Arsenal won their second trophy in August as the FA Cup winners beat Premier League champions Liverpool 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the Community Shield.

Just 28 days after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck twice to sink Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley, the Gunners triumphed in the new season's curtain-raiser in north London.

Mikel Arteta's side were forced to do it the hard way, with Takumi Minamino's first Liverpool goal having cancelled out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's 12th-minute opener.

However, Rhian Brewster – who has enjoyed a fine pre-season for Liverpool – missed his spot-kick, setting the stage for Aubameyang to wrap up another Wembley triumph for the Gunners.

Virgil van Dijk – sporting a cut to his forehead sustained in the pre-season clash with Salzburg last time out – had the ball in the net after seven minutes, but the flag was up for offside.

James Milner should have done better with a close-range header soon after, and Liverpool were quickly made to pay.

Having beaten Liverpool's press, Arsenal progressed down the right before Bukayo Saka picked out Aubameyang with a superb crossfield pass.

It left Neco Williams isolated up against Aubameyang, who stepped inside and curled a sublime 20-yard finish beyond Alisson.

Roberto Firmino sent a wicked strike just wide following the restart, with Emiliano Martinez then rushing off his line to deny Sadio Mane.

Naby Keita and Minamino were introduced as Liverpool looked to take the initiative, and the changes soon paid off.

After attempting to play a tight one-two with Mohamed Salah, Minamino was on hand to slot in after the rebound fell his way – VAR allowing the goal to stand after a check for handball.

Martinez made another superb stop from Mane moments later, while Joe Willock went close with a header at the other end as penalties were required.

Yet it was Arsenal who triumphed – Brewster, brought on to take a spot-kick, hitting the crossbar with his effort, with Aubameyang coolly sending Alisson the wrong way to condemn Liverpool to defeat.

Emiliano Martinez and Ainsley Maitland-Niles have both been selected to start for Arsenal in the Community Shield clash with Liverpool, who are without Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Goalkeeper Martinez impressed at the end of 2019-20 while filling in for the injured Bernd Leno, but has reportedly asked for a move away from Arsenal in order to secure first-team football.

Aston Villa are among the teams to have been linked with a move for the Argentinian, though despite the speculation over his future – and Leno's return to fitness – Mikel Arteta picked Martinez to start in Saturday's encounter with the Premier League champions.

Maitland-Niles is another Gunners player potentially on the move, with Wolves and Newcastle United apparently interested in the versatile midfielder, though he too was chosen to start on his 23rd birthday.

Rob Holding – who is reportedly set to join Newcastle on loan for the season – was picked alongside David Luiz in defence, while Mohamed Elneny was something of a surprise inclusion for the FA Cup winners, who are captained by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

New signing William Saliba was named on the bench.

Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, picked full-back Neco Williams in his starting XI, with Alexander-Arnold having failed to recover from a minor injury.

Virgil van Dijk lines up despite sustaining a knock to the head in pre-season, while Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are all playing from the off for Liverpool.

Rhian Brewster, who scored twice from the bench as Liverpool came from behind to draw 2-2 with Salzburg in a friendly last time out, is among the substitutes, as is recent arrival Kostas Tsimikas.

The Football Association has announced there will be no replays in the FA Cup next season.

With the coronavirus pandemic having led to an adjusted schedule for 2020-21, the FA has taken the decision to scrap replays in order to ease the pressure on clubs.

Qualification for England's major cup competition will begin on September 1, with the first round proper taking place in November.

Premier League clubs will enter as usual in the third round, to be played in early January, with the final scheduled for May 15, 2021.

The FA also announced that, after record prize funds for the last two seasons, the reward money has gone back to the level it was in 2017-18, due to the financial impact of COVID-19.

Mikel Arteta has challenged Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to stay at Arsenal and become a club great.

Aubameyang scored both goals – as he did in the semi-final win over Manchester City – as Arsenal completed a stirring 2-1 FA Cup final triumph over Chelsea on Saturday.

The former Borussia Dortmund forward has 70 goals in all competitions since joining the Gunners in January 2018, but his future is the subject of mounting speculation.

Aubameyang is out of contract next year, although Arteta has repeatedly expressed confidence the Gabon international is ready to remain at Emirates Stadium.

