FA Cup Final – Preview

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Arsenal face Chelsea in what will be remembered as a unique FA Cup Final – the first ever to be played without supporters in attendance. The game takes place on Saturday evening at Wembley Stadium, with a 17.30 kick-off.

Arsenal v Chelsea

With the Gunners finishing their Premier League campaign down in eighth place, they have so far missed out on a place in European competition next season. That might give them the extra incentive, as they will see this as a great opportunity to secure a Europa League spot next term.

Chelsea finished third in the Premier League following a final day victory over Wolves, so they will play in the Champions League next season. They remain in this campaigns UCL competition and may have one eye on their quarter-final second-leg fixture against Bayern Munich next Saturday.

Arsenal’s route to the final  

Arsenal are aiming to win a record fourteenth FA Cup in their history on Saturday and began their campaign back in January with a 1-0 win over Leeds United. The Gunners then beat Bournemouth 2-1, before another success on the coast when beating Portsmouth.

After the resumption of the season following lockdown, Arsenal scored in injury time to beat Sheffield United in the quarter-finals, before springing somewhat of a surprise by beating Manchester City in the semi-finals at Wembley thanks to a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang brace.

Chelsea’s path to the final

Frank Lampard’s men also began their FA Cup campaign in January with a comfortable 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest. The Blues then faced another Championship side in the shape of Hull City, winning 2-1 at the KCOM Stadium.

Chelsea then met Liverpool at Stamford Bridge and won 2-0, before edging past Leicester City after lockdown, winning 1-0 in the quarter-finals. They then faced Manchester United in the semis and an impressive performance saw them secure a 3-1 success at Wembley to set up an all London final against the Gunners.

Previous FA Cup Final Head-to-Head

This will be the first meeting between these sides in an FA Cup tie since they contested the FA Cup Final in 2017. On that day, an early Alexis Sanchez goal gave the Gunners the lead, one which they held on to until 15 minutes before time, when Diego Costa equalised for Antonio Conte’s Blues.

However, Arsenal would soon be back in the lead thanks to an Aaron Ramsey header, which sealed a 2-1 win and another FA Cup honour for the club, and it would mark Arsene Wenger’s last trophy success with the Gunners.

Team News

Mikel Arteta is set to have a strong squad available to him for the game and will hope Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette can continue to carry the threat for Arsenal in front of goal. Could this be the stage that Nicolas Pepe shines on?

It will be interesting to see how Frank Lampard approaches the game, knowing they have a trip to Bayern Munich coming up in the Champions League. He might be tempted to rest some players after a gruelling few weeks, but as they are 3-0 down from the first-leg, Lampard might see this game as his best opportunity of winning a first major honour as a manager.

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