And now Arsenal get their drinks break. Everything’s coming up
What a finish! Brilliant from Aubameyang!!!!
Bellerin and Christensen collide outside the box and it leaves Chelsea short of a centre-back. That gives Aubameyang space outside the remaining centre-backs, he disguises a shot to dribble past Zouma and then dinks a gorgeous – nay, sexy – chip over the goalkeeper into the net at the near post. Amazing finish.
67 mins – Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
Arsenal passing the ball around, Chelsea pressing high, Tierney chips it forward and Arsenal win the second ball. And Aubameyang is in here!
65 mins – Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
Arsenal could do with a drinks break. Chelsea are all over them.
62 mins – Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
Chelsea’s wing-backs are pushing really high up the pitch now, forcing Arsenal back and helping Chelsea dominate the pitch. James has had a couple of shots blocked and punted over the bar.
59 mins – Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
Chelsea could do with finding their rhythm again. Lots of passes around the middle but nothing really going into the area.
56 mins – Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
The tempo’s dropped a bit in the last few minutes and I’m not entirely sure why. Both teams making little errors in possession, nor are they pinging it about.
Arsenal suddenly have a chance to attack during one of these slow passages of play, and Aubameyang takes up a position in miles of space along the edge of the box. Lacazette just needs to pass this square and he’s in… but the ball bounces and bobbles and he has to take a touch. That touch is closed down and Chelsea get away with one.
54 mins – Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
It has been drawn to my attention that the lettering on Arsenal’s shirts makes it look like they’re staff at a medieval theme park, or some sort of pirate related thing. You can sort of see it here:
Ye Olde Arsenal.
That said I like the shirts a lot. Reminds me of the scratch plates on Fender guitars.
51 mins – Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
Pedro is coming on for Pulisic, who has to leave the pitch with the physios. Let’s hope that doesn’t become a problem for him – his pace makes him frightening to play against and a troublesome hamstring isn’t great news.
Chelsea have a corner…. but Martinez catches easily.
48 mins – Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
Oh dear. Pulisic is on the ball, carries it a good 30 or 40 yards towards the box, then starts screaming. While he’s screaming, he manages to a take a shot on his right foot which doesn’t trouble the goalkeeper and the way he goes down in a heap afterwards makes it apparent he’s not just trying to psyche anyone out, but that his hamstring has twanged. Bad news for Chelsea.
Arsenal have been the better team since the water break, during which I suspect Arteta told his wing-backs to be aggressive and push higher up the pitch. Ceballos and Xhaka started making tackles too, which has definitely helped. Jorginho and Kovacic aren’t going anywhere, so you might as well push up on them and make life difficult.
I could have seen Chelsea switch to their 4-3-3 at half time had they not been made to replace Azpilicueta in the first half but that just isn’t really possible now. Unless Lampard wants to humiliate Christensen and sub the sub.
Pulisic is the most likely to make something happen and they need to find a way to maximise that. Is that by getting him the ball more often, or focusing play elsewhere so he can arrive in attacking areas in space? Lampard is paid more than me and that’s why he gets to make decisions.
Socially distanced celebrating?
This is at the Box Park just down the road (literally) from Wembley stadium. At least fans can get a bit of a feel for what the atmosphere could have been like. Plus, in a way it’s better because you can have even more beers without trying to fire an entire pint inside you with the seven minute window you get at half time. Why do we do it? Because beer is nice.
Mount is booked – extremely harshly – for not winning a tackle he makes on Ceballos, who, as always, maximises any contact for every last penny he can.
45 mins +2 – Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
Lacazette takes it and goes for the far post with a lot of power and no direction. A poor effort when you think what a technically gifted player he is.
45 mins – Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
Arsenal’s high press is working really well now! The game has completely flipped. Pepe goes on a dribble towards the area as Lacazette makes a run ahead of him… and goes down! Pepe has twisted himself and the Chelsea defence into knots and has a free-kick on the edge of the area. Every Arsenal player wants to take this.
42 mins – Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
Arsenal in control of possession at the moment with Pepe making things happen on the right. Chelsea’s wing-backs are being pinned back as the Arsenal forwards push high and wide. Arsenal keep up the pressure and win a corner.