After his superb winning goal downed London rivals Chelsea, he was challenged by his head coach to place himself alongside the likes of Ian Wright and Thierry Henry in Arsenal history.

"It's the most difficult thing in football, that's for sure, and he makes it simple – look at the second goal he scored," Arteta said.

"We always had incredible strikers at this football club and Auba deserves to be named and compared with the big names.

"By winning trophies he will be closer to that and the longer he stays there as well.

"Hopefully we can have him for more time."

Arteta also made a point of praising Aubameyang's work ethic – the captain leading by example in a squad where the likes of Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi have fallen shy of their boss' exacting standards.

"The biggest problem as well was probably to convince [Aubameyang] to work the way he is working," Arteta added.

"He was going to get more rewarded, more respected and then that respect goes from respect to admiration – admiration from his team-mates, the people who work with him and the fans.

"I think now, the way he is conducting himself on and off the field, he has got that."

Frank Lampard has implored the Premier League to push back the start of the 2020-21 season for clubs still competing in Europe.

Lampard's Chelsea travel to face Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League on Saturday, albeit with limited hopes of reaching the quarter-finals as they face up to a 3-0 deficit from February's first leg.

Manchester City face Real Madrid 24 hours earlier at the Etihad Stadium, 2-1 to the good and with a more realistic tilt at playing in the final in Lisbon on August 23.

Manchester United and Wolves remain in the Europa League, which concludes on August 21 in Cologne.

Lampard, who will be without captain Cesar Azpilicueta and winger Christian Pulisic at Bayern after both sustained hamstring injuries during Saturday's 2-1 FA Cup final loss to Arsenal, believes the Premier League's stipulated start date of September 12 for next season is much too soon in that context.

"The players need to be given a break to play at the level of the quality product that the Premier League is," he said.

"Even in the worst-case scenario that we don’t go through against Bayern, the 12th feels too early for us to start playing again.

"The players need a break. That's why we're pulling two hamstrings and having players pulling out of the game before this.

"I would like to think the Premier League will look seriously at that and hopefully give us a fair start for next season.

"I think it's something we deserve for being a Premier League club competing in the Champions League."

Despite ending his first domestic campaign in charge of Chelsea on a dispiriting note, Lampard was keen to hail the season as a success on the whole, with the Blues securing Champions League qualification for next season despite being placed under a transfer embargo before the start of 2019-20.

"I'm delighted with the season and I've wanted to keep that within for the last week as I don't like to get too excited when there's a big game coming up," he said, despite accusing his team of "complacency" after failing to capitalise upon Pulisic's early opener at Wembley.

"But we have to reflect on a season going into it where people didn’t expect us to be in the top four. There were unknowns, the transfer ban, other clubs around us moving forward with recruitment when we couldn't.

"You can lose a final, we've lost a final and that's frustrating for us. But there's a bigger picture that we're working to and we've seen lots of good things.

"The players should be proud of how they've competed. The league position is a huge plus because, let's get it right, not many people gave us that chance at the start.

"Now we have to look to get better. [The FA Cup final] showed us there definitely is room to get better."

Any progress next term looks increasingly likely to take place without long-serving winger Willian.

The Brazil international is out of contract and has been linked with Arsenal, although Lampard is in the dark over his former team-mate's next move.

"I know the situation from the club's end, I've got a great relationship with Willian but I do not know what that decision is," he added.

"He's been brilliant for me this season but it is his choice and I respect his choice. He's been a great servant for Chelsea if he decides to move on."

 On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT

  

Mental exhaustion or not enough effort on the field?

  England beat the West Indies by 269 runs and took the series 2-1 to reclaim the Wisden Trophy forever. Windies captain Jason Holder, speaking at the end of the third Test, said, “It’s been challenging, it’s been really challenging, mentally some of the guys are a bit worn out.”

Though I agree it is difficult to play any sport during a pandemic and acknowledge the upheaval, surrounding social injustice issues, taking place, to simply attribute the Windies poor result to these issues is unacceptable. I agree the current climate is different than what anyone has ever experienced before but the Windies loss was brought about by a lack of team effort on the field.

Holder went on to say, “It could be this way for a little while, so we’ve got to find ways to make it work. Hopefully, things could ease up throughout the world and probably guys can get out of the hotel a little bit more, but it has been challenging for sure.”

