Chelsea play Arsenal in the 139th FA Cup final. What should you look for as Frank Lampard and Mikel Arteta will be look to win their first trophy?
The Blues wrapped up top four on Sunday after beating Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. A goal and an assist for Mason Mount put the cherry on top on what has been a good debut season as manager for the Blues record scorer.
The domestic final in North West London will be the 139th in the history of the competition. Chelsea has played Arsenal twice this season. Lampard is unbeaten against Mikel Arteta, winning 2-1 and drawing the other game at Stamford Bridge 2-2.
There will be talking points ahead of the tie. Who starts? Who will be utilized, and who will mark the prolific Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang?
Between the sticks
Kepa Arrizabalaga has been in inconsistent form all season. The record £71 million goalkeeper has been criticized ever since his move to Stamford Bridge in 2018. Things have turned sour. Willy Caballero, the original second choice, has been given the nod on several occasions this season after starting 12 games.
Ironically, Arrizabalaga was dropped after his performance against Arsenal in January after Hector Bellerin scored a late equalizer. The goal was weak and Lampard made the decision to bench the Spaniard. The number one eventually got his place back after starting nine out of the final 10 Premier League games of the season.
Willy Caballero started the FA Cup semifinal against Manchester United. His impressive, dominant, and vocal performance meant he kept his place for the penultimate game of the season on Sunday against Wolves.
Due to the Argentine starting the last two games, he is likely to get the nod in the final ahead of Arrizabalaga. But what does that mean for the Spaniard’s future?
The Brazilian winger missed out against Wolves due to a minor injury. The FA Cup final could be his last ever appearance in blue. Why is this significant? It is rumored that his next destination could be the opponents, Arsenal.
There is no doubt that he has gave his all for Chelsea since his arrival in 2013, choosing the West London club over Spurs, but could his body language, his reaction at full time, show if he will ever play for the club again?
It could be the perfect send off, or from an Arsenal perspective, the worst welcome, if The Emirates is going to be his destination.
Despite this potentially being his penultimate game for Chelsea, he may not start. The same 11 that started against Wolves could be the opted approach. Christian Pulisic came back into the side after Willian dropped out with injury with Mount opposite the American.
Nullifying the Gunners’ threat
The defense has been an issue all season for Lampard. A consistent partnership has never materialized. Chelsea has conceded 54 goals in the Premier League this season, the highest in the top 10.
Kurt Zouma, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, and Fikayo Tomori have been rotated all season in the center back positions. Even Cesar Azpilicueta can be added to this list, who has played at the right side of a back three.
The former two in the list will start against Arsenal, along with the captain in a back three. The power, pace, and physicality will make it hard for the Gunners’ No. 14. If Chelsea can stop the prolific striker, the chances of winning a ninth FA Cup will rise.
Aubameyang will certainly fancy his chances on Saturday. The Gabonese forward netted 22 goals this season in the league, one behind golden boot winner, Jamie Vardy.
The back three nullified Manchester United in the semifinal, and kept the likes of Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore quiet in the final Premier League game of the season. They can do it again with the right focus.
What are you looking for in the final? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter!