Number 14 holds up number 14
Arsenal loves the FA Cup, but boy does the FA Cup also love Arsenal.
We are the THE FA Cup team. We were before yesterday, we’re even more so now.
What a great win that was, and what a shame it could not have played out in front of 100,000 screaming fans.
We went into the game as slight underdogs despite our heroics in the semi final against Man City.
There was more at stake for us because Chelsea had secured Champions League football and we needed a win to get us into the Europa League.
A similar pressure situation last season played out with us losing 4-1 to Chelsea in the Europa League Final in the arse end of nowhere. In that game we needed to win to get into the Champions League, but we choked badly.
Not so yesterday.
The key difference between the two finals was, of course, the head coach.
Apparently when asked if he suffered from being too indecisive, Unai Emery answered: “I’m not sure. Can I think about it and get back to you?”
Whatever fates conspired to bring us Mikel Arteta as our manager in December last year, I’m just glad they did. Almost from his first game in charge we have looked more organised, more together and more like a team that has a plan.
And all his hard work culminated yesterday in an achievement that can’t be understated. If we had lost I would probably be here trying to rationalise about how a year out of Europe and concentrating on the Premier League might be a good thing.
But let’s be honest. This is a MASSIVE win.
Our hugely promising new boss gets a trophy in his first season. We get European football and the extra £40 million that goes with it. We probably get to keep Aubameyang and our Europa League presence makes it easier to sign the new players we want.
And so to yesterday’s game.
I have been present to see us play Chelsea in two FA Cup finals: once at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, in 2002 and once at Wembley in 2017. Both occasions turned out to be memorable.
For the 2020 final I could not be there in person (nor could any Gooner), but it was just as memorable a win.
Arteta picked a team with few surprises. He went for maximum experience up front (Auba-Laca-Pepe) and most of the other positions picked themselves. Only the inclusion of Ainsley Maitland-Niles ahead of Saka raised a few eyebrows, but AMN had earned his place with his performance against Man City.
Within minutes of the kick-off we could have been one up when a cross from AMN on the left found Aubameyang at the near post, a yard ahead of his defender. Auba failed to connect properly with the header and it went wide.
After that, everything started to go wrong.
Chelsea seized control of midfield and looked hungrier than us and, dare I say it, more skillful. Mount, Pulisic and Kovacic were pulling us apart and running through the gaps in our MF at will.
Xhaka was caught dwelling on the ball, leading to an early chance for Mount. Minutes later the Blues were ahead after a slick move that ended with Pulisic chipping over Martinez.
We looked so ragged in the opening 15 minutes that I can’t have been alone in fearing another Baku.
The one sign of encouragement was that it was not our defence that was at fault (for a change) but our midfield.
Gradually, though, we settled into the game. I would need to watch a replay to figure out whether we started doing something different in midfield or whether we just upped our commitment level as a team (perhaps the more tech savvy among you can explain).
Whatever it was, we began to dominate the game from the 15 minute mark onwards. Pepe was unlucky not to have got himself a cup final goal when his stunning shot into the Chelsea net was correctly ruled out for an earlier narrow offside.
We barely had time to get over that disappointment when we got a clear penalty. A ball over the top sent Aubameyang racing towards goal. Azpilicueta tried to foul him outside the box but Auba was strong enough to keep going so the Chelsea captain fouled him inside the box as well.
VAR ruminated, but it was a bang on penalty. Azpilicueta was spared a red card because of the “double jeopardy” rule (the officials decided he had been making an honest attempt to get the ball, which is pretty debatable).
I could barely watch as Auba ran up, but amid all the pressure of a cup final, and knowing how important it was for Arsenal to win this game, he was as cool as a cucumber and slotted a perfect, unstoppable penalty into the side netting.
We were back on terms and pressing so hard for a second that it was a disappointment when half time came.
The second half started pretty even. At times we sat back and let Chelsea dominate possession, but we allowed few clear-cut chances. Meanwhile we looked dangerous going forward.