 Each match was played behind closed doors with players unable to feed off the crowd’s energy.  While I agree that the conditions in which they played were not ideal, as professional athletes they knew the job at hand was to retain the Wisden trophy and play smart cricket. 

The Windies made a great start to their tour with a win, at the Rose Bowl, but England found form in Manchester. The shortcomings of the Windies batsmen in English conditions were exposed numerous times. They conceded first-innings leads of 182 in the second test and 172 in the series decider. The most discouraging factor was the batsmen's inability to capitalize on the numerous starts that they got as a few of the batsmen did make half-centuries. The key difference between both squads was when England got opportunities, they went big, for example, Ben Stokes and Dom Sibley.

England’s bowlers were fresh and eager throughout and that ensured their dominance of the series. A key factor in England’s success was the class of bowlers that were available to choose from as well as the effective rotation of those bowlers. It was useful that none of England’s bowlers bowled in more than two matches – not even Ben Stokes and Dom Bess, who played every game but were not required to bowl.  In the case of the Windies, our bowlers were overworked and two of our key bowlers most notably, Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder, were struggling with niggles.

Though the mental strain of being away from their families and playing the game during the pandemic may have affected the Windies players’ performance, I don’t believe is it the main reason they lost the series.

 

Arsenal has aced the recipe for FA Cup success

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is hoping the FA Cup victory on Saturday will convince captain Pierre Emerick Aubameyang to stay at the club after they beat Chelsea 2-1. The Gunners captain scored twice to seal the win, taking his team to a 14th FA Cup success. Aubameyang has less than a year left on his contract and his future at the club has been a topic of discussion.

On Saturday, when Aubameyang dropped the trophy before raising it above his head, Arteta joked, “He needs more experience with trophies, we can get him more used to that.” Chelsea’s manager Frank Lampard also commended Aubameyang on his match-winning performance. The North Londoners have now landed a spot in UEFA’s second-tier competition next season. 

This triumph has rectified some of the problems Arsenal had this season, especially after finishing 8th in the Premier League.

 

 The TKR captaincy fits Polly

Kieron Pollard will continue to lead the Trinbago Knight Riders for CPL 2020. Last year, Pollard replaced Dwayne Bravo as captain after he was ruled out with a finger injury.  The decision was a beneficial one and a team with a fit Bravo and Pollard can yield success.

Bravo, who led the team to three CPL titles previously, expressed to the owner that he would rather focus on his game, while Pollard leads the team. I think it is a perfect fit for the team as Pollard and Bravo are great friends and a healthy Bravo with Pollard at the helm puts TKR in a position to win another CPL title.

Pollard has scored 1759 runs in 70 matches, at a strike rate of 148.56. He is the 6th highest run-scorer in the history of the tournament. With the ball, Bravo is the leading wicket-taker with 97 scalps in 69 games. Together both players can use their individual achievements and personalities to get the best of the unit as they seek a 4th CPL title.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks like he has already decided to pursue an Arsenal exit, according to Manchester United great Rio Ferdinand.

Having already inspired Arsenal's FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City, the Gabon international scored both goals as the Gunners came from behind to defeat rivals Chelsea 2-1 in Saturday's final at Wembley.

It capped a superb season for the club captain, who has scored 29 goals across all competitions and been prolific ever since signing from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.

The future of Aubameyang has been intensely debated as he is out of contract in 12 months, with the Gunners not in next season's Champions League, though this win ensured they do at least reach the Europa League.

In an on-pitch interview prior to lifting the trophy, Aubameyang, 31, insisted he had nothing to say when asked to clarify his future.

Ferdinand felt the implication was clear.

"That says he is gone," the former Manchester United and England defender told BT Sport after Arsenal's record 14th FA Cup triumph. 

"[He said], 'I'm going to enjoy this moment with my team-mates and I don't want to talk about my future'.

"That says to me I just feel like either there have been no negotiations up to now, which I don't believe, or he has already decided he is going to go.

"I'm just talking about my perspective. If I am committed to the club and staying, this is a moment for me to get it sorted out [and say], 'It is not done yet but I am going to get it sorted out here guys'.

"He won't thank me for saying it, but he sounded like someone who is already looking to go elsewhere.

"Arsenal need to do all they can to get this guy to stay - 70 goals in 109 appearances says it all. And the way he finished [the second goal against Chelsea], Jesus, it was unbelievable."

