Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brace in the FA Cup final on Saturday.
Let’s look at three things we learned from the Wembley clash:
In what could be his last game for Arsenal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang showed why the Gunners must do everything in their power to keep the Gabon forward.
The 31-year-old is out of contract at the end of next season and has been linked with a move amid reports he wants to play for a club in the Champions League.
Coach Mikel Arteta insists Aubameyang wants to stay, but he also conceded winning the FA Cup would be a useful way to show him the club are heading in the right direction.
Arsenal did their part and it was Aubameyang who provided the crucial cutting edge.
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 trailing to Christian Pulisic’s early goal, Aubameyang’s blistering break left Cesar Azpilicueta trailing in his wake.
Azpilicueta responded by tugging at Aubameyang’s shoulder and the forward made the most of the contact as he tumbled in the area to win a penalty that he dispatched 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 skill and improvisation that proved decisive as he jinked past Kurt Zouma and clipped a fine finish over Willy Caballero in the 67th minute.
Chelsea hamstrung by Pulisic injury
Christian Pulisic had emerged as a key figure for Chelsea since the coronavirus hiatus, but a day that started on a high for the United States winger ended in agony.
It has been that kind of turbulent season for Pulisic, whose first year with Chelsea started slowly amid injuries and poor form before bursting into life.
He was on the scoresheet after just five minutes, with his 11th goal of the season.
Drifting into central midfield to take possession, Pulisic slipped a precise pass to Mason Mount and carried on his run into the Arsenal penalty area, where he took Olivier Giroud’s flick and slotted past Emiliano Martinez.
Pulisic was the first American to score in the FA Cup final but disaster struck in the 49th minute when he raced away for a shot that was interrupted when he felt his hamstring twang.
Immediately grabbing the injured area, Pulisic was helped off the pitch.
Without the pace of Pulisic to keep Arsenal’s defense on the back foot, Frank Lampard’s side was bereft of a cutting edge in the final third as the trophy slipped from their grasp.
Arteta bolsters growing reputation
Mikel Arteta enhanced his reputation as one of the Premier League’s brightest young managers with another tactical masterclass.
Having out-witted his mentor Pep Guardiola in Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final success against Manchester City, Arteta showed his acumen again to leave Chelsea boss Frank Lampard out of answers.
Arteta’s use of long passes into the channels behind Chelsea’s two attacking full-backs exposed the flaw in Lampard’s defensive system and led directly to Aubameyang’s equaliser.
Leading Arsenal to their 14th FA Cup success — which brings them a place in next season’s Europa League — showed the 38-year-old Spaniard is the man to restore the club’s tattered reputation.
Arsenal may have endured their lowest league finish for a quarter of a century this season as Arteta battled to steady the ship following Unai Emery’s sacking in December.
But he has won over his players with a direct approach to discipline — banishing malcontents Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi — and his astute game-plans.
Winning the FA Cup will buy Arteta time to continue his rebuild and it was fitting his first trophy as Arsenal manager came in the tournament that brought the last major silverware of Gunners legend Arsene Wenger’s reign.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang inspired Arsenal to a record 14th FA Cup win as the Gunners captain struck twice to beat Chelsea 2-1 in the final at an empty Wembley on Saturday.
Christian Pulisic had given Chelsea the dream start, but the Blues unravelled after Aubameyang was brought down by Cesar Azpilicueta inside the area and converted the resulting penalty.
A brilliant finish from Aubameyang 23 minutes from time earned Mikel Arteta silverware in his first season as Arsenal boss before Chelsea were controversially reduced to 10 men when Mateo Kovacic was shown an extremely soft second yellow card.
Arteta said ahead of the final he hoped a taste of success would encourage Aubameyang, who only has a year left on his contract at the Emirates, to commit to a new long-term deal.
The Gabon international’s double took his tally for the season to 29 and ensured the Gunners will not miss out on European football next season for the first time since 1995/96 as they qualify for the Europa League.
An FA Cup final unlike any other with nearly 90,000 empty seats saw the traditional singing of “Abide With Me” performed on the Wembley roof.
Chelsea had already achieved their primary goal from Frank Lampard’s first season in charge by securing a place in next season’s Champions League last weekend and early on they seemed set to cap a top-four finish with Lampard’s first trophy as a manager.