In a season during which the gods of football have seldom been kind to Arsenal, they seemed to be smiling on us at Wembley.
Chelsea lost their captain, Azpilicueta, and their most dangerous player, Pulisic, to hamstring pulls and that must have interfered with Frank Lampard’s plans for the game.
But the goal that gave us the lead (and eventually the Cup itself) was down to absolute top class play by three Arsenal players.
Bellerin broke from deep in our own half at speed, leaving two Chelsea players for dead with a brilliant poke-ahead nutmeg as he surged towards the opposition penalty area. The ball was almost out of his control but his bravery in going into a 50/50 saw it pop out to Pepe, whose first couple of touches were pure class, after which he rolled a perfectly-weighted pass into the path of our captain.
Aubameyang’s next moves were sublime. He feinted to cut inside, leaving Zouma doing the zumba in an empty dancehall, then switched back onto his left foot and dinked the ball over Caballero with consummate skill.
What a joy it was to see that trademark somersault celebration twice in an FA Cup final.
The balance tipped further in Arsenal’s favour when Kovacic was harshly sent off for a second yellow (his first yellow was justified, but the second was not even a foul).
Ten man Chelsea huffed and puffed, but we never looked like letting them get back into it, even though my heart was pumping like a piston engine in the last 10 minutes. The most dangerous moment from the Blues was in the dying minutes when Pedro cut into our box along the goal line, but the oh-so-impressive Martinez dived at his feet to smother the chance, leaving the unfortunate Pedro with what looked like a dislocated shoulder.
It was a metaphor for the game. Overall, Arteta’s strategy and the new sense of togetherness in our team combined to smother Chelsea and dislocate young Frankie Lampard’s best-laid plans.
So there you have it.
Our 14th FA Cup win. We love that competition. And that competition loves us.
I think I’m a bit in love with big Emi. He made excellent saves as always (one full length dive to stop a shot from Mount was outstanding) and he actually catches crosses instead of punching them! Late on he dived fearlessly at Pedro’s feet to protect our lead. He even cried in his post-match interview. Make no mistake, we have two Number One ‘keepers at our club now.
What is it with this lad and the Cup Final? He played a blinder against Chelsea in 2017 and did the same yesterday. Fought for everything, made no mistakes and even looked fast at times.
Let’s be honest, we were all worried before the game, weren’t we? Was it going to be Loco Luiz the one-man apocalypse, or Dependable David, the man who kept Man City at bay? Thank goodness it was the latter. The Brazilian didn’t put a foot wrong.
Such an honest player as well as a talented one. If there’s one thing we’ve been missing in recent years at Arsenal it’s players like Tierney who make no fuss, but give every drop of blood, sweat and tears for the cause. I’m sure Nigel Winterburn is proud of him.
Fine effort from Hector and without his skill and bravery the winning goal would not have happened. He’s had an in-and-out season but made a full contribution yesterday.
Justified his selection. He was dangerous going forward (particularly in the first half) and worked very hard on the defensive end. There were stories a few weeks ago saying he wanted to leave Arsenal. I suspect that if Arteta tells him he sees a positive future for him at Arsenal, he’ll stay.
I was tempted to mark him down for his sloppiness in the first 10 minutes, but in truth the whole team was slow getting into this game. After that he was excellent. His control and distribution was as good as we’ve come to expect but I particularly liked his committed tackling and the way he managed to do this without the recklessness that attracts cards.
Terrific outing from Dani. He has become a vital component in linking defence to attack but I also love his tackling and his tracking back, even very late in the game when he must have been running on fumes. Sometimes his effort reminded me of those dogged, all-action midfielders we had in the early George Graham era (Rocastle, Thomas, Davis, Williams).
So unlucky not to be on the scoresheet. He is starting to influence games more and seems to be using the ball more intelligently (signs of Arteta’s coaching paying off?). The up side with Pepe is that there still seems to be plenty of scope for him to improve.