Christian Pulisic and Cesar Azpilicueta will miss Chelsea's Champions League clash with Bayern Munich after limping off in Saturday's 2-1 FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal.

Captain Azpilicueta pulled up with a hamstring injury five minutes after giving away a penalty that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted to kickstart Arsenal's comeback.

And Pulisic, the scorer of Chelsea's early opener at Wembley, also made way four minutes into the second half with an identical issue sustained as he was charging through on goal.

Pedro then suffered a suspected dislocated shoulder late on and Frank Lampard has ruled the trio out of next Saturday's last-16 second leg with Bayern, which Chelsea will start trailing 3-0 on aggregate.

"I don't know the full extent of the injuries, but I know its the hamstrings with Azpi and Christian," he said at his post-match news conference.

"They have to be scanned and assessed over the next few days. They clearly won't be fit for next week."

Pedro, who was given oxygen as he was stretchered off the field, is expected to join Roma on a free transfer when his Chelsea contract expires later this month.

"I believe it could be a dislocated shoulder but don't go too soon on that," Lampard said when asked for an update on the forward's condition.

"I've not seen him yet as he was whisked away so it's a disappointing end as that's probably going to be his last game for Chelsea.

"He's been an incredible servant and I'm disappointed for him."

Chelsea got off to a flyer through Pulisic's fifth-minute strike but Aubameyang added to his penalty with an impressive second to take Arsenal's record tally of triumphs in the competition to 14.

The Blues' hopes of scoring an equaliser were dented by a controversial second yellow card shown to Mateo Kovacic for a challenge on Granit Xhaka.

Replays showed Kovacic barely made contact with his opponent and Lampard questioned referee Anthony Taylor's decision to reach into his back pocket.

"The penalty was rightly awarded, but it wasn't a sending off, that was pretty clear," he said.

And Lampard insisted on another day the outcome could have been different for Chelsea, who finished fourth in the Premier League in the club legend's first season in charge.

"Today was not about not showing up. We made a great start and had control of the game," he said.

"Then we got sloppy and got slower in our game and that changes the tone of it. 

"If Christian goes through and scores instead of pulling his hamstring then things are different, although we didn't play well enough.

"I can't criticise the players and their approach in their desire to win this game. We can't be stuck on today - we have to look at the season."

Aubameyang ultimately proved the difference in the all-London final and Lampard admitted his side's defending could have been better on the day.

"He's scored two goals, one of those being a penalty which he earns," he said.

"I was clear with the players about the threat of Arsenal's long balls behind them. We allowed him in easily.

"Aubameyang's a top-class player. His second goal showed his ability. In moments like that Aubameyang can finish you off."

Mikel Arteta thanked Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola after Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup final to give the head coach what he described as the best moment of his career.

Arteta left his position as City assistant in December after three years alongside Guardiola to take over from Unai Emery at Emirates Stadium.

The 38-year-old has enjoyed a successful first campaign at Arsenal, culminating in Saturday's win at Wembley to take their record tally of triumphs in the famous competition to 14.

And Arteta, who becomes the first Arsenal boss to win a major trophy in his first season in charge since George Graham in 1986-87, was quick to laud Guardiola.

"He has been a key figure in my development as a coach," he said at his post-match news conference. 

"He has my gratitude. I wouldn't be sitting here today without him. I have to thank him big time."

Arteta also had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to thank after his double turned the all-London final around following Christian Pulisic's early opener for Chelsea.

The Spaniard, who said after the match he is optimistic Aubameyang will sign a contract extension, praised the club captain for another match-winning display.

"Big games require big moments for big players - he did that in the semi-final and now today," he said. 

"People questioning whether he can do it in big games and he's done it today."

Arsenal finished eighth in the Premier League - their lowest position since 1994-95 - but have earned a place in next season's Europa League thanks to their win over Chelsea.

Arteta is pleased with the steps his players have taken in his first eight months at the helm and is hopeful that his side can build on their latest domestic cup success.

"I think this is the best moment of my career because I know the difficulties we've been through," he said.

"I had one mission - make the players and staff believe that we could do it. Seeing the change in the dressing room is what makes me more proud.

"I completely understood the needs of this football club. I knew the challenges I was facing when I made a decision to come here and the expectations we will always have. 

