The FA Cup Final is almost upon us.
Arsenal, as the most successful team to have competed in this famous competition, have a record to uphold and hopefully, improve on.
That involves the Gunners beating Chelsea at Wembley this weekend.
The last time we lifted the trophy, we did just that, a late goal from the now departed Aaron Ramsey secured a 2-1 triumph over the Blues – but things are very different now.
Both teams have a new manager – with more than one or two in between the new bosses respectively – and in terms of players, both are virtually unrecognizable, save for a few select players on each side.
Here on The Arsenal Review, we are looking closely at the impending season saver for Arsenal and how we can mastermind another win. Yesterday we looked at the midfield battle between Granit Xhaka and Jorginho.
It’s the potentially disastrous match-up of Chelsea’s explosive Christian Pulisic and Arsenal’s former Blues defender, David Luiz.
On paper, this could well be where it falls down for Arsenal. Luiz has given away four penalties this season in an Arsenal shirt – a Premier League record. The Brazilian can have moments that absolutely change a game for the worse – Man City post-lockdown anyone?
He can also perform heroics too. For our FA Cup Semi-Final victory over the same team, against the odds? Luiz was magnificent and repelled everything. In fact, his aerial duels, tackles and clearances were all clocked at 100%. He was unpassable and City had no answer.
The problem is, we have no idea which Luiz will show up. What we do now, is that he will play. With Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari and Shkodran Mustafi all injured, it’s a straight selection between Luiz, Holding and Sokratis – and the Greek defender hasn’t played a minute since football returned after the lockdown.
That will have American attacker Pulisic rubbing his hands together. Luiz struggles when you run straight at him – Mo Salah can attest to this – and Pulisic is best with the ball at his feet. He ripped apart Manchester United in the other Cup Semi-Final and Harry Maguire and co had no clue how to stop him.
Pulisic is also hard to pin down and often drifts wide to receive more of the ball and stretch the spaces so runners can take advantage. Giroud will be looking for the space created at the front post – as we all know as we’ve seen him do it a number of times in our red and white – but it will be down to Pulisic snaring a defender and creating that pocket.
Luiz needs to stay tight on Pulisic when he is central – and he will need to communicate effectively with whomever full-back is shadowing him.
The most important aspect of our battle with Pulisic is to defend as a unit, rather than singular aspects. We did just that against both City and Liverpool when we defeated them so we know we’re capable.
Let’s hope it is one of our good days – and one of Luiz’s too.