Emiliano Martinez flew to his left to turn Mason Mount’s shot behind, but Arsenal did not heed that warning as Chelsea’s front three combined perfectly for the opener on five minutes.
Mount’s low cross was flicked on by former Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud and Pulisic continued his scoring streak since football’s return in June by showing quick feet before prodding the ball home.
Arteta has gained plenty of plaudits for his tactical nous during his first eight months in a managerial role and the Spaniard managed to reorganise the Gunners during the first-half drinks break to change the momentum of the game.
Aubameyang leads comeback
A minute after play resumed, Nicolas Pepe thought he had curled home a brilliant equaliser from the edge of the box, only to be denied by Ainsley Maitland-Niles being flagged for offside in the build-up.
While Chelsea have already significantly strengthened their forward line for next season with the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, Arsenal are hoping just to hold onto their key man in Aubameyang.
Just like in the semi-final win over Manchester City, he proved to be the match-winner as he raced onto Kieran Tierney’s hopeful ball over the top and outpaced Azpilicueta before being brought down by the Chelsea captain just inside the area.
Azpilicueta escaped the double punishment of a red card, but VAR confirmed the spot-kick and Aubameyang coolly slotted home.
Chelsea were further hit by two big injury blows either side of half-time as Azpilicueta and Pulisic pulled up with hamstring injuries that will almost certainly rule them out of the Champions League last 16, second leg against Bayern Munich next weekend.
Despite Chelsea’s major spending spree in reinforcing their attack, it is at the back where they have been found wanting all season and they were caught out too easily for the winner.
Hector Bellerin burst through the weak challenge of Jorginho before the ball was played into the path of Aubameyang, who skipped past Kurt Zouma and nonchalantly lifted the finish over Willy Caballero.
Worse was to come for Lampard’s men when Kovacic was inexplicably sent off for the slightest touch on Granit Xhaka, but Anthony Taylor’s decision could not be reviewed by VAR as it was a second bookable offence.
Mikel Arteta believes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s future at Arsenal could be influenced by the outcome of Saturday’s FA Cup final against Chelsea as the Gunners try to convince the Gabon international to extend his contract.
Aubameyang, 31, has just one year left on his deal at the Emirates and given Arsenal’s financial predicament, it would make sense to sell in the close season if he cannot be convinced to prolong his contract.
Despite his strike rate as one of Europe’s deadliest forwards over the past six years, Aubameyang has just two major trophies to his name with cup wins at St Etienne and Borussia Dortmund.
Arteta captained Arsenal to two FA Cup wins during his playing career and believes experiencing that success could convince Aubameyang to trust the club are going in the right direction.
“No, I don’t have that feeling,” said Arteta on Friday when asked if Saturday’s clash could be Aubameyang’s final game for the club.
“It’s a package at the end. You need to have a lot of ingredients on the table to persuade a player of his level to be at this football club.
“Don’t forget that he still has a contract here with us. We want to do it in a long-term, at the moment he’s with us and he should be really proud of where he is.
“Winning a trophy helps to really believe and feel ‘wow’, I want more of these moments. If you are wearing the armband and able to lift that cup, it is such a moment. This is going to help for sure.”
Winning a trophy in his first season in management would also be a huge bonus for Arteta to prove he can restore Arsenal’s former glories.
“It generates trust when you win titles,” he added. “It generates moments when together you go through some good emotions.
“It brings everybody together, you have memories, there is a lot of things about winning a trophy that is so positive for any group and when you are in a process of (development) that makes it even more important, so we have a great opportunity tomorrow, let’s go for it.”
Beating their London rivals behind closed doors at Wembley would also ensure Arsenal do not miss out on European football next season for the first time since 1995/96 by qualifying for the Europa League.
“It’s a final, the only focus is on winning that trophy tomorrow,” said Arteta.
“Financially it would be really helpful and on the sporting side, to play European football for this club is a must.”
The Football Association announced on Wednesday that the Community Shield, the traditional curtainraiser for the new English season, would take place at Wembley on August 29.
The match between Premier League champions Liverpool and the winners of Saturday’s FA Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea will be played two weeks before the start of the top-flight season.
It has been reported that the match could serve as a test event to welcome a restricted number of fans into Wembley as part of plans for supporters to make a socially distanced return to sports venues more widely from October 1.