Laca’s tireless work in chasing down the Chelsea defenders and working to keep moves going when we were in possession could easily go unnoticed, but it was a vital element in our win.
Aubameyang 9.5 MoTM
It would have been a 10 for the captain but for that missed header early on. What a player. This will probably always be known as the “Aubameyang Final.” It was his first trophy with Arsenal and will surely go a long way towards convincing him to sign an extension with us.
Got 10 minutes in a cup final, which can’t be a bad thing at his stage of development. Looked sharp and was unlucky that the ref ignored several blatant fouls on him.
Came on for Luiz and had one or two good moments in what was probably his last game as a Gunner.
Came on with one minute to go, but I can’t mark him down when he played in a team that’s just won the Cup!
Great read, great game, great day, great wife, great cat, great hmmm, great everything……
Well, I did not expect us to win that, I feel guilty for being so negative and when they scored so easily I feared the worst but was glad I had not raised my expectations too high.
But then, talk about pendulum swing violently in the opposite direction: their captain gets injured and has to go off, their key striker gets injured and has to go off, they get a man sent off for leg breaking lunge at Xhaka! Somedays things just go your way.
Football is back in my heart and I am loving it.
“…great wife, great cat…” 😀 😀 😀
I understand exactly.
That’s how I feel (about my wife, of course, although I’m sure yours is lovely).
Nice one, Rocky!
I’m sooo happy… and a very proud gooner. I will wear one of my shirts today (& possibly for the next month or so 😄), and if it wasn’t so hot, I’d wear my beloved scarf too!!
Ooh to be
Ooh to be a gooner ❤
Our 14th FA Cup.
Special Star & Arsenal’s captain: No.14 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
And for those who missed this in comments yesterday, let’s not forget that there was another hilarious benefit of winning the FA Cup:
“Arsenal’s win in the FA Cup final yesterday was not only good news for Gunners fans, but doubly good, as it plunged their fierce North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur into the Europa League qualifiers.
Tottenham will now enter at the second qualifying stage, having to play three one-off ties if they are to find themselves in the Europa League group stages, courtesy of Arsenal’s FA Cup success.
The first game will take place on September 17th and Tottenham could find themselves playing against some unfamiliar opposition.
Indeed, there is every chance that Tottenham find themselves up against the likes of Progres Niederkorn, Sutjeska Niksic or TSC Backa Topola.
Tottenham are not the only big side who will enter the competition at this stage. AC Milan, Rangers, and Galatasaray are all present in the same section of the draw.”
Brilliant! Thanks Rocky.
A match report fitting for a game, an occasion, an achievement, a final and definitive sign that Arsenal is on its way back to the top.
Love the “Zouma doing the zumba in an empty dancehall” line …. I have my yellow ribbon proudly waving from my car aerial.
When was the last time we went into a summer break feeling more than content with our team, I shall savour every minute before the new season starts and its all down to Mikel and the boys,
Celebrations and a couple of weeks rest for our team and it is back to pre-season training.
We will be back at Wembley stadium in around a month’s time for the 2020 FA Community Shield is on 29th August against Liverpool. While the new season 2020/21 kicks off on 12th September (with a mid-season break in February, and ends on 23rd May 2021).
Great read Rocky!
I’m not sure there was much of a tactical switch that saw us dominate the game after the Chelsea goal. I think it was more of a natural reaction from both sets of players with Chelsea sitting on their lead a little bit after an electric start which couldn’t be maintained, and the Arsenal players finding their urgency after realising the game had kicked off and we were 1-0 down!
What was obvious though was that we were looking to use our pace in behind Azpilicueta and we were happy to go long at times in order to turn their high press. Suddenly we were getting onto second balls which was allowing us to build in their half. It worked so well that Azpilicuetas hamstring gave in after 30 minutes!!