40 mins – Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
Tierney picks the ball up wide left, drives, hits an early cross to Pepe and his first touch kills the ball, allowing him to try a little trick that takes him past his man! Bellerin joins in, Pepe wants to shoot but can’t, forces a ball inside… blocked. Chelsea get away with it.
38 mins – Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
Mount is played in with a through ball, cuts back and spots Jorginho on the edge of the box, but Alonso comes across to try and have a hit (even though as a left wing-back he probably shouldn’t be on the right side of the pitch) and puts Jorginho off. The shot rises way over the bar.
36 mins – Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
Azpilicueta leaves the pitch in tears, hobbling 🙁
Christensen is coming on in his place, which could be problematic as he is nowhere near as quick Aubameyang. I wonder if Lampard might have to shift something around to make sure Christensen isn’t exposed by any runs in behind. Zouma seems to have moved to right centre-back, Christensen is the central defender now.
33 mins – Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
Azpilicueta has gone down clutching the back of his leg after sprinting to keep up with Aubameyang. That could well be a hamstring… and he looks pretty distraught about it. There are tears. The physios are dealing with him now.
31 mins – Arsenal 1 Chelsea 1
Giroud has gone down howling after Luiz bumps into his back. He should be OK to go on but I’m only saying that because he’s back up and running because my medical knowledge is below minimal. Keown reckons he might be at it in an attempt to alert the referee to Luiz getting so tight to him so often.
AUBAMEYANG LEVELS THE SCORE!
Caballero goes the wrong way, Aubameyang slots it in the right of the goal.
The VAR is now looking to make sure that the foul took place inside the area… but we know there was a covering defender so it won’t be upgraded to a red.
The verdict is: penalty.
Aubameyang runs into the box, Azpilicueta chases him but can’t get round, puts his arm on his shoulder to try and get round but eventually gives Aubameyang the chance to go down. It’s a definite foul.
Arteta wants a red card for it. So do the Arsenal players.
PEPE THUMPS IT TOP CORNER! But wait, there’s an offside flag! And the replay shows that Lacazette was definitely offside when he received the ball before shifting it on to Pepe. What a hit that was.
22 mins – Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1
Arsenal have started working a little harder to win 50/50s and let Chelsea realise they’re actually in the game. It’s been too easy for Chelsea to play through them and keep the ball up until now.
21 mins – Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1
Pepe also makes a mistake so bad he should be substituted for it, trying to heel chop his way out of a dangerous situation on the edge of his own box. Had he not recovered from almost tripping himself up with a ridiculous attempt at a skill trick, Chelsea would have been clean in to score a second. But instead, he keeps possession and ends up sending Maitland-Niles through on goal wide on the left with a brilliantly weighted pass. Maitland-Niles tries a flip flap on the edge of the box and gives Azpilicueta an easy job of shielding the ball behind for a goal kick.
18 mins – Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1
Ceballos has lined up this free-kick, with Pepe standing over it too. I think Ceballos has claimed it since he won it, effectively calling dibs, and something I’m fully behind as a person who does the same thing in Sunday League.
He steps up… and hits a pretty useless shot straight down the middle over the bar. I’m not sure he’ll get the chance to hit another.
16 mins – Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1
Xhaka goes down screaming in pain after being caught heavily by Kovacic, who loses control of the ball and dives in. For a second it looked like he was in real trouble but he’s back on his feet and Kovacic has been booked.
Ceballos tries to dribble past a few tackles straight after and wins his side another free-kick closer to goal. Great feet from the midfielder to keep the ball under control with so many around him!
13 mins – Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1
Pulisic dances into the area after dribbling through about four bodies, draws more towards him and shoots, forcing Martinez into another save. Arsenal are not enjoying defending against him.
Arteta’s side get forward but can’t make use of the corner they win. Chelsea are getting their wide forwards into central positions and it is causing havoc behind Arsenal’s midfield line.
10 mins – Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1
Chelsea pressing high and Arsenal are making mistakes now. Holding hits a simple pass straight out for a throw. Chelsea easily able to win possession back at the moment.
Great play by Chelsea. Jorginho threads the ball through Arsenal’s midfield, the centre-backs are really compact and Mount can go on the outside left of them while still being in a narrow position, hits a low ball to the back post, and Arsenal just cannot deal with it. Pulisic rides a tackle, Tierney can’t make one or he’ll wipe him out, and Pulisic chips it over the goalkeeper!