The match will be immediately followed by an international break from September 2 to 10.
The Premier League said last week that the 2020/21 season would start on September 12 and run until May 23, 2022.
Aston Villa climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone as Egypt winger Trezeguet clinched a priceless 1-0 win against Arsenal on Tuesday.
Dean Smith’s side have their survival fate in their own hands after Trezeguet’s first-half strike at Villa Park.
Watford’s 4-0 thrashing against Manchester City earlier on Tuesday had opened the door for Villa to escape the bottom three.
And Villa seized their chance with a first home Premier League win over Arsenal in 18 attempts dating back to 1998.
Villa are now fourth bottom and have moved ahead of third bottom Watford on goal difference, with Smith’s men on -26 compared to the Hornets’ -27.
They head to West Ham for their final game of the season on Sunday, while Watford visit Arsenal and second-bottom Bournemouth, three points from safety, travel to Everton.
There are a multitude of permutations that could decide relegation, but Villa will be safe if they can better Watford’s result on what is certain to be a dramatic finale.
If Villa and Watford both win, goal difference or goals scored will decide who goes down.
Having secured an FA Cup final place by beating Manchester City on Saturday, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta made six changes and Arsenal looked a shadow of the team who impressed at Wembley.
Arsenal cannot finish higher than eighth and must win the FA Cup final against Chelsea to qualify for next season’s Europa League.
They are certain to finish below north London rivals Tottenham for a fourth successive season.
Villa kicked off just minutes after the final whistle at Watford, whose captain Troy Deeney found himself in the awkward position of looking for a favour from an Arsenal team he had mocked for lacking passion in the past.
If Smith was expecting his team to use the motivation from Watford’s defeat to make a fast start, he must have been disappointed by their tepid opening.
Trezeguet steps up
The most notable incident in the early stages was a plane flying over Villa Park with a banner that read “Back Arteta Kroenke Out” in a pointed message to Arsenal’s US-based owner after another troubled season.
Villa were struggling to find any rhythm, but the drinks break offered Smith a chance to fire up his players.
Crucially, Arsenal’s long-standing weakness at set-pieces reared its head again as Villa snatched the lead in the 27th minute.
Tyrone Mings glanced Conor Hourihane’s corner across the six-yard box and Trezeguet was left unmarked to blast a fierce strike past Arsenal keeper Emiliano Martinez.
Trezeguet has been Villa’s savour as the stakes have got higher and his vital goal followed his brace in the victory against Crystal Palace nine days earlier.
The 25-year-old’s seventh goal of the season came from Villa’s first shot on target and he had their second as well with a header that Martinez grasped gratefully.
Jack Grealish, strongly linked with a close-season move, was captaining Villa in what could have been his last home game with the club he supported as a boy.
If it was to be his farewell, Grealish almost made it a memorable one with a long-range curler that flashed just wide.
Arteta sent on the revitalised Granit Xhaka at half-time and Arsenal immediately improved.
Cedric Soares’ cross found Bukayo Saka, who shot over from a good position 12 yards out, then Ezri Konsa threw himself into a brave block to repel Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s shot.
Keinan Davis wasted a golden opportunity to seal the points when he raced onto Grealish’s pass, only to drag his shot wide.
With the tension mounting, Villa rode their luck when Eddie Nketiah’s glancing header hit the post and bounced back into Pepe Reina’s hands.
David Luiz insists Arsenal’s shock 2-0 win over Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals proves they deserve to be contenders for major trophies.
Arsenal defender Luiz enjoyed a sweet moment of redemption as his superb display paved the way for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s double to knock out holders City at Wembley.
Luiz was lambasted after giving away a goal before being sent off for conceding a penalty in Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat at City in their first game following the coronavirus hiatus.
But the Brazilian kept City at bay in the rematch and Arsenal, through to a record 21st FA Cup final, will play Chelsea or Manchester United in the showpiece on August 1.
“We have a final to play this season and we will try and win a title for this club because this club deserves to win a trophy,” Luiz told BT Sport.
“It was a great result against one of the best teams in the world. We were humble, we understood the way we had to play and we took the opportunities to score.
“We have to be mature, to understand what level we are in the process.”
Luiz paid tribute to Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, who out-witted City boss Pep Guardiola with a shrewd game plan, and saluted his team-mates’ fighting spirit.
