Arsenal Vs Chelsea: Breaking down every battle in the FA Cup Final

Arsenal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Photo by NEIL HALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Arsenal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Photo by NEIL HALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Arsenal, Alexandre Lacazette
Arsenal, Alexandre Lacazette (Photo by Mike Egerton/Pool via Getty Images) /

Arsenal Attack vs. Chelsea Defence

Alexandre Lacazette has been at his best in the false-nine role that he has played in recent weeks. It looks very different in and out of possession. Out of possession, his battle will track Joringho. Like he did against Manchester City and Ilkay Gundogan, he will drop into the midfield and shadow the Italian wherever he goes.

When Jorginho isn’t able to dictate the game, the Chelsea possession scheme breaks down almost instantly, with their sparse midfield often unable to pick up the scraps. That’s where Lacazette and Arsenal will be able to spark their counter-attack, a crucial component if they are to win this match.

In possession, Lacazette will often come face-to-face with his countryman Kurt Zouma. This is where the Gunners have a real advantage. Zouma lunges into tackles and gives away silly fouls with frightening regularity. For a player like Lacazette, who uses his low centre of gravity and strength to spin defenders, Zouma’s aggressive defensive style is ideal.

Zouma has looked revitalized in the past few matches as the central defender in the back three, but he was bullied against both West Ham and Liverpool, two teams with centre-forwards — Michail Antonio and Roberto Firmino — who excel with their back to goal, using their strength and footwork to regulate possession from the middle of the park. Lacazette has a serious opportunity to emulate such impact.

The final matchup is twofold: the speed and skill of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe against Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta. If Lampard’s previous team selections are an accurate precedent, Pepe will have the run against Rudiger, and Aubameyang will get to drive at Azpilicueta for 90 minutes. That’s an amazing prospect.

Chelsea’s backline have been extremely susceptible to the counter-attack this season, especially when the space behind their advanced wing-backs is exposed. With Zouma sucked into the midfield to deal with Lacazette, the outside-in runs both Pepe and Aubameyany specialize in could be the ideal tool to carve them apart. Furthermore, the looping crosses Pepe loves to deliver to the back post will more often than not fall to Aubameyang’s feet should he slip Azpilicueta’s attention.

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And should Tierney and Saka deliver crosses to the feet of Pepe, the Ivorian will likely be open. Rudiger has a bad habit of ball-watching on crosses and Pepe has shown how lethal his finishing can be when he’s allowed to drift in off the right. Chelsea are just as weak as Arsenal across the backline, and the Gunners have the pieces to cause them problems.