MX23RW : Monday, September 27 11:06:00| >> :120:14492:14492:
Aug 1, 2020 at 5.30pm UK at Wembley Stadium
Aubameyang (28' pen., 67')
Ceballos (73')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Pulisic (5')
Kovacic (14'), Azpilicueta (26'), Mount (45+4'), Rudiger (75'), Barkley (89')
Kovacic (73')

Preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's FA Cup final between London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea, including team news and predicted lineups.

English football's longest-ever campaign comes to a conclusion on Saturday evening when Arsenal and Chelsea face off at Wembley in the 139th FA Cup final.

The Gunners knocked out holders Manchester City in the semis and are seeking a record-extending 14th triumph in the competition, three years on from their most recent success.

Chelsea, beaten 2-1 by Arsenal in that year's final, have secured a top-four finish in the Premier League and could make this an exceptional first campaign for Frank Lampard.

Match preview

No two teams have had more success in the FA Cup since the turn of the century than Arsenal and Chelsea, lifting the famous trophy a combined 11 times since 2001.

The Gunners have so often relied on the oldest domestic cup competition of them all to salvage their campaign in recent times, and that is very much the case this time around.

Improvements have been made since Mikel Arteta succeeded Unai Emery in December, but results have been mixed and the Gunners finished a lowly eighth in the Premier League.

That makes 2019-20 Arsenal's worst league season in 25 years, having also crashed out of the other two cup competitions they entered relatively early.

It all comes down to one game for the North London outfit, then, with victory on Saturday worth up to £30m for the club given it means automatic qualification to the Europa League.

That could be the difference between keeping or selling skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; the difference between retaining Dani Ceballos or being made to promote from within.

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring against Manchester City on July 18, 2020© Reuters

Arsenal are synonymous with the FA Cup, though, and tend to lift the trophy when they make it as far as the final.

Indeed, they have triumphed in eight of their last nine FA Cup finals, including each of the last six - only Tottenham Hotspur (seven between 1901 and 1982) have won more in a row.

The worry for Arsenal, however, is that Chelsea are equally as prolific when it comes to getting the job done - even more so, perhaps.

After seeing off Manchester United in the semis, this will be the Blues' ninth appearance in the showpiece fixture since 1997 and they have won seven of those.

The only two defeats in that period? Both to Arsenal - in 2002 and the aforementioned meeting three years ago when Aaron Ramsey struck a late winner for the Gunners.

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League on July 26, 2020© Reuters

There is less pressure on Chelsea than their capital rivals heading into this latest tussle, it is fair to say, with the Blues enjoying a successful debut campaign under Lampard.

The club legend, in only his second campaign as a boss, has navigated a transfer ban and the exit of Eden Hazard to guide his side into fourth and back into the Champions League.

Assuming there is no upset in next week's Champions League last-16 second leg with Bayern Munich, which they trail 3-0, this is Lampard's only chance to win silverware this term.

In many ways, though, finishing fourth in the Premier League is deserving of a trophy in the current climate, ensuring that the Blues can push ahead with ambitious transfer plans.

The arrivals of Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner will take Chelsea to another level in 2020-21, but right now it is all about overcoming Arsenal to lift a first trophy in 15 months.

That most recent piece of silverware was the 2019 Europa League, secured with victory over Saturday's opponents in the Baku final.

Incredibly, this will therefore be the third time in the last four seasons that Arsenal will end their campaign against Chelsea.

The sides have had a mixed time of things in those previous two finals. Now another chapter is set to be written in a battle between two managerial rookies.

Arsenal's FA Cup form: WWWWW
Arsenal's form (all competitions): DLWWLW

Chelsea's FA Cup form: WWWWW
Chelsea's form (all competitions): WLWWLW

Team News

Arsenal's long injury list is now even longer following the news that Shkodran Mustafi will not feature again until October after injuring his hamstring in the semi-final.

Mustafi joins Gabriel Martinelli, Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari on the sidelines, while Bernd Leno is not 100% fit and will not start on Saturday.

Arteta continues to overlook Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi for selection, meanwhile, so options are somewhat limited all over the park.

The Gunners have stumbled upon a formation that works well for them, though, with the 3-4-3 fielded against Man City in the semis working to perfection.

Assuming that remains the case this weekend, Kieran Tierney is expected to be used as part of the back three, with Bukayo Saka favourite to get the nod at left wing-back.

Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi is helped off the pitch against Manchester City in their FA Cup semi-final on July 18.© Reuters

Chelsea have fewer injury issues to contend with - Billy Gilmour is their only confirmed absentee, although N'Golo Kante is also a major doubt having missed the last six matches.

Kante is back in training but it looks likely to be a midfield trio of Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic and Mason Mount.

Lampard also has the option of using a three-man defence to match Arsenal, however, which would likely see Marcos Alonso and Reece James fielded in the wing-back slots.

The biggest talking point ahead of this match is whether Kepa Arrizabalaga is recalled after being dropped for the final Premier League game of the season.

If not then it will be a cup final start for Willy Caballero, while up the other end of the field it seems certain that Olivier Giroud will retain his place against his old side.

Giroud is aiming to become the second player to score for and against a specific side in separate FA Cup finals, having netted in Arsenal's 4-0 win against Aston Villa in 2015.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Holding, Luiz, Tierney; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Saka; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Caballero; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Christensen, Alonso; Jorginho, Kovacic, Mount; Hudson-Odoi, Pulisic, Giroud

Head To Head

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard and Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hug in December 2019© Reuters

Chelsea have won just one of their last 13 FA Cup games against Arsenal, beating them 2-1 in the 2009 semi-final, courtesy of goals from Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba.

Ramsey was the late hero for Arsenal in the 2017 final, while the 2002 showpiece will be best remembered for late strikes by Freddie Ljungberg and Ray Parlour in Cardiff.

In all competitions, however, the Blues have lost just two of their last 10 meetings with the Gunners.

This season's league fixtures finished in a 2-1 victory for Chelsea in December - Jorginho and Tammy Abraham scoring late on - and a 2-2 draw six months ago.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea (2-1 AET)

History will be made on Saturday with this being the latest date an FA Cup final has ever been played.

It has been a unique campaign in so many ways and this is a fitting fixture to bring down the curtain - the most contested final in the competition's history.

Both teams have very impressive records when they reach the final, but in the here and now Chelsea finished some 10 points better off than the Gunners in the Premier League.

The FA Cup has been a welcome safety net for Arsenal in recent times, however, and we can see them edging this heavyweight clash to continue their love affair with the competition.

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Olivier Giroud in action for Chelsea on July 14, 2020
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