Congratulations to Arsenal, then, FA Cup winners for a record 14th time. They’ll also play in Europe next season. Mikel Arteta’s first few months in charge of the club could hardly have gone better. Commiserations to Chelsea, meanwhile. It really wasn’t their day, though they’re another team on the right track, with much to look forward to next season. David Hytner had the job of putting everything into perspective, and here’s his report. Enjoy that … and thanks for reading this MBM. Nighty night!
A fair and honest appraisal by Frank Lampard. “We started well, scored a goal and controlled the game. And we can only blame ourselves from that point in football terms: we got complacent, playing short passes like it was a stroll. But a final can never be a stroll, and we let them back in the game. It’s hard to get yourself back in the game. We got back in the second half for big periods, but a lot today was on us. Today we were slow and invited pressure. We didn’t perform well enough to win a final. It all came together for us today, didn’t it? We were below par after the start, two hamstrings and a dislocated shoulder, Willian injured yesterday, Kante not fit, we’re at the end of a long, long season. I know everybody is, it’s not an excuse, but it felt like a tipping point today.”
Here’s the winning manager Mikel Arteta. “It was a difficult start. Sometimes you can go down. But if there’s something I know about this group of players, it’s that they weren’t going to give up. They reacted straight away and played the best 30 minutes since I arrived. We generated belief. Everyone worked extremely hard, and I am so proud to represent this club. It’s really important for this club to be in Europe, and winning this competition is part of our history. I want to build the squad around Aubameyang, I think he wants to stay but it’s about getting the deal done. We are on the right path and he is a big part of it.”
A highly amused Rob Holding talks to the BBC about Aubameyang’s slapstick shenanigans. “I saw him walking up with the bottom bit attached, and I’m like: you take that off! I think it’s the trend now for people dropping trophies, it seems to happen every year now.”
A unique final ends with a unique trophy presentation, the famous old pot being handed over down on the Wembley pitch. All of the Arsenal players are given their medals, then Aubameyang carefully takes the the FA Cup off its plinth … after a fashion, as he’s unable to separate it from its base … then drops both parts while preparing to raise them! David Luiz erupts in laughter, as does the captain himself, before picking up the bits and hoisting them into the air with a huge roar of happiness! Cup and base now most certainly separated, he raises the cup again in a much more elegant fashion. A somehow fitting end to the strangest of seasons!
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang speaks. “We are all happy. The manager deserves this win, he did a great job. We are all happy for him!” He doesn’t want to speak about his future, though, when asked by the BBC. “Nothing. Just today, the trophy, that’s it!”
Mikel Arteta races onto the Wembley pitch with a smile as wide as the Thames! His players celebrate in the grand style, having deservedly won this final, soaking up plenty of Chelsea pressure in both halves before wresting the momentum away from the Blues each time. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s winner was as delightful as his first-half penalty was cool. Mateo Kovacic should never have been sent off towards the end, though whether the decision made too much difference to the outcome is moot. Frank Lampard stands in stony silence. How different things looked when Christian Pulisic scored that wonderful opener. It’s fair to say that while Arsenal were the better team in the clutch moments, Chelsea had no luck today, with either decisions or injuries.
FULL TIME: Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea
The whistle goes, and Arsenal win the FA Cup for the 14th time!
90 min +13: Xhaka takes the ball towards the corner flag in the clock-management style. Then Tierney is replaced by Kolasinac.
90 min +11: Pedro is finally wheeled away, a painful end to Chelsea’s painful day.
90 min +9: This is so sad. This is Pedro’s last appearance in a Chelsea shirt, and what an awful way to leave the stage. He’s given oxygen as he’s loaded carefully onto a stretcher.
90 min +7: Pedro went down heavily over Martinez, and looks to have hurt his shoulder. It looks serious. Shades of Mick Jones in 1972, though at least the Leeds striker would get a winners’ medal that day after seriously hurting his elbow.
90 min +6: Aubameyang has been given the official man-of-the-match award. But his goals haven’t won Arsenal the cup. Pedro and Barkley probe around the edge of the Arsenal box. Pedro claims to have been barged over by Pepe, but it looked a legit challenge. Then Pedro goes again, chasing a speculative ball down the inside-left channel. Martinez comes off his line to claim.
