A few weeks back, the FA decided on staging the 2020 FA Cup Final on August 1st.
In this unprecedented time, it was not always certain that the competition would be concluded, but luckily we are going to see yet another final of football’s oldest competition take place at Wembley Stadium.
We’re in for another London derby as Arsenal and Chelsea proved to be a cut above the rest of the competitors and will be gearing up for their third FA Cup Final bout in the history of the two clubs.
It will be a very different atmosphere this year as fans are still not allowed to attend games, so we’ll witness the first final which will be played behind closed doors.
The Gunners have been successful twice before when contesting Chelsea in an FA Cup final matchup but the way Lampard’s team has been performing this year will give fans hopes that the Blues can turn the tide this time around.
Let’s look at how both clubs have performed lately and then I share my thoughts on how the FA Cup Final will pan out.
The Gunners are still exhibiting a lot of the problems that resulted in Unai Emery’s early exit as coach but there has been a definite improvement in their ranks.
Mikel Arteta has been working tirelessly to transform the vibe and culture that these players had been used to and I feel he has progressed a lot on that front.
There have been a couple of disappointing defeats in the Premier League since the restart but solid victories against Liverpool and Wolverhampton, plus a great display away to Sheffield United in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup are proof that things are moving in the right direction for the Gunners.
But Arteta’s first real masterstroke was overcoming his mentor Pep Guardiola in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
City was a huge favorite to retain the cup but Pep’s side met a very organized and resilient Arsenal that completely outplayed them throughout the entire matchup.
Players like David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi who have been at fault for many of the team’s conceded goals during the course of the season looked like the best pairing the club has had in a long, long while.
Full-backs Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney were at their usual high level and Arteta’s plan to counter Mahrez’s pace by placing Ainsley Maitland-Niles on the left wing paid off as the Algerian was blocked out for the entirety of the game.
Up front, the team didn’t look rusty and Dani Ceballos alongside Nicolas Pepe were playing with creativity and freedom which was perfect for star striker Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang who took full advantage and scored the decisive two goals that sent the Gunners to the final.
The Blues were pretty much on course to get to Top 4 for most of the season but recent heavy defeats against Sheffield United and West Ham have put them right back in the race.
Manchester United is breathing hard down their necks and Leicester is not backing down despite some woeful displays after the EPL was rebooted.
So, it was quite important for Lampard’s squad to have a good performance in their respective semi-final and they didn’t disappoint.
It’s true that the opening two goals were complete howlers from David de Gea but Chelsea was by far the better team and their manager will be quite pleased with what he saw.
This is especially true for Olivier Giroud and Mason Mount who not only scored a couple of big goals but were in great form throughout the full game.
Mount hadn’t scored for a very long period of time so the fact that de Gea didn’t react well to his shot in the second half will be a huge relief for him.
The young midfielder was instrumental at the beginning of the season so this goal drought was definitely playing tricks with his mind.
It was the perfect time to get back on the scoresheet and the same goes for Lampard’s veteran French striker.
Giroud was completely dismissed at the start of the season but gradually, the manager started giving him more minutes and the decision has definitely paid off.
There are not a lot of strikers that can give you the presence and combinative play that Giroud has in his locker and he is working extremely well with Mount and the rest of the mobile forwards like Pedro, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic.
If Lampard can shore up his defense and avoid the capitulation that marked the team’s games against West Ham and Sheffield United, this squad has a big chance to claim a first FA Cup Final win against Arsenal.
My Verdict and Prediction
Both teams look to be in good stead right now but I believe Arsenal has several advantages.
First of all, the team usually shows up big time when they are in the FA Cup Final, and their record 13 titles in the competition confirm this.
Their performance against City in the semi-final will be the blueprint that Arteta will certainly strive for and if players like David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi can show the same form, the Gunners will look scary in the final as well.
On top of that, Arteta’s team is not exactly playing for much in the Premier League and can get a good preparation, while Chelsea’s focus will be on securing the Top 4 spot.
If the Blues fail to do so, I believe their confidence will be extremely low which plays right in the hands of Arsenal. It remains to be seen how the final EPL standings will look like but I do believe we’re in for another Arsenal win here which should prove be a major springboard for both the manager and his players.