Chelsea began brightly and grabbed the lead inside of five minutes thanks to who else, Christian Pulisic, who started and finished a lovely move that cut through Arsenal’s midfield and defense like butter.
But that early impetus quickly petered out, with Chelsea increasingly unable to deal with the simple tactic of hitting long balls down the flank towards fast runners. Aubameyang was especially starting to enjoy himself, and he won his side a penalty after falling down with Azpilicueta’s hand on his shoulder.
The Arsenal captain made no mistake from the spot, while the Chelsea captain’s day only got worse, as he picked up bad-looking hamstring injury just a few minutes later. Azpi departed in tears, but Chelsea avoided further damage thanks to the referee’s half-time whistle.
But things did get worse almost immediately after the restart, as Pulisic tore his hamstring less than a minute into the second half, just as he looked to be in on goal. Pedro came on to replace him, setting up a potential fairy tale ending to his Chelsea career.
The Blues remained largely in control from that point until the drinks break, but were unable to truly carve open Arsenal’s well-organized defense. And of course, just before the drinks break, Arsenal hit on the counter, with the referee ignoring a clear foul on Christensen. Aubameyang finished with the ease.
Things then just kept getting worse, with Kovačić getting sent off for an incredibly harsh foul and second yellow card, as the referee firmly took center stage.
Arsenal had no trouble holding on to the lead from then on; then again, their goalkeeper was allowed to use his hands even outside the area.
Well mister Taylor .... pic.twitter.com/oQcLgB0hu5— Jan Aage Fjortoft ️ (@JanAageFjortoft) August 1, 2020
So it was one of those days. Congrats to Anthony Taylor for one of the worst refereeing performances in some time.
Some of the decisions in this game today...— Declan Rice (@_DeclanRice) August 1, 2020
A goal from a dive, a goal from a foul, a red card for nothing. Three injuries. And that’s before we get to our own performances. A most annoying way to lose a final.
That was a disgraceful. Aside from the cheating referee and his corrupt VAR mates and that relic Martin Tyler doing commentary: two fucking muscle injuries after a full week of training, not one player confronting the referee, blank expressions on the bench, Kanté unused. Livid.— Grant James (@grantdesmidt) August 1, 2020
- No changes for Chelsea from last weekend’s win, matching Arsenal with a 3-4-3
- Willian misses out with an injury once again. Will he play for Chelsea ever again?
- Azpilicueta’s first-half injury meant Zouma shifting to the right side of the back three, with Christensen coming on to play the middle
- Pulisic’s second-half injury meant a surprise appearance for serial-winner Pedro, in what is his last game for the club. No fairy tale for him, just a dislocated shoulder in the 96th minute.
- Chelsea in a 3-4-2 after the red card to Kovacic. Then switch to a 4-2-3, with Pedro and CHO flanking Abraham, Barkley and Jorginho in the middle.
- Anthony Taylor was the first referee to repeat as FA Cup final referee in 119 years. Based on his performance, that should never happen again. Shocking decisions.
- Next up: Bayern Munich, Champions League Round of 16 second leg.