90 min +4: James probes down the right. Aubameyang intercepts, then Nketiah takes over. It’s three on two, with Pepe also haring upfield, but Nketiah runs slap-bang into Christensen, hoping for a free kick he doesn’t get. Penny for the thoughts of Aubameyang, chasing history as he is.
90 min +3: Another easy claim for Martinez, this time from Pedro’s left-wing cross.
90 min +2: Some good work by Alonso wins a corner out on the left … but Martinez claims the resulting set piece with great confidence.
90 min: There will be seven added minutes. Can Chelsea find an equaliser? Or could Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang become the first player to score a hat-trick in the FA Cup final since Stan Mortensen in 1953?
89 min: Barkley is booked for overstretching and sticking his studs on Nketiah’s instep.
88 min: Luiz limps off, to be replaced by Sokratis. It’s a substitution Arsenal take their sweet time to make.
86 min: Luiz is down, holding his shin. On comes the physio. He might not be completing this match.
85 min: Chelsea are struggling to get out of their final third. Pepe swings one in from the right, but the flag goes up for offside, offering some brief respite for the Blues.
83 min: Tierney crosses low from the left. Rudiger shanks out for a corner. Arsenal work it out to Maitland-Niles, who curls towards the far post. Jorginho should let it float out for a goal kick, but eyebrows it out for another corner instead. He’s very relieved as Arsenal make nothing of it.
81 min: Nketiah comes on for Lacazette.
80 min: Jorginho clips a long pass down the inside-left channel. Abraham chases. Martinez comes out of his box, considers heading clear, then turns and claims with his hands. Abraham is convinced the keeper has handled outside his area … but the referee decides the ball was on the line. VAR checks and agrees. That was very close, though, and Arsenal hearts were in mouths for a second there.
78 min: Chelsea have no option but to roll the dice. Giroud, Mount and Rudiger are replaced by Abraham, Hudson-Odoi and Barkley.
77 min: James swings in from the right. Martinez does well to tip away from the danger zone, under pressure from Giroud.
75 min: Now Rudiger is booked as a throw-in somehow escalates. Mikel Arteta sees yellow too for getting involved in some sort of scramble. Chelsea need to calm down quicksmart, because as harsh as that sending off was, this is where they are now, and time is running out.
RED CARD! Kovacic (Chelsea)
73 min: Kovacic slides in on Xhaka, who goes over. The ref books Ceballos for asking the ref to flash a second yellow … then does what the Arsenal midfielder wanted anyway. A second yellow, and Kovacic is off. There really wasn’t much in that. Very light contact, and Chelsea are livid.
71 min: The game restarts. On the touchline, Lampard wears a furrowed brow. That goal came against the run of play.
69 min: And that’s drinks!
GOAL! Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea (Aubameyang 67)
66 min: Mount is seeing a lot of the ball down the left. He’s nearly sent clear by Giroud’s scooped pass, but settles for earning a corner. Mount swings it in himself. Zouma bangs into Tierney, and it’s a free kick, a chance for Arsenal to regroup.
64 min: Chelsea are slowly pushing Arsenal further back, and now much of the play is on the edge of the Gunners’ box. Mount very nearly dribbles his way through with a baroque run; then he nearly finds Giroud in the middle with a cute low cross from the left. Not quite, but Frank Lampard will be the happier manager right now.
62 min: Pedro tries to inject some vim with a determined dribble down the middle. He considers shooting, but turns down the half-chance and tees up James, tearing in from the right, instead. James wangs a wild effort high and wide.
61 min: It’s a much slower game now. Chelsea continue to pass, Arsenal continue to hold their shape.
59 min: Some more of the old Chelsea possession. None of it really worries Arsenal. This second half needs a spark.
57 min: Jorginho, quarterbacking from deep, pings a lovely long pass down the middle and very nearly finds Mount. Not quite. Arsenal go straight up the other end through Lacazette down the right. He rolls across the face of the box for Aubameyang, who tries to round Christensen with his first touch but takes an uncharacteristically heavy one. Xhaka tries to retrieve the situation with a long-distance blooter, but it’s hideously wayward.