“We have an amazing coach but we can’t go from 0 to 100. We are improving. The spirit was great and I’m happy for the team because they deserve it,” Luiz said.
“All the team defended, it is not just the last line. Everybody has to fight and play every ball 100 percent. It’s part of the process.
“We could do more of this in the game so it would maybe be easier. The other team is miles away in front of us but we were humble so when we play we can hurt the opponent and we did that.”
Asked if he was hurt by the criticism following the defeat at City in June, Luiz — who has since signed a new contract — said: “It is part of the football. I understood that football is about surviving.
“Every day you are going to defend the odd thing. I was working hard every single day after my mistakes. I was humble to work more and to work more for the team.”
Arsenal reached a record 21st FA Cup final as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s double clinched a shock 2-0 win over holders Manchester City at Wembley on Saturday.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta outwitted City manager Pep Guardiola with an astute counter-attacking scheme and Aubameyang struck in each half as Arsenal executed the plan to perfection.
Arsenal will face Chelsea or Manchester United, who meet in the other semi-final on Sunday, in the final at Wembley on August 1.
Arteta captained Arsenal to FA Cup triumph six years ago and, in his first season in charge of the north London club, the Spaniard has led them back to the final of a competition they last won in 2017.
Just days after beating Premier League champions Liverpool, Arsenal offered further evidence that Arteta could be the man to restore them to the glory days of the Arsene Wenger era.
Arteta had fired a warning shot to Arsenal’s board in midweek when he admitted he was concerned about his club’s ability to spend enough to turn them into title contenders.
On the evidence of the canny way he got one over on Guardiola, Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke would be wise to give the man he hired in December a chance to show what he can do with a rebuilt team.
Arsenal had lost their previous seven meetings with City, including a 3-0 drubbing in their first game after the coronavirus hiatus.
City were unbeaten in their past nine matches at Wembley but, thanks to Arteta’s masterstroke, Arsenal handed Guardiola’s side a first defeat there since the 2017 FA Cup semi-final against the Gunners.
With second place in the Premier League secured, City have to focus on the resumption of their Champions League challenge in August, when they defend a 2-1 first leg lead against Real Madrid in the last 16.
City bossed the early exchanges to such an extent that they had amassed 83 percent possession after 10 minutes.
But Arteta knows City well after his time as Guardiola’s assistant and he set out to exploit their weakness against counter attacks, using Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe to get behind City’s attacking full-backs Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy.
Arsenal should have been ahead when David Luiz picked out Aubameyang, who wastefully shot straight at Ederson with only the keeper to beat.
It was a warning City failed to heed and Aubameyang made them pay in the 19th minute.
At the climax of an 18-pass move, Pepe’s deep cross caught Walker dozing and Aubameyang eluded him to slide a fine finish off the far post from a tight angle.
It was the kind of incisive, imaginative attack that City usually torment Arsenal with, but for once it was the men in red celebrating.
The Gabon striker’s 24th goal of the season was a reminder why Arsenal are so desperate to get him to sign a contract extension.
Urging Arsenal to “get the ball, get the ball” at every opportunity, Arteta’s intensity on the touchline was matched by his players.
City, unbeaten in their previous 22 domestic cup ties, were well short of their best.
Raheem Sterling wasted a golden opportunity to equalise when he shot wide from Kevin De Bruyne’s pass.
City finally tested Emiliano Martinez for the first time as Riyad Mahrez’s low strike forced an excellent one-handed stop from the Arsenal keeper.
De Bruyne’s free-kick curled just wide before VAR rejected Sterling’s penalty appeal after Mustafi appeared to trip the winger.
Defending deep, Arsenal were putting their bodies in the way of everything to keep City at bay.
Even Luiz, much maligned for a terrible display in Arsenal’s last meeting with City, was at the top of his game and Arteta’s rope-a-dope plan brought a rich reward in the 71st minute.
City left themselves open at the back and Aubameyang beat the offside trap as he accelerated onto Kieran Tierney’s sublime pass before slotting under Ederson.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said there is only so much he can do to close the gap on Liverpool next season without major transfer funds after beating the Premier League champions 2-1 on Wednesday.
Despite losing for just the third time in the league this season, the Reds still enjoy a 40-point lead over the ninth-placed Gunners, who are on course for their lowest league finish since the 1994/95 season.
