FA Cup Final preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea
Anytime Arsenal and Chelsea square off, entertainment is expected. But when the matchup is for hardware, which is on the line Saturday in the FA Cup Final, the rivalry intensifies.
FA Cup Final: Arsenal vs. Chelsea
Sat, August 1 2020, 4:30 PM
The two London outfits staked their claim in the final by defeating the clubs from Manchester two weeks ago.
Arsenal stunned Manchester City, 2-0, which reversed the fortune of a 3-0 loss a month earlier, behind a pair of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goals. Despite having only 30% of possession in that match, Arsenal made its chances count and put all five of its shots on goal. The clean sheet is also the only one Arsenal had over its last six matches in all competitions.
The Blues rolled past Manchester United convincingly, 3-1. Olivier Giroud scored in first-half stoppage time, while Mason Mount scored less than a minute after the restart.
Chelsea has been a bit of an enigma, but one thing has been consistent —goals are being scored in their matches. In their last eight outings, six have seen at least three goals scored.
These clubs enter with their lead strikers in terrific form. Giroud has scored eight goals in his last 11 appearances, including four matches in a row. All four of those goals were first-half stoppage time strikes. He has scored a goal in each of his last six matches started, and in eight of the last nine where his name appeared in the starting 11 for Chelsea. He found the back of the net in the 2-0 win over Wolves in their last match, putting the contest away just before halftime.
Aubameyang has been the star man for the Gunners. He has been on a tear since the restart and came just short of sharing the Golden Boot in the Premier League. In his last seven starts, he has found the net in four, with seven goals and two assists during that span. In his last match against Watford, he scored twice in the first half and set up Arsenal’s other goal in a 3-2 win. The first came just four minutes into the match from the penalty spot.
In their previous two meetings this season, each match saw at least three goals scored. A 2-2 draw in January followed a 2-1 win for Chelsea in December. They also squared off for the Europa League Final in May of 2019, when Chelsea rolled, 4-1.
Neither defense has been outstanding this season. Arsenal’s David Luiz conceded more penalties this season (five) than any player in Premier League history, while Chelsea benched their keeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, in the season finale for backup Willy Caballero — who will retain that spot in the final.
Over the last few weeks, Chelsea has looked like a more solid team at both ends of the pitch, and with confidence restored in goalkeeping, it will be willing to take more chances. American winger Christian Pulisic is in great form, and will be key in the attack.
Arsenal, on the other hand, cannot figure out its defensive woes. While the Gunners took down Manchester City, the Citizens looked quite pedestrian, lethargic, and like they had no desire to win. That will not be the case with the Blues, as first year manager Frank Lampard will want to win silverware for the club he became a legend at.
Look for Chelsea to win the trophy, in a match that should see plenty of goals.
FA Cup free picks: Chelsea ML (+110), Over 2.5 goals (-120), Chelsea win/both teams score (+270), Olivier Giroud to score anytime (+150)