Arsenal earned a record 14th FA Cup win in a comfortable manner, ousting London rivals Chelsea 2-1, thanks to a brace from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Our Gabon hitman did it again after his heroics against Manchester City in the Cup Semi-Final, scoring a penalty in the first half and his second was pure Aubameyang, shifting past Zouma and dinking a sumptuous finish pas Willy Caballero in the Chelsea goal.
Mikel Arteta has win a trophy in his first season at Arsenal, which will strengthen his attempt to strengthen this summer before the Premier League returns in little over a month’s time.
How did Arsenal win the game?
With character and tactical strength, as well as some discipline when needed. There was only one change from the side that defeated Watford in our last game of the Premier League, with Hector Bellerin returning to the side. That meant another start for Ainsley Maitland-Niles, which means he looks increasingly likely to stay at Arsenal.
The start of the game could hardly have been worse though.
Each team had an opening chance in the opening minutes – Auba heading well off the mark when well placed from Maitland-Niles’s cross – but Pulisic would go one better than his first attempt when, teed up by a Giroud backheel, Pulisic strode past Tierney and slotted home.
Pulisic had started very well, but Chelsea failed to act on their opening ten minutes and Arsenal grew into the game. Intrinsic to that was the runs of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and the omni-presence of Dani Ceballos. Both were causing Chelsea real damage, and we started to break through Chelsea’s rearguard frequently.
Aubameyang was the target and Chelsea were getting desperate. Some niggly fouls and a caution for both Matteo Kovacic and Cesar Azpilicueta were signals that Chelsea were struggling to cope.
Pepe thought he had scored as he curled home from outside the box, only for it to be called back for offside for a previous pass. It was unfortunate as it was a great finish, but Chelsea were still scrabbling to keep up.
That struggle became tangible, when again a lengthy ball over top for Aubameyang saw a footrace between our striker and Azpilicueta. The Spaniard employed some rough-arm tactics to stop our number 14. It saw Auba tumble to the ground in the box and ref Anthony Taylor award a penalty – a decision upheld by VAR.
Our striker dusted himself down and sent Caballero the wrong way and it was leve.
We had them on the ropes and our failure to take the lead may have had some Gooners worried that the old Arsenal rule of dominating but fail to score could come back to haunt us. Azpilicueta had to be subbed off with an injury and Frank Lampard could see his side under the cosh, but crucially, at half time, it was level.
The second half saw a fractious beginning. No real passing manoeuvres, plenty of lost possession and a contrast in pace to the first half allowed Chelsea to begin as the stronger team. They again relied on Pulisic to have the impact, and the USA international ran in on goal early on, but, shadowed by Holding, he tried to stab the ball past Martinez. His effort went wide and in the effort of getting a shot off, he twanged his hamstring.
Chelsea’s one real danger had gone off, and Chelsea once again didn’t make the most of their foothold, as Arsenal got back into the groove.
Chelsea had made changes but it didn’t change the rhythm of the game as we began to stretch out and give Chelsea problems again. Caballero wasn’t being tested but we were picking up some really dangerous positions – and in the 68th minute, we made the most of it.
Hector Bellerin rampaged through midfield and past a few startled Chelsea midfielders in the process. The ball and Hector parted ways and it fell for Pepe. The Ivorian passed across the width of the box to Auba and magic happened. He faced off with Zouma, dropped a shoulder and went past him like he wasn’t there. Caballero advanced out of goal and Auba dinked a delicious finish over the keeper.
It was entirely deserved and things got even worse soon after for Chelsea, after Matteo Kovacic, already booked, got another caution for a foul on Xhaka. Taylor sent him off and Chelsea were down to ten and needed a goal.
In the last twenty, we had a few half chances to put the game to bed but crucially, Chelsea had none. We were comfortably holding them at bay, but the impetus was to see the game out, rather than end the game. We did so successfully.
The final whistle blew and we had done it. The 14th Cup win was ours and our win also meant that Tottenham had to enter the Europa League through the preliminary stages rather than the group stage – another bonus!
What were the salient points behind our win?
World-Class wins games
Auba is among the finest strikers in the world. Finishing, consistency, all marks of the best. We simply must keep him. Big players swing games and Auba certainly did that.
Maitland-Niles Earns His Place
Xhaka, Mustafi, now AMN. The youngster had looked out of the club a few months ago, but he has earned the trust of Arteta and his judgement seems pretty sound. Maitland-Niles was again outstanding, especially in the first half and his future looks very clear now.
Ceballos a jack of all trades
The Spaniard is reportedly going to stay at Arsenal next year too – and this looks like great news. Ceballos was everywhere in this game. Tireless and effective. If he does stay, he will only be better than last season too.
That is it for this season. Our next game will be our first game of the Premier League in September but don’t worry, we will keep you posted on all Arsenal ongoings at The Arsenal Review.
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