3️⃣ points as Aubameyang inspires Arsenal to FA Cup final comeback


Padraig Whelan

Article image: 3️⃣ points as Aubameyang inspires Arsenal to FA Cup final comeback

Arsenal won the FA Cup on Saturday evening thanks to a 2-1 victory over Chelsea at Wembley Stadium.

Their captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice after Christian Pulisic’s opener put Chelsea, who ended the game with 10 men, in front.

This is what we made of it.

A fitting conclusion

The first ever August FA Cup final was unique for a variety of reasons.

But it proved to be a fitting and enjoyable end to what has been an utterly chaotic season – all the more so when the Gunners dropped the trophy during their presentation.

That anarchy was perhaps best summed up the officiating performance of Anthony Taylor, who had a poor game with both the big and small decisions throughout.

But there’s been enough complaining all year about VAR, referees and the rules of the game.

Ultimately, Arsenal were deserving victors and after weathering the early 15-minute storm in which they went behind, they bossed this one.

Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka shone along with their double-goal hero and captain.

Mikel Arteta’s tactics, exposing the Blues down their right-hand side and refusing to let his side panic and go direct even when they had the lead, were justified and paid off.

Chelsea will be left to rue what might have been had their star man Christian Pulisic not been forced off through injury or if Mateo Kovačić hadn’t been wrongly dismissed.

In the end though, their defence cost them as it has so many times this season. It is a problem that must be looked at this summer.

There are very few, if any, of those defenders who featured at Wembley who fill you with any kind of confidence.

Particularly when Aubameyang is lurking.

No 14 delivers 14

For Arsenal, the final was all about one man.

Granted, the midfield shored things up brilliantly after a poor first 15 minutes.

Hector Bellerín also produced a fine showing, capped off by his brilliant run which led to the winner.

But when you think of this final years from now, only one man will come to mind. This was The Aubameyang Final.

He dragged the Gunners back into the contest single-handedly, racing in on goal before being hauled down in the box for a penalty.

His composure from the spot was never in doubt but the way he stroked home the kick, considering the pressure, was exceptional even by his standards.

The way he took his second, with a brilliant shimmy and chip was sublime – one of the great Wembley winners.

Let him enjoy the moment. There was, predictably, talk put to him afterwards about his Arsenal future.

That’s for another day. Of course Arsenal would love to see him stay – but that’s a problem for the weeks ahead for the FA Cup’s record winners.

A tale of two starters

Both Cristian Pulisic and César Azpilicueta had very different outings at Wembley.

Each man started and was forced off early through injury but in the Spaniard’s case, that may have been a blessing in disguise.

He was given an absolutely torrid time, continually targeted and exposed by Arsenal and he looked extremely uncomfortable in his time on the park.

It was culminated by giving away a penalty which he was lucky not to see red for giving away.

While it shouldn’t have been under the rules change, the Gunners (David Luiz at Manchester City) and plenty of others haven’t been afforded the same leeway. Where is the consistency?

Pulisic, meanwhile, was outstanding. His movement caused countless headaches for the Arsenal defence and midfield.

The American took his goal very well, firing his way into the history books with his well-taken strike on five minutes.

It was genuinely crushing to see him make way with a popped hamstring, although he should be commended for staying up to get his shot away even after picking up the injury.

His tears said it all. He was the Blues’ main avenue to success and you knew it wouldn’t be their day when he departed.