By Spy Uganda
London: The curtains will be drawn on the 2019/20 domestic cup campaign in England this weekend as Arsenal go head to head against Chelsea at 19:30 pm GMT in an all-London FA Cup final at the Wembley Stadium, with both teams looking to end the season with silverware.
Arsenal stunned holders Manchester City 2-0 in the semi-finals, while Chelsea saw off Manchester United 3-1 to leave Mikel Arteta and Frank Lampard within one game of glory in their first seasons in charge.
Chelsea’s key aim was Champions League qualification, and a Premier League top-four finish means cup glory would be the icing on the cake for Lampard.
As for Arteta, there are definite signs of the coach imprinting his style and identity on Arsenal already but a worst League finish for 25 years has given the prospect of winning a record 13th FA Cup added importance.
Arsenal will once again be without Gabriel Martinelli, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari. Bernd Leno is unlikely to be available either, while Cedric Soares is cup-tied. However, Hector Bellerin is likely to be available for Saturday, after missing the Gunners’ final league game against Watford that ended in a 3-2 win.
Chelsea have been boosted by the return of N’Golo Kante, who is back to full fitness, while Willian has also recovered from an ankle problem to be available for selection. However, midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek misses out with a fresh injury. He joins youngster Billy Gilmour out on the sidelines.
Here’s how we expect the sides to line up:
Predicted Arsenal X (3-4-3): Martinez; Holding, Luiz, Tierney; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Predicted Chelsea XI (3-4-3): Caballero; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Pulisic, Giroud, Mount.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea
Given the two sides’ respective League form, Chelsea will be favorites. However, Arsenal’s recent wins against Liverpool and Man City show they are capable of beating any English team on their day.
Much will depend on how Chelsea sit up. If they plan to dominate possession with a high line as both Liverpool and City did, they could be caught out by Arsenal – so Lampard will have to tweak his tactics.
Should Lampard invite Arsenal out, Arteta’s likely gameplan of sitting back and countering will be tested to the limit.
Head to head history and results
Arsenal have won on 76 occasions, Chelsea 65, with 59 draws shared.
Of their FA Cup clashes, Arsenal have won nine to Chelsea’s five, with six draws.
Arsenal and Chelsea contested the 2017 FA Cup Final, with the Gunners winning 2-1 thanks to goals from Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey either side of a Diego Costa
That should give Frank Lampard’s men a slight advantage heading into the final of the FA Cup. And hence, The Hard Tackle is predicting a narrow 1-2 win for Chelsea the Blues.