It wasn’t all long ball though. We played some fantastic football through their press at times, especially down our left side. If I remember correctly the Pepe non-goal was a brilliant build up through their press and there were other times where we worked the ball through them. It was risky at times but when we get it right it really does open the opposition up.
It feels years ago since we were watching Emery’s team panicking in their own box! Arteta’s Arsenal doesn’t panic. It has poise and composure on the ball, and even after going behind it doesn’t rush or throw men forward and expose itself to counters like Wenger’s teams often did. It has the control that Emery often talked about but could never deliver, mixed with the energy, fitness, and closing down that Arteta demands from all his players….even the ones who speak German, wear the number 10, and think that football is only about having the ball….👀
£56m we paid for Aubameyang.
Chelsea paid £60m for Morata.
The transfer market really is a lottery.
Great report Rocky.
Fantastic result. Only one team in it after 15 minutes. Pulisic’s injury took away the pace that could hurt us.
PEA motm. Outstanding performance
Great read, great game, great dogs, and even more sickening for the trophy dodgers down the lane.
Thanks FGG, Pete and dickie
The sky is cloudy today but all I can see is sunshine 😀
Called Karma remember when jorginho was supposed to be sent off for his foul on lacazette
I had not realised that Keir Starmer was an Arsenal fan.
Given that Corbyn was as well, does this make it a pre-requisite of bring leader of the Labour Party?
Well they are reds Rocky
“We’ll keep the red (and white) flag flying here…”
Was there a great tactical switch on 15 minutes? Possibly, or was it just the way we were set out to combat Chelsea’s full press and high line eventually coming to fruition. Thing is whenever we played Barca’s full press we rarely saw them tire. But we rarely changed our pass pass pass at the back and into midfield making sure Barca players never had to run more than twenty yards.
What was different yesterday and perhaps made possible by Arteta’s experience learning under Pep and knowing what their weakness was, we did the pass pass pass thing at the back forcing their forwards and midfielders to chase down but the final pass was not into our midfielders who had dropped short already with players tight it was long over their defence giving our wide men chance to support the attack or pester their defenders. Meaning their defenders were chasing hard back and their midfielders were having to turn and chase back too. That variation started to make Chelsea players question their actions, their midfield stopped pushing as high the forwards were not supported in their press and suddenly we had space and time to pick better over the top passes and occasionally go short to midfield.
Thought it was a very measured performance what was particularly good for me was seeing their heads hold high after conceding. So here is a question, would that have happened if there was a stadium full of buoyant Chelsea fans and dejected Arsenal fans? Could this period of playing behind close doors be a blessing in disguise? A period where they have the chance to continue following managers instructions without the complaint of the crowds when it goes badly? A spell of a few months where sticking to the plan with no outside influences will surely become more inbuilt/muscle memory or should that be brain memory?
I also feel Arteta has set the team up to get best out of Auba, there is an element of one trick pony about him, it is a very good trick and seemingly difficult to defend but in reality he is never going to be an out and out centre forward in the PL his hold up play is non existent, and his passing in the final third is frankly woeful, but running into channels with passes coming behind the opposition back line he is stardust. I think Arteta knows he is his finisher, so the rest of the team has to be setup to get him in the right position, and if that means AMN over Saka for a bit more defensive grit then so be it.
For me Arteta was the right man when Wenger left, I’m glad we got there eventually after the brief foray into Emery and his dossier of improvement. Arteta looks at the whole rather than the individuals and he is focussed on getting shape and style right first. The cherries can come when he gets the basic right. But many players have improved measurably since his arrival, I don’t fear not having much money to spend as Arteta can clearly improve the players at his disposal currently.
1. Another FA Cup
2. A first trophy for Arteta and Arteta’s Arsenal
3. A qualification to the EL and making life for Spurs more difficult in that compteition
4. An extra bit of cash …
What is not to like besides the first 15 mins of the game?
