalty that was converted for the first Arsenal goal. A big season awaits Tierney in 2020/21, potentially.
Hector Bellerin: 8/10
Bellerin was a little slow off the blocks, although he still never let a dangerous Marcos Alonso overpower him. The Spaniard gradually grew into the game and supported Nicolas Pepe well in the final third.
Played a direct role in Aubameyang and Arsenal’s second, as it was his fine driving run that opened up play marvellously before Pepe fed his captain. Had a couple of interceptions to show for his efforts on the day as well. A step in the right direction.
Dani Ceballos: 8/10
On Saturday, there were not many spectacular moments from Ceballos. But, the Spaniard still did pull the strings well in the middle of the park when given the chance. It was Ceballos who released Bellerin for his run before Aubameyang scored Arsenal’s second in the game. Otherwise he made 84 accurate passes in addition to completing 6/8 long passes. Won 8 duels as well.
Granit Xhaka: 7/10
A dreadful start to the game saw him afford Jorginho too much time before Pulisic embarked on his run in the lead-up to Chelsea’s only goal of the game. Xhaka, though, soon found a foothold and did well to negate Chelsea’s threat for the most part.
The former Arsenal captain kept things simple for the most part and looked to shut off space instead of chasing after a Chelsea player. Made an important block on Ross Barkley late in the game and won 5 duels in all. Another job well done by the Swiss midfielder.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 8/10
Essaying a similar role to the one he did against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last month, Maitland-Niles produced another superb performance, this time against Chelsea. The 22-year-old defended solidly against the threat of Reece James, keeping a check on the Chelsea wing-back expertly.
Gradually started posing a threat down the left flank as well and linked up well with Aubameyang for the disallowed goal that Pepe scored. Another impressive aspect of his performance was his ball retention, something he seems to have worked hard on. Has the last month been a turning point for Maitland-Niles at Arsenal, having previously been linked with an exit?
Nicolas Pepe: 9/10
Pepe has constantly struggled to justify the money that Arsenal spent to sign him this season. However, the Ivorian has been slowly but surely been making his mark for the Gunners since the turn of the year. Against Chelsea on Saturday, Pepe produced perhaps his best performance yet in an Arsenal shirt.
While not in his elements early on, the 25-year-old got into the groove after the first quarter of an hour, with his crosses carrying a lot of threat. Pepe also produced a peach of a finish before his celebrations were cut short due to Aubameyang being offside in the build-up. Did end the game with a direct contribution, though, providing the assist for the second Arsenal goal. Top class.
Alexandre Lacazette: 7/10
Yet again, Lacazette failed to muster up a shot on target. However, this was another performance in which he carried a lot of influence off the ball. The French striker did well when dropping deep to add numbers behind the ball when Chelsea were in possession, winning 4 duels. Now needs to add goals to his game again; that is his primary task, after all.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 9/10
Well, what more can be said about Aubameyang that has not been already? The Gabonese always delivers when his team needs him most desperately. Against Chelsea, Aubameyang first won the penalty before converting it confidently to make it 1-1. The best moment, though, was when he scored his and Arsenak’s second.
🔴 Since Aubameyang’s debut for @Arsenal, he has scored more goals than any other @premierleague player in all competitions. If anyone deserved an FA Cup winner’s medal, it was him. Auba seized himself one in some style 👏 pic.twitter.com/3RqU3vQmnW
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) August 1, 2020
Collecting the ball from Pepe, Aubameyang showing incredible close control to get past the Chelsea defender and produced a brilliant finish to win the FA Cup for the Gunners. Since his debut, no Premier League player has scored more goals in all competitions than Aubameyang. Just where would Arsenal be without their inspirational captain? But, is he staying put at the north London club?
Eddie Nketiah: N/A
Introduced in the 82nd minute, Nketiah provided an injection of energy and freshness as Arsenal looked to see the game out.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos: N/A
Thrown on in place of the injured David Luiz, Sokratis did reasonably well in a rare appearance, although there was a contentious moment inside the box when Pedro went off with injury.
Sead Kolasinac: N/A
A late introduction, Kolasinac helped kill off the final seconds, as Arsenal beat Chelsea.