"This is the first one. Let's enjoy it today. My players have been fantastic and the staff and everyone upstairs."

Arteta, who only ended his playing career with Arsenal in 2016, added: "I could write a book on my time here. Everyday has presented something different. 

"I'm very lucky the people I have around me for every decision I had to make. Until you are sitting in this seat, you don't know the responsibility you have to make. 

"I'm proud of what we've done."

Ashley Cole believes FA Cup winners Arsenal must bring "top names" to the club if they want to keep Wembley hero Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Two goals from Aubameyang ushered Arsenal to a 2-1 victory over Chelsea in the first behind-closed-doors FA Cup final.

With less than 12 months left on his Arsenal contract, Aubameyang's future remains unclear, although head coach Mikel Arteta has expressed confidence a new deal can be agreed.

Former Arsenal defender Cole said it was not enough for the club to focus on bringing through young talent if they want to show the likes of Aubameyang they have real ambition.

And he challenged the Gunners' board to give Arteta the funds to go out and build a stronger team for next season.

Cole said: "I think they've got to back him. He's done enough. You see the qualities he has so you've got to back him now.

"He's got the young ones coming through, but I still feel you need some experience.

"If you want to keep Aubameyang, it's all good keeping youngsters, but you've got to bring some top names alongside them as well."

There are few sharper finishers in English football than Aubameyang, and his 22 goals in the Premier League offered further proof of his importance to Arsenal.

Club great Ian Wright also reckons Aubameyang will be looking for indications of Arsenal's resolve to challenge the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United on a consistent basis.

Wright, who like Cole was speaking on BBC One, considered the prospect of incoming top talent and Aubameyang's future being intertwined.

"I'm sure it'll be one of his stipulations for him staying," Wright said.

"He will want the kind of players around him that are going to create chances for him, who are going to have the same ambition as him, wanting to win things and wanting to win things with the club.

"That's what I would want to do if I was staying.

"It's a long road Arsenal are on under Arteta. This is a good start.

"You just hope now the people upstairs will look at the kind of manager they've got, the ambitions he's got and back him as much as they can because I think he'll bring the good times back."

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard accepted his team got what they deserved as they lost 2-1 to Arsenal in the FA Cup final, suffering major casualties along the way.

Two goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw Arsenal recover from the shock of going behind early on to Christian Pulisic's slick finish.

Lampard said Chelsea's season reached a "tipping point" as he pointed to the injury blows they suffered, with hamstring issues forcing captain Cesar Azpilicueta and the lively Pulisic off, before substitute Pedro was carried away with a suspected dislocated shoulder.

Chelsea also had Mateo Kovacic sent off after 73 minutes, damaging their hopes of getting back on level terms.

Lampard told BBC One: "We started well for 10 or 15 minutes, scored a goal, had other chances, controlled the game, and we could only blame ourselves from that point in football terms, because we decided to take control, as in 'let's get complacent, let's take our time on the ball, let's try and play short passes like it's a bit of a stroll'.

"A cup final can never be a stroll. We allowed them back into the game and when it's like that it's hard to get yourself back in the game.

"We did in the second half for big periods, but a lot of today was on us.

"We were slow, played back on ourselves, invited pressure. We didn't perform well enough to win a final.

"It all came together for us today, didn't it! We were below par after the start, two hamstrings, dislocated shoulder. Willian was injured yesterday and had to pull out of the game.

"We're at the end of a long, long season ... it felt like it came to the tipping point a bit today."

Mikel Arteta is confident Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will sign a new deal and intends to build Arsenal's squad around the striker following his FA Cup final heroics against Chelsea.

Aubameyang followed up his semi-final brace against Manchester City with two more goals in Saturday's 2-1 win over 10-man Chelsea as Arsenal recovered from an early Christian Pulisic strike.

The Gabon international's future has been shrouded in doubt amid reports he does not intend to sign a contract extension, with his current terms due to expire next year.

However, Arteta said on the eve of the final he does not expect Aubameyang to leave and he is now even more optimistic about Arsenal's chances of persuading their captain to stay.

"He knows what I think about him. I want to build the squad around him," Arteta told BBC One. "I think he wants to stay and it is just about getting the deal done.

"But I think these moments will help him to realise and believe that we are in the right path and he is a big part of that. 

 

"He is loved by everybody at the club. Hopefully he can continue with us."