5 mins – Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0
Chelsea attack quickly, Mount has an opportunity to shoot, lines up the shot and tries to curl a shot into the corner of the net. Martinez dives and catches it cleanly. Great save!
3 mins – Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0
Tierney does really well to ride a couple of challenges with a drop shoulder and chip the ball down the line. Maitland-Niles runs into space, cuts back and crosses to Aubameyang… who meets the ball at the near post! And heads wide.
The players gather round in a circle as another campaign audio/video plays out in support of people speaking out about their mental health, which I’m sure we can agree is welcome, and now I think we’re finally ready for the game.
Here come the players!
And it’s time for another song. This one about is the Queen and how she must be saved. Some very talented opera/classical singers belt the national anthem out. They finish, the empty stadium returns to silence.
Now the players are really fired up.
Abide With Me
Emili Sande, who like me is from Aberdeenshire (SHOUT OUT), is currently signing Abide With Me from the roof of Wembley. I’m not sure how she got there but she can fairly belt out a tune. This one is being sung in memory of all those who have suffered and lost lives from the coronavirus pandemic. It also serves to remind us how great it will be when crowds can return.
Frank Lampard and Mikel Arteta
Lampard is asked if anything is different as a manager going into a cup final:
Yeh. Everything is! The good is better, the bad is sometimes worse, the workload is much more. But the feeling is the same.
Arteta doesn’t get any difficult questions so can go smoothly down the middle.
Today is the day we have a great choice. We know how this club is linked with this competition, some of our playres have the experience of winning this cup so hopefully we can do it again.
The Arsenal reserve goalkeeper could well become their number one with some impressive performances since covering for Bernd Leno. I really enjoyed this interview with Sam Dean published a few days ago and highly recommend you give it a read. It’s all about how he’s had to battle the entire way for a decade to get his chance, and how high the stakes were during that journey. Plus, Sam wrote it and he’s great.
Who has the advantage?
Jason Burt went through every player in today’s starting XI (or what he assumed it would be anyway!) to rate each individual out of 10, then add that together to see who is best. But who is it? Clickety click to find out!
As expected, both sides in 3-4-3 systems but Arsenal are playing Maitland-Niles at left wing-back rather than Saka.
A few fans hanging around Wembley
None of them will get in the stadium, or particularly near it, but that hasn’t stopped a few fans making their way to the Wembley Park tube stop and then just…. hang around. The players will all be inspired.
It’s Cup Final day
Welcome! The FA Cup, the most magical of trophies in all England, comes to an end for another season today as Arsenal take on Chelsea. It’s Arteta vs Lampard, two ex-players of the respective clubs looking to win their first trophy as manager. Who can call it?
Chelsea have the better players, team, form and league position so you’d think have a big advantage going into this… but Arsenal are much improved and more than capable of lifting the trophy. Both sides will almost certainly adopt 3-4-3 formations, with Lampard likely to mirror the system that Arteta has developed to make use of the players he has available, and Chelsea’s team in that shape is simply stronger.
Arsenal are a lot weaker defensively, with Rob Holding and David Luiz prone to error in particular. Kieran Tierney has made a real difference since joining and regaining fitness, and brings much needed knowledge of how to routinely win trophies. He won everything he competed in domestically for Celtic. Saka may well start as a left wing-back and spend most of the game attacking, something that will require Tierney providing a lot of cover.
For all the mistakes at the back, they have a really potent strike force. Aubameyang is the goal machine, Lacazette gets shouted at by Arteta a lot for not pressing as instructed, and we may even see Nicolas Pepe work his magic on the Wembley pitch.
Christian Pulisic is the danger man for Chelsea, a player who shifts the ball so quickly between both feet that defenders have a hard time working out when to time their tackles. Giroud could win a trophy at the expense of his old team, Kovacic will keep things ticking over, and the defenders will try to protect their goalkeeper. Willy Caballero will probably start over Kepa, as Lampard’s confidence in his club’s record signing drops ever deeper towards the core of earth.
Kick off is 5:30pm and you can watch the game on BBC One or BT Sport. Alternatively you can follow the action online with us right here in this liveblog, or treat us like a handy friend and read along while taking in the match.