Arsenal vs Chelsea: FA Cup final preview

All the latest news and information ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea with both coaches hoping to pick up a first piece of silverware of their managerial careers.

Arsenal vs Chelsea: FA Cup final preview
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Arsenal vs Chelsea Preview

It has been a season of upheaval for Arsenal after the sacking of Unai Emery in December and things have not been easy for new boss Mikel Arteta. League performances have been inconsistent and a final position of 8th was their lowest for 25 years, but the club do appear to have turned a corner under Arteta’s leadership.

The Gunners’ FA Cup form has been impressive and all five of their wins in this season’s competition have come under the Spaniard, during which time they conceded only two goals. Their campaign ends with a first appearance in the FA Cup final since the 2016/17 season when they defeated Saturday’s opponents, Chelsea.

The turning point in Arsenal’s season came in the quarter-final tie with Sheffield United when Arteta debuted the new 3-4-3 system that has got their season back on track. Integral to the success of the switch has been David Luiz who will start at the centre of a back-three to face his former club. Luiz’s lapses of concentration have cost his team points this season, particularly in giving away a Premier League-record five penalties, but his commanding performance in the semi-final victory over Manchester City helped justify Arteta’s faith in the Brazilian.

Premier League - Aston Villa v ArsenalSoccer Football - Premier League - Aston Villa v Arsenal - Villa Park, Birmingham, Britain - July 21, 2020 Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

Chelsea transition

This has also been a period transition for Chelsea and one that has been managed admirably by Frank Lampard in his first season as a Premier League manager. The Blues confirmed a top four finish on the final day of the season to confirm Champions League football exceed many preseason expectations. With European qualification confirmed the FA Cup would be the icing on the cake for a man who won the trophy four times with the club as a player.

If Chelsea are victorious at Wembley it will likely have a lot to do with their dangerous forward line who have really come into the own since the restart. Christian Pulisic and former Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud were two of the most impressive players since the Premier League returned and both will be eager to cement their place in the side ahead of the arrival of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.

But for all their attacking potential Chelsea can be vulnerable defensively and so are also likely to line up with a back three. Despite finishing fourth no team in the top half of the table conceded more goals than the Blues in the 2019/20 season and Lampard faces a tough choice between record-signing Kepa Arrizabalaga and 38-year-old Willy Caballero in goal.

Premier League - Chelsea v Wolverhampton WanderersSoccer Football - Premier League - Chelsea v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - July 26, 2020 Chelsea manager Frank Lampard

Arsenal vs Chelsea: Injuries and Suspensions

The Gunners will certainly be without Shkodran Mustafi after the defender injured his hamstring in the semi-final victory and is not expected to return until October. Calum Chambers, Gabriel Martinelli, Bernd Leno and Pablo Mari are also unavailable for selection due to long-term injuries.

There is good news for Arsenal fans on the fitness of Hector Bellerin who missed last weekend’s win over Watford but has since returned to full training. Neither Mesut Ozil nor Matteo Guendouzi appear to be in Arteta’s plans so are unlikely to be involved.

The main concern for Chelsea this season has been midfielder N’Golo Kante who has not featured since picking up a hamstring injury in early July. The Frenchman has been unfortunate with injuries but was back in training this week and Lampard confirmed that he is fit enough to be involved on Saturday.

Billy Gilmour and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are both definitely out but Willian is back in contention after missing last weekend’s victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Arsenal vs Chelsea: What the managers said

Mikel Arteta (Arsenal): “The only aim, the only focus, and all our energy is going to be on winning that trophy, it doesn’t matter where we start.

“Two big clubs playing each other, Chelsea are in a really good moment, they have come back so far this season to where they are. They are playing a really good level. We are going to go for it.’

Frank Lampard (Chelsea): “It will be strange to have no fans. We are getting used to it. We want fans back, but we have to respect current circumstances. The fact we are used to it means you can focus on what's in front. If you do win then the FA Cup title stays with you forever.”

Arsenal Predicted XI vs Chelsea

Martinez; Holding, Luiz, Tierney; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Saka; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang

Chelsea Predicted XI vs Arsenal

Caballero; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount, Giroud, Pulisic

Prediction: It seems much longer than a year ago that these two teams met in the Europa League final in Baku, and to all intents and purposes they are two different sides now. New managers, new personnel and new formations make this a fascinating tie with both desperate to end a transitional season with silverware. Both sides are notably top-heavy so there should be plenty of goals, but Chelsea should have the quality in midfield to edge it. 2-3, Chelsea win the cup!