Asked if he feels Aubameyang will put pen to paper on a new deal, Arteta replied: "I think he will, yes."

Arsenal showed good character to respond to Pulisic's fifth-minute goal at Wembley, with Aubameyang converting from the penalty spot before half-time and adding a second with an impressive solo strike in the second half.

And Arteta, who succeeded Unai Emery as Arsenal boss in December, believes his side kept one of their best displays of his tenure until the final game of the season.

"It was a difficult start when we conceded so early. If I know something about these players, it's that we weren't going to give up," he said.

"We played probably the best 30 minutes after since I arrived. I am so proud to represent these players and this club."

Arsenal finished the Premier League season in eighth place but will now play in the Europa League next season after lifting the FA Cup for a record-extending 14th time.

"It is a double reward for us. It is really important for this club in every way to be in Europe. We all did it so I am so happy," Arteta added.

"The players were completely knackered and they made a massive effort through the coronavirus to keep fit so I am so happy for them."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang won the FA Cup for Arsenal with his Wembley double but left Gunners fans guessing about his future.

The Gabon striker dropped the trophy amid the celebrations but it was his only clanger of the day, after his two goals guided Arsenal to a 2-1 victory over Chelsea.

His first goal was a confident penalty and the second strike was one to savour, twisting by Kurt Zouma before lifting the ball over Willy Caballero.

Asked what he could say about his future, given his contract expires at the end of next season, Aubameyang told BBC One: "Nothing, just today, trophy, that's it."

It was a day he and Arsenal deservedly relished, and a place in next season's Europa League awaits them.

"We enjoyed today. We are all happy," Aubameyang said.

"Emi [goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez] is crying. That shows that he's really implicated in this game and in this trophy."

Mikel Arteta joined Arsenal as head coach in November, and Aubameyang hailed his impact.

"I think he deserved this win. I think he did a great job and we are happy to have him on board. We just follow him," said the 31-year-old.

Discussing his dazzling winning goal, Aubameyang said: "Zouma knows me well. He knows I'm right-footed so that's why I said, okay, I went on the left there."

The Gunners frontman said his winner was like "Wrighty in the 90s" when told Arsenal great Ian Wright was lapping up the action from the BBC studio at Wembley.

Wright described Aubameyang's impact as "amazing finishes from the top man, the man that we needed." 

"He's come up with the goods," the former England international added.

In an FA Cup final that felt like a signpost for where two clubs at the transitional beginnings of new eras might be heading, the contributions of those who might not follow the journey through weighed heavily.

Chelsea were ravenous in their pressing and insatiable in the midfield battles early on, laying a platform for Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic to sparkle. An eventual 2-1 defeat seemed improbable right then.

Both wide forwards were involved when Pulisic nimbly opened the scoring – the subtle shift of the ball with his left foot to make a dinked right-footed finish possible underlining the USA star's technical prowess.

Olivier Giroud was naturally on the spot against his former club, playing an inevitably shrewd hand. A rush of goals for the experienced striker has suggested a possible new twist on his immediate future. If Timo Werner thinks Chelsea's rippling, roughhousing centre forward is going anywhere quietly he should think again.

The prolific run of six goals in the seven matches preceding the cup final – including strikes in each of the past four – gave way to 2018 World Cup Giroud in that fifth-minute breakthrough. During that tournament, France's number nine contributed no goals, but provided the canvas for the celebrated artists around him to dazzle.

Having bustled into the box to occupy three Arsenal defenders, Giroud's impudent lay-off was deftly perfect. Pulisic almost made it 2-0 all by himself but his evening ended in the cruellest circumstances.

Comparisons between the 21-year-old and Eden Hazard sometimes felt lazy as his debut season at Stamford Bridge blossomed, but the close control and sureness of his dribbling to break free of the Gunners' backline early in the second half recalled the Belgian at his best.

It looked glidingly effortless, only Pulisic's hamstring begged to differ. Curiously, Frank Lampard – whose use of Chelsea's youth products has been so celebrated this term – opted for the soon to be out-of-contract Pedro, 32, as the replacement.

A worrying stoppage-time injury for the ex-Barcelona man means he has probably played his last game for the Blues, but Callum Hudson-Odoi must wonder what a future featuring Hakim Ziyech holds.