Arteta has improved the side since landing his first managerial role in December and believes the attitude of his squad now matches the desire of Liverpool, if not the quality.
“The gap is enormous but the gap in many areas we cannot improve in two months,” Arteta told Sky Sports. “But the gap between the accountability, the energy, commitment and fight of the two teams is now equal and before it wasn’t like this.
“The rest will take some time, but at least that we have now and my message to the players is with that we can create something.”
Arsenal profited from two rare errors from the world’s most expensive defender Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker, who also cost a then world-record fee for a goalkeeper when he joined Liverpool from Roma in 2018.
Those signings helped shore up a previously leaky defence to turn Klopp’s men into world, European and English champions.
Arteta, by contrast, is not expected to be handed major funds in the transfer market with Arsenal set to miss out on Champions League football for a fourth straight season.
“It’s a big concern,” he said when asked about the money available to him in the close season. “You know how you build those squads, there is no magic.
“You need to improve with quality players and you need bigger squads to compete in this competition.”
Arsenal ended Liverpool’s bid to set a new Premier League points record with a 2-1 win over the champions, while Manchester City pushed Bournemouth closer to relegation on Wednesday.
Jurgen Klopp’s side needed to win their final three games of the season to break Manchester City’s record of 100 points set in 2018.
They were on course when Sadio Mane opened the scoring with a clinical finish from Andrew Robertson’s cross at the Emirates Stadium.
But two careless mistakes condemned Liverpool to a third league defeat this season.
Virgil van Dijk’s wayward backpass went straight to Alexandre Lacazette, who rounded Reds keeper Alisson Becker to slot home in the 32nd minute.
Alisson was guilty of an equally costly blunder when his pass out was intercepted by Lacazette and he picked out 20-year-old Reiss Nelson for a cool close-range finish.
Liverpool have failed to win three of their five matches since clinching the title.
They have 93 points and with just two games left and can only reach 99 at the end of their first title-winning campaign for 30 years.
Arsenal climb to ninth place as they chase qualification for the Europa League.
Mikel Arteta’s side go into Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City in good spirits after bouncing back from Sunday’s defeat at north London rivals Tottenham.
Manchester City had enjoyed a big win off the field already this week with their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturning a two-season ban from playing in European competitions, freeing up Pep Guardiola’s men to play in the Champions League next season.
Guardiola left Aymeric Laporte, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez on the bench against Bournemouth to keep them fresh for Wembley, but City still had too much quality in the form of David Silva and Gabriel Jesus.
Silva has just two more matches at the Etihad after a 10-year City career and showed why he will be so missed by curling a free-kick in off the underside of the crossbar six minutes in.
Bournemouth had chances to level against a makeshift City defence as Ederson turned Junior Stanislas’s free-kick onto the post.
At the other end, Jesus was ruthless as he wriggled between two weak Bournemouth challenges inside the box before firing into the far corner to score for the third consecutive game.
– Stunning strike – City finally conceded for the first time in five home games since the restart when David Brooks turned home Callum Wilson’s cross two minutes from time.
“It was a really difficult game. We started well in the first 10 or 15 minutes of the second half but then we had a problem in our build-up,” Guardiola said after his side’s 2-1 win.
Defeat leaves Bournemouth still three points adrift of safety from Watford and West Ham, who face each other on Friday.
Wolves remain three points adrift of the Champions League places with just two games to play after Chris Wood’s 96th-minute spot-kick gave Burnley a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor.
It was not until 14 minutes from time that the visitors broke the deadlock thanks to Raul Jimenez’s stunning strike on the half-volley.
In stoppage-time, Mike Dean pointed to the spot for a handball by Matt Doherty despite the Irishman seemingly being impeded by Wood’s attempt at an overhead kick.
Tottenham won 3-1 at Newcastle to keep their chances of European football next season on track by moving up to seventh.
Harry Kane and Son Heung-min were the key men for Tottenham as the South Korean’s low shot crept in at Martin Dubravka’s near post to open the scoring.
Serge Aurier started for the visitors just three days after his brother was shot dead in Toulouse and the Ivorian was at fault for Newcastle’s equaliser as Matt Ritchie pounced on a wayward clearance to fire home.
Kane quickly restored Tottenham’s lead with a back-post header and the England captain added a second with his head in the final minute.