I am elated and relieved. This trophy goes to show that:
1. Our players are not that bad
2. Emery really could not get the best out of his group
3. Arteta has brought calm, poise, structure and belief to the squad and club
4. We love the FA Cup
Just a few words about:
1. Martinez who has been a rock for us since Leno got injured
2. Pepe who had a brilliant game going forward but also defending
3. AMN who is having somewhat of a resurgence
4. Our new resilient mentality
5. Tierney who had a good season since back from injury
What fantastic way to finish the season! On a high and with belief!
I am hoping that the board will now back Arteta and that Edu also makes sure to bring in Arteta’s wanted players for next season.
Arteta needs to axe some players out of the squad but who will they be? Tough choices but there are also some certainties regarding Sokratis, Guendouzi and Ozil now…There is a big positive for us also with the current crop of young players that showed they could compete in the EPL and Cups like Saka and Martinelli.
Can’t wait for the transfer season to unfold and for football to resume. I d love for us to start with a Charity Shield victory against Liverpool.
COYG! CO Arteta! Stay on Auba!
And following on from the 1 trophy in 8 months spurs in 21 years.
Arteta in charge at Arsenal for 8 months – 1 major trophy
Arsenal – 9 major trophies
Spurs – 1 major trophy
Or since 1990
Arsenal – 15 major trophies
Spurs – 3 major trophies
Does make you wonder what it’s like to support them.
George (age 7) has been alive watching Arsenal win as many trophies (4) as a Spurs fan who is 40 years old
Harry (age 5) has as many (3) as a Spurs fan who is 37.
Forever in Our Shadow at SHL. Can you imagine what Levy is having to do financially to make the purchase of the stadium and financing the debt feasible, no fans, no NFL, no additional matchday revenues in the club shop, wonder if he is regretting the extra 1000 seats?
You took my words Fred!
Karma……I watched the match in a group with a Chelsea fan who threw out his dummy and went home for the rest of the match after the red card. I agreed with his poor refereeing on The Xhaka incident but reminded him of Jorginho kicking lumps off our players all round the park, scoring the winner for Chelsea but not getting a yellow until far too late – that’s football with our referees of today, but he was off!
Top marks Mikel, Auba and the lads. Now can’t wait to see the recruits and how we set up next season – exciting times!
Lovely write-up. Loco-Luiz and Dependable David got me rolling on the floor
Thanks Rocky. A thoroughly enjoyable day even if the Vines boys were missing a final together for many, many years.
Dani was my man of the match, and interested in views on two of the incidences. As he went in for his first tackle both of Kovacic’s feet were off the ground. Several got straight reds this season for this.
Antony Taylor pointed to the Chelsea defender running back in answer to Dani and Co asking for a red. He gave the penalty and VAR cannot overrule with or without “double jeopardy” if the onfield decision is yellow.
Loved this write ( smiled all the way through it) Loved LB reply ( exactly how I felt) I I LOVED the Martinez Vid. I hope they give him all the cup games & perhaps 1 game a month & see how they both go ( I think he is better than Leno in several area’s)
Also little bonus from Yesterday is that Spurs now have to go through the Qualifying games to get into the EL proper
I knew I could rely on you. This is simply brilliant analysis (and better than anything the TV commentary team could come up with):
“What was different yesterday and perhaps made possible by Arteta’s experience learning under Pep and knowing what their weakness was, we did the pass pass pass thing at the back forcing their forwards and midfielders to chase down but the final pass was not into our midfielders who had dropped short already with players tight it was long over their defence giving our wide men chance to support the attack or pester their defenders. Meaning their defenders were chasing hard back and their midfielders were having to turn and chase back too. That variation started to make Chelsea players question their actions, their midfield stopped pushing as high the forwards were not supported in their press and suddenly we had space and time to pick better over the top passes and occasionally go short to midfield.”
Thank you for the comments. What a great day to be an Arsenal fan!
I wonder if that first Kovacic challenge might have been a red card if it was not the Cup Final?
Excellent and very enjoyabe summary. Thanks Rocky!