With Pulisic incapacitated, there could be little doubt over the prime attacking talent remaining on the field. And he was not wearing blue.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's big-game temperament has been called into question during a prolific stint with Arsenal. The Gabon international tweeted to show he was in on the joke after a brilliantly taken brace saw off Manchester City in the semi-final.

After Cesar Azpilicueta, who preceded Pulisic as a hamstring victim, hauled Aubameyang to ground in the area there were demons to face. At the same end of a populated Wembley, Arsenal's star striker had a stoppage-time penalty saved against Tottenham last season. For good measure, Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero was Manchester City's shootout hero between those same goalposts in the 2016 EFL Cup final.

Of course, the elite performers tend not to concern themselves with such peculiarities or feel the need to indulge in introspection. There can be no doubt Aubameyang belongs to such company. Caballero guessed wrong. Had he gone the right way, there was no chance of him saving a perfect penalty.

If the shift in first-half momentum felt like a sharp fork in the road, Arsenal turned the wheel of the second period in their favour more subtly. At its midway point, one of the finest winning goals to grace this showpiece arrived.

Aubameyang ghosted into ample room on the left-hand side of the Chelsea penalty area. As he stood 69 goals into his Arsenal career - soon to be 70 - the obvious question was how does a man so prolific slip into the danger zone without close attention time and again? It is certainly a gift worthy of the heftiest of contracts.

As it happened, he checked back, seemingly deciding to take on Kurt Zouma for his own amusement. Then came the finish, a beautiful chip to leave Caballero hopeless for a second time. The bedlam that would have unfolded under whatever normal circumstances used to be was easy to imagine.

A Europa League place and the associated uplift in budget means Arsenal might just have the means to negotiate the next pivotal point for the club's trajectory. There will be no spectators there then, either, But if Mikel Arteta can persuade Aubameyang to pick up a pen (without dropping it!) and sign a new contract, it would be even more significant than this first richly deserved trophy of his coaching career.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang produced a moment of magic to give Arsenal their 14th FA Cup triumph in a dramatic 2-1 Wembley win over 10-man Chelsea.

The striker, whose future with the Gunners remains uncertain, slotted in a first-half penalty to cancel out Christian Pulisic’s opener, before firing home a classy match-winning strike in the 67th minute.

It meant the battle of the rookie bosses was won by Mikel Arteta, with Frank Lampard’s Chelsea ending the game a man down following a red card for Mateo Kovacic.

Arsenal’s success means they earn a place in next season’s Europa League, having finished a disappointing eighth in the Premier League.

An early breakthrough came after five minutes for Chelsea when Pulisic clipped in a neat close-range finish after former Arsenal battering ram Olivier Giroud cleverly eased the ball into his path.

It made Pulisic the first American to score in an FA Cup final, but his match would later end in injury agony.

Arsenal briefly thought they were level when Nicolas Pepe thrashed a fine 20-yard strike past Willy Caballero.

An offside flag saved Chelsea that time, but moments later, in the 26th minute, Arsenal had a penalty after Cesar Azpilicueta dragged down Aubameyang.

Aubameyang lashed the ball into the bottom right corner, and Chelsea captain Azpilicueta suffered a further blow five minutes later when an apparent hamstring injury ended his involvement.

Pulisic darted through in the first minute of the second half, racing from his own half to the edge of the Arsenal penalty area. Glory was again in his sights but suddenly horror entered the Pennsylvanian’s eyes, a leg injury striking just as he shaped to shoot. As well as missing the target, Pulisic’s race was run, Pedro coming off the bench.

Where Pulisic had been Chelsea’s man most likely, there was no doubting who Arsenal were looking to, and Aubameyang delivered a delicious strike in the 67th minute.

Hector Bellerin charged out of defence and Pepe picked up possession, feeding Aubameyang, who had plenty of work left to do. The former Borussia Dortmund man made it look ridiculously easy as he zig-zagged past Kurt Zouma and floated a sweet finish over the diving Caballero.

Chelsea were in all sorts of trouble moments later when Kovacic received his second yellow card and subsequent red after he and Dani Ceballos battled for the ball, their challenge fading from that point.

Pedro was carried off in stoppage time to deal Chelsea another blow ahead of their Champions League clash with Bayern Munich next weekend.

Page 1 of 19
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.