Three things we learned from the FA Cup final


London (AFP)

Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brace in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

AFP Sport takes a look at three things we learned from the Wembley clash:

Irreplaceable Aubameyang

In what could be his last game for Arsenal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has shown why the Gunners must do everything in their power to keep Gabon ahead.

The 31-year-old is without a contract at the end of next season and has been linked with a move amid reports he wants to play for a Champions League club.

Coach Mikel Arteta insists Aubameyang wants to stay, but he also conceded that winning the FA Cup would be a useful way to show him the club are going in the right direction.

Arsenal did their part and it was Aubameyang who provided the crucial tip.

The first African player to start an FA Cup final as captain, Aubameyang became the second oldest player to score for Arsenal in the showpiece.

With Arsenal lagging behind Christian Pulisic’s early goal, Aubameyang’s meteoric break left Cesar Azpilicueta behind in its wake.

Azpilicueta responded by tugging Aubameyang on the shoulder and the forward took advantage of the contact as he tumbled into the area to win a penalty which he sent with ruthless efficiency.

Aubameyang won the German Cup with Borussia Dortmund in 2017, scoring the winning goal from the penalty spot.

Once again he would be the star, but this time it was his talent and improvisation that proved decisive as he passed Kurt Zouma and scored a nice finish on Willy Caballero in the 67th minute.

Chelsea crippled by Pulisic injury

Christian Pulisic had become a key figure for Chelsea since the coronavirus hiatus, but a day that started on a high for the US winger ended in agony.

It’s been that kind of hectic season for Pulisic, whose first year with Chelsea started slowly amid injuries and poor form before breaking out.

He was on the scoresheet after just five minutes, with his 11th goal of the season.

Drifting into the central midfielder to gain possession, Pulisic slipped a precise pass to Mason Mount and continued his run into Arsenal’s penalty area, where he took the blow from Olivier Giroud and passed Emiliano Martinez.

Pulisic was the first American to score in the FA Cup final, but disaster struck in the 49th minute when he pulled away for a shot that was interrupted when he felt his hamstring thrust- leggings.

Immediately grabbing the injured area, Pulisic was helped off the pitch.

Without Pulisic’s pace to keep Arsenal’s defense on the back foot, Frank Lampard’s side were starved in the final third as the trophy slipped away from them.

Arteta reinforces its growing reputation

Mikel Arteta bolstered his reputation as one of the Premier League’s brightest young managers with another tactical masterclass.

Having outsmarted his mentor Pep Guardiola during Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final success against Manchester City, Arteta once again showed his insight into leaving Chelsea boss Frank Lampard unanswered.

Arteta’s use of long passes through the channels behind Chelsea’s two attacking full-backs exposed Lampard’s flaw in the defensive system and led directly to Aubameyang’s equalizer.

Leading Arsenal to their 14th FA Cup success – which gives them a place in the Europa League next season – has shown the 38-year-old Spaniard is the man to restore the club’s tattered reputation.

Arsenal may have endured their lowest league standings in a quarter of a century this season as Arteta struggled to stabilize the ship following Unai Emery’s sacking in December.

But he convinced his players with a straightforward approach to the discipline – banishing disgruntled Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi – and his clever game plans.

Winning the FA Cup will save Arteta time to continue his rebuilding and it suited his first trophy when the Arsenal manager came into the tournament which brought the last major silverware in the reign of Gunners legend Arsene Wenger .


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