Arsenal added another Emirates FA Cup title to their record haul, after a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang double sealed a 2-1 victory over Chelsea in the Final at Wembley.
The Gunners came into the Heads Up FA Cup Final with 13 titles to their name and this victory nudges the north Londoners further ahead in what was their 21st Final appearance, another Cup record.
While Wembley remained empty – the first time there’s been no crowd at an FA Cup Final in 132 attempts – the cheers from the Arsenal team and staff as they collected the Cup on the pitch made this perhaps the most unique title of their lot.
- Heads Up FA Cup Final
- Saturday 1 August 2020
- Wembley Stadium connected by EE
It was a first managerial honour for boss Mikel Arteta with the Spaniard having only returned to the club in January to take over from compatriot Unai Emery and having previously captained the club to one of those Cup victories back in 2014, he becomes the first man to both captain and manage an Arsenal team to an FA Cup title.
And Arteta can take plenty of credit in how his side ended what’s been an unprecedented campaign in football following the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as his team stuck rigidly to their game plan and exploited Chelsea in all the right areas to seal victory against their London rivals.
They had to show their resolve too, as it was Chelsea who started the game with a flourish and could easily have been two goals ahead within ten minutes.
Frank Lampard’s side began the game with bite and deservedly edged ahead after just five minutes through Christian Pulisic.
After collecting the ball from Reece James just inside the Arsenal half, the American threaded a pass through to Mason Mount on the left and when Mount’s low centre was back-heeled by Olivier Giroud in the box, Pulisic was there to pick it up and clip home past Emiliano Martinez.
Pulisic then stung the hands of Martinez moments later with a fierce strike from the edge of the area, as the Blues looked to build on their early advantage.
Arsenal rode the storm out and with Arteta vocally guiding his men from the sidelines, they soon turned the tide and the game back in their favour.
Nicolas Pepe had already seen a wonderful strike into the top corner ruled out for an earlier offside, and it wasn’t long after that when they drew level.
As per Arteta’s touchline call out, the Gunners took advantage of Chelsea’s high defensive line, as Kieran Tierney’s pass forward for Aubameyang saw the Arsenal captain outpace Cesar Azpilicueta and race into the box, only to be felled by the Blues captain.
Aubameyang remained calm to clinically slot home the resulting spot kick and ensure an entertaining first half ended all square.
Azpilicueta’s evening was brought to an early end shortly after that in a further blow to Lampard, himself looking for a first managerial honour, as the Spaniard limped off injured.
Chelsea were forced into another reshuffle early in the second half when dangerman Pulisic pulled up injured while running at the Arsenal defence and had to be helped off the pitch before he was replaced by Pedro.
It was midway through the second half when Arsenal edged ahead for the first time in the game, as Hector Bellerin’s driving run into the Chelsea half had the Blues back-pedalling.
The ball was released to Pepe, who slid a pass across the box for Aubameyang and after gleefully beating a committed Kurt Zouma, he calmly clipped a left-footed finish over Willy Caballero to add his second of the game.
Chelsea’s hopes of a response were further dashed with 15 minutes to go when Mateo Kovacic collected his second caution of the game, both for fouls on Granit Zhaka, and was duly sent off.
Ross Barkley, Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi were all introduced by Chelsea after that in a bid to claw their way back into the tie, but Arsenal never allowed their guard down and comfortably saw out the game to seal their moment.
For Arteta and his squad, the victory secures European football at the Emirates Stadium next season as well as another Wembley appearance at the end of the month for the Community Shield on Saturday 29 August.
Arsenal: 26 Emiliano Martinez (GK), 2 Hector Bellerin, 3 Kieran Tierney, 8 Dani Ceballos, 9 Alexandre Lacazette, 14 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (C), 15 Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 16 Rob Holding, 19 Nicolas Pepe, 23 David Luiz, 34 Granit Xhaka
Substitutions: 30 Eddie Nketiah for Lacazette 82′, 5 Sokratis for Luiz 88′, 31 Sead Kolasinac for Tierney 90+9′
Unused substitutes: 33 Matt Macey (GK), 11 Lucas Torreira, 24 Reiss Nelson, 28 Joe Willock, 57 Matthew Smith, 77 Bukayo Saka
Goals: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 28′ (pen) & 67′
Yellow cards: Dani Ceballos 73′
Manager: Mikel Arteta
Chelsea: 13 Willy Caballero (GK), 2 Antonio Rudiger, 3 Marcos Alonso, 5 Jorginho, 15 Kurt Zouma, 17 Mateo Kovacic, 18 Olivier Giroud, 19 Mason Mount, 22 Christian Pulisic, 24 Reece James, 28 Cesar Azpilicueta (C)
Substitutions: 14 Andreas Christiansen for Azpilicueta 35′, 11 Pedro for Pulisic 49′, 8 Ross Barkley for Mount 78′, 20 Callum Hudson-Odoi for Rudiger 78′, 9 Tammy Abraham for Giroud 78′
Unused substitutes: 1 Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK), 7 N’Golo Kante, 29 Fikayo Tomori, 33 Emerson
Goal: Christian Pulisic 6′
Yellow cards: Mateo Kovacic 15′ & 73′, Cesar Azpilicueta 27′, Mason Mount 45+4′, Antonio Ruduger 75′, Ross Barkley 88′
Red cards: Mateo Kovacic 73′
Manager: Frank Lampard
Referee: Anthony Taylor