Arsenal and Chelsea’s strengths both lie in attack, while their defences are both…questionable. Does this mean the FA Cup will be a goal-filled ding-dong?
Finals have a tendency to be tense affairs, tight tussles as teams try not to give too much away and perhaps are paralysed by fear.
But will this weekend’s FA Cup final be the complete opposite of that, because it can’t be anything else? Are we basically in for 90 minutes of chaos at Wembley?
“Chelsea and Arsenal this season are able to be very exciting [in attack], but a bit of a disaster in some moments in defence,” said Natalie Gedra on this week’s Totally Football Show. “Chelsea have the worst defensive stats in the top ten – they conceded 54, Arsenal conceded 48 – but both score a lot.
“The last time the two teams met, it was a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge. It showed how aggressive these two teams can be when they meet.
“Arsenal are too reliant on Aubameyang, so I think Chelsea have more options [in attack]. With Chelsea, you don’t really know who’s going to do something different up front.
“I’m guessing they’re going to take a few risks, because that’s just how they’ve been playing.”
While the strength of the respective defences might dictate what sort of game is played, Arsenal have had some success lately against theoretically better teams, with Mikel Arteta playing a cagier game against Liverpool in the Premier League and Manchester City in the semi-final, winning both games.
However, Daniel Storey doesn’t think too much can be read into those two games.
“It’s a small sample, but they have got pretty lucky [against Liverpool and Manchester City], particularly against Liverpool. It came with a huge number of missed chances, and the one thing Giroud isn’t doing at the moment is missing chances. Pulisic too. I think if Chelsea score first then it will be very hard for Arsenal to get back in the game.
“I guess Arteta will be torn between going out of the blocks really hard and try to overpower Chelsea, and worrying about getting caught on the counter.
“I think Arteta will say “we need to play on the front foot here.” Get Aubameyang on the ball, get Ceballos high up the pitch: the one thing they’re lacking is that chance-creator, so if Chelsea can keep Ceballos deep then Frank Lampard will be pretty happy.”
Natalie Gedra added: “I wonder how far Arteta will take this line of thought [against the big teams], because I know in the medium-long term, it’s not his idea for his Arsenal team. How many times will he put Arsenal out to defend? This is a final. Will he find the balance between the Arsenal that beat Manchester City, and the Arsenal he wants.”
The game is arguably bigger for Arsenal, if only because Chelsea have already qualified for Europe via the league, but Natalie wondered if it wouldn’t be the end of the world for Arteta’s side to have a little more time next season, particularly in what is looking like an extremely tight schedule.
“It would be a bit of a disaster financially, because they’ve showed Europe is a very important source of income.
“But on the other side, you could look to Chelsea a few seasons ago when they had no European football and they won the Premier League. I know the circumstances are different because there was no big Liverpool or Manchester City [team] in that period. The fans don’t want this, but it would be a chance to just focus on the Premier League and look for this improvement they’re searching for with Arteta.”
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