Ohh mate…. I can’t tell you how proud I am.
I wish Auba staying now.
And I hope Laca will find more goals in the coming season. He really wa ted to score yesterday worked his socks of. I felt for him when he was substituted
And you kow what, there were no signs of self-destruction. Such a freedom from anxiety.
Hey, we did it! 🙂
Top read GIE
Glad someone else has noticed Auba’s passing in the final third, totally agree, although, I didn’t have the courage to say it.
Just a word on Pepe:
– 42 games played
– 8 goals and 10 assists
– Not a stellar season, not a great season but a good season and I agree that he can be one of our best players next year, hopefully along side Auba 🙂
Just a word on Auba:
– Arteta is confident he will stay
– But Auba wants a bumper deal and the assurance that high calibre players will join and he is also keen to play through the middle next year so let us see…but if we play with 3 at back then, we could see a 3412 with Pepe-Auba up front and then a new player or Ceba in the hole behind them. If it is a new player, I think Arteta would be keen to bring in Grealish or maybe Havertz (imagine the Blues face!)?
Anyways…keep smiling 🙂
Rocky – your posts are really great to read, love the humour and one-liners – epic just like our win
LB : Happy to stick my neck out and run for cover 😀 shows not many read it that yours is the only comment. Players can have weaknesses and still be effective, if you could merge Giroud, PEA and Pepe you’d have Henry. And we all know players like him only come round once in a blue moon. Recently watched a compilation of Henry’s variety of skills it really is unbelievable to watch.
Rocky : thanks for that, and thanks for the report, I think we all thoroughly enjoyed the experience, it was very calm here even when Chelsea took the lead. As I intimated earlier watching football without histrionic crowds is enjoyable. I fear football crowds are following the mainstream of public reactionism which seems to be hyper sensitivity to everything outside their view or their perfect world and dramatic overreactions.
RC this play through the middle assurances stuff? Do we really believe it? Does Auba? How many more goals does he think he would score? If he was best for that position wouldn’t Arteta drop Laca play Saka and PEA up top?
I recall the Theo situation it never worked for him up top but playing wide did.
A super positive post, with some truism’s in there- on both sides.
LB- you got that right-think of the song.
Sue, always like your upbeat posts and emoji’s.
fgg, you have a keen eye. The passing from the back for the Pepe goal was there for all to see but you mentioned it. It was as good as the one against the oilers.
GIE, are you a coach?
RC78, thank you for pointing out the spuds reality-always looking up.
Super team win for all Fans, Players, Coaches and Support personnel.
Auba just scores, hope he stays, I know I said wanted him sold, but how much will it cost to replace those goals, or to buy world class defenders? Too much.
Just going to be satisfied with this FA Cup Win for a long time.
Do not need to say it, “enjoy your Sunday everyone.”
Rc78 I don’t agree with emery couldn’t game the best out of the players he did carry us to Europa finals
Aaron never took my badges (sadly) but played to a fairly decent level as a keeper.
Thanks, Aaron, nice one 👍
The future is bright 😎
@Fred – Emery managed to save appearances with that final but he ended with no silverware and we were already struggling with him after 8 months…When he was appointed, I was skeptical because of the mess he left PSG in and the way the PSG players were relieved/almost celebrated when he left. When Laurent Blanc left PSG, players were upset.
Aaron – top comment!
A rocky post after such a big win…icing on the cake. Love it!
Jesus christ did we need that. I feel like I’ve been dragging a lead plate around all season so i can only imagine how arteta and some of the players have felt.
It players worked their socks off but in all honesty we really were kissed on the dick by a fairy prior to running out there. The injuries, the red card…it all worked out. That’s to take nothing from the players but it is nice to have something go in our favour for once. I feel like we’ve been belted by lady luck ever since eduardo’s injury.
Please for the love of bergkamp – sign da ting auba!!!
“kissed on the dick by a fairy” 😀