18 mins – Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1
Ceballos has lined up this free-kick, with Pepe standing over it too. I think Ceballos has claimed it since he won it, effectively calling dibs, and something I’m fully behind as a person who does the same thing in Sunday League.
He steps up… and hits a pretty useless shot straight down the middle over the bar. I’m not sure he’ll get the chance to hit another.
16 mins – Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1
Xhaka goes down screaming in pain after being caught heavily by Kovacic, who loses control of the ball and dives in. For a second it looked like he was in real trouble but he’s back on his feet and Kovacic has been booked.
Ceballos tries to dribble past a few tackles straight after and wins his side another free-kick closer to goal. Great feet from the midfielder to keep the ball under control with so many around him!
13 mins – Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1
Pulisic dances into the area after dribbling through about four bodies, draws more towards him and shoots, forcing Martinez into another save. Arsenal are not enjoying defending against him.
Arteta’s side get forward but can’t make use of the corner they win. Chelsea are getting their wide forwards into central positions and it is causing havoc behind Arsenal’s midfield line.
10 mins – Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1
Chelsea pressing high and Arsenal are making mistakes now. Holding hits a simple pass straight out for a throw. Chelsea easily able to win possession back at the moment.
Great play by Chelsea. Jorginho threads the ball through Arsenal’s midfield, the centre-backs are really compact and Mount can go on the outside left of them while still being in a narrow position, hits a low ball to the back post, and Arsenal just cannot deal with it. Pulisic rides a tackle, Tierney can’t make one or he’ll wipe him out, and Pulisic chips it over the goalkeeper!
5 mins – Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0
Chelsea attack quickly, Mount has an opportunity to shoot, lines up the shot and tries to curl a shot into the corner of the net. Martinez dives and catches it cleanly. Great save!
3 mins – Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0
Tierney does really well to ride a couple of challenges with a drop shoulder and chip the ball down the line. Maitland-Niles runs into space, cuts back and crosses to Aubameyang… who meets the ball at the near post! And heads wide.
The players gather round in a circle as another campaign audio/video plays out in support of people speaking out about their mental health, which I’m sure we can agree is welcome, and now I think we’re finally ready for the game.
Here come the players!
And it’s time for another song. This one about is the Queen and how she must be saved. Some very talented opera/classical singers belt the national anthem out. They finish, the empty stadium returns to silence.
Now the players are really fired up.
Abide With Me
Emili Sande, who like me is from Aberdeenshire (SHOUT OUT), is currently signing Abide With Me from the roof of Wembley. I’m not sure how she got there but she can fairly belt out a tune. This one is being sung in memory of all those who have suffered and lost lives from the coronavirus pandemic. It also serves to remind us how great it will be when crowds can return.
Frank Lampard and Mikel Arteta
Lampard is asked if anything is different as a manager going into a cup final:
Yeh. Everything is! The good is better, the bad is sometimes worse, the workload is much more. But the feeling is the same.
Arteta doesn’t get any difficult questions so can go smoothly down the middle.
Today is the day we have a great choice. We know how this club is linked with this competition, some of our playres have the experience of winning this cup so hopefully we can do it again.
The Arsenal reserve goalkeeper could well become their number one with some impressive performances since covering for Bernd Leno. I really enjoyed this interview with Sam Dean published a few days ago and highly recommend you give it a read. It’s all about how he’s had to battle the entire way for a decade to get his chance, and how high the stakes were during that journey. Plus, Sam wrote it and he’s great.
Who has the advantage?
Jason Burt went through every player in today’s starting XI (or what he assumed it would be anyway!) to rate each individual out of 10, then add that together to see who is best. But who is it? Clickety click to find out!
No Willian or Loftus-Cheek
Both have been dealing with injuries this week and miss the cut.
As expected, both sides in 3-4-3 systems but Arsenal are playing Maitland-Niles at left wing-back rather than Saka.
A few fans hanging around Wembley
None of them will get in the stadium, or particularly near it, but that hasn’t stopped a few fans making their way to the Wembley Park tube stop and then just…. hang around. The players will all be inspired.
It’s Cup Final day
Welcome! The FA Cup, the most magical of trophies in all England, comes to an end for another season today as Arsenal take on Chelsea. It’s Arteta vs Lampard, two ex-players of the respective clubs looking to win their first trophy as manager. Who can call it?
Chelsea have the better players, team, form and league position so you’d think have a big advantage going into this… but Arsenal are much improved and more than capable of lifting the trophy. Both sides will almost certainly adopt 3-4-3 formations, with Lampard likely to mirror the system that Arteta has developed to make use of the players he has available, and Chelsea’s team in that shape is simply stronger.
Arsenal are a lot weaker defensively, with Rob Holding and David Luiz prone to error in particular. Kieran Tierney has made a real difference since joining and regaining fitness, and brings much needed knowledge of how to routinely win trophies. He won everything he competed in domestically for Celtic. Saka may well start as a left wing-back and spend most of the game attacking, something that will require Tierney providing a lot of cover.
For all the mistakes at the back, they have a really potent strike force. Aubameyang is the goal machine, Lacazette gets shouted at by Arteta a lot for not pressing as instructed, and we may even see Nicolas Pepe work his magic on the Wembley pitch.
Christian Pulisic is the danger man for Chelsea, a player who shifts the ball so quickly between both feet that defenders have a hard time working out when to time their tackles. Giroud could win a trophy at the expense of his old team, Kovacic will keep things ticking over, and the defenders will try to protect their goalkeeper. Willy Caballero will probably start over Kepa, as Lampard’s confidence in his club’s record signing drops ever deeper towards the core of earth.
Kick off is 5:30pm and you can watch the game on BBC One or BT Sport. Alternatively you can follow the action online with us right here in this liveblog, or treat us like a handy friend and read along while taking in the match.