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Arsenal, Anthony Taylor 2-1 Chelsea, FA Cup final: Statistical review and analysis

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The numbers behind the farce of a final

Arsenal v Chelsea - FA Cup Final Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Anthony Taylor happens.

Overview

Chelsea started on the front foot, with Mount and Pulisic in particular running riot between the lines, and got the opening goal, too, with the Giroud-Pulisic dynamic bearing fruit yet again.

But Chelsea then took the foot off the pedal and it showed, with Arsenal slowly playing higher up the pitch. Arsenal tried to exploit the channel between Azpilicueta and Reece James with long passes and one such pass paid off, with Aubameyang expertly selling a foul to win, and then convert, a penalty.

Azpilicueta soon injured his hamstring and had to leave the pitch. It was his first ever injury at the club and it could not have happened in a worse moment for it. This was then followed by Pulisic injuring the same muscle 14 minutes later as he went on a solo run.

Chelsea would have the been the happier team to hear the half-time whistle, such was the team’s lack of intensity. However, there was no significant uptick in performance in the second half and Arsenal eventually took the lead. It helped that Bellerin fouled Christensen in the build-up.

Mateo Kovačić was then sent off for having the temerity to win the ball back cleanly and the game was perhaps finished that very moment. Lampard used a triple sub to influence proceedings but it was too little, too late.

Games like these happen and there is no point overreacting to this. However, questions will have to be asked about the lack of personality in the team. How often did Arsenal surround and influence the referee? How often did Arsenal sell fouls well to deceive the referee? It is little aspects like these that Chelsea missed.

Ironically, the Chelsea team of 10 years ago specialized in dark arts like these. More than the defeat itself, it was the manner of it that was most damning. Surely, it is not too much to ask the players to be better at gamesmanship?

What Chelsea in their prime did to Arsenal, Arsenal did to Chelsea tonight. No one will be hurt by that more than Frank Lampard.


Match statistics


Individual ratings

Arsenal v Chelsea - FA Cup Final Photo by Chris Lee - Chelsea FC/Getty Images

Frank Lampard

The starting XI largely selected itself, especially after N’Golo Kanté was not fit enough to start. Matching Arsenal’s 3-4-3 was the sensible thing to do as well.

However, his in-game substitutions were bizarre to say the least. Bringing on Pedro, who has not kicked a ball in anger for the past few weeks except for a 10 minute cameo against Wolves, over Hudson-Odoi was a decision that made zero sense. The triple sub could have happened earlier too.

The team’s injury record is slightly concerning, it must be said. The sheer number of muscle injuries players have suffered over the past 12 months is not normal and is definitely something worth questioning. With a week to prepare for this game, it was surprising to see two players damage their hamstrings in their first half.

RATING: 6.5


Willy Caballero

Could not be blamed for the penalty but could have certainly done better on the second goal. While this is not to say the second goal should have been saved, Caballero could have done better once he rushed off the line.

RATING: 5


Arsenal v Chelsea - FA Cup Final Photo by Adam Davy/Pool via Getty Images

Reece James

Was not given the chance to showcase his crossing ability often due to the team’s poor ball circulation and lack of intensity. Held his own defensively and won a few duels by virtue of his strength.

His role early in the second half is worth highlighting, with James playing more of a wide defensive midfielder at times than a wing-back. The reason behind this was pretty obvious, with neither Kovačić nor Jorginho offering even the most basic defensive coverage. It will be interesting to see if this was merely a temporary fix or if it is a serious option in the future.

Stats of note:
2 interceptions - Joint 1st
3 aerial duels won (out of 3) - Joint 1st
3 tackles - 2nd
3 clearances - Joint 3rd
2 dribbles completed (out of 2) - Joint 3rd

RATING: 7


César Azpilicueta

Conceded the penalty that led to Arsenal’s equalizer and then went off with what looked like a serious hamstring injury a few minutes later. The channel between him and James was targeted by Arsenal and while Azpilicueta did his best to stem the flow, it was not enough.

RATING: 5


Kurt Zouma

Aubameyang got the better of him 1-v-1 for the second goal and that was perhaps the talking point of what was a subdued afternoon for Zouma. There was a shout to say he was the team’s best defender but that is no compliment.

Stats of note :
5 clearances - 1st
1 blocked shot - Joint 2nd
2 dribbles completed (out of 2) - Joint 3rd

RATING: 6.5


Arsenal v Chelsea - FA Cup Final Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Antonio Rüdiger

Not the best day at the office for Rudiger. His impulsive style of defending put himself and the team in hot water a few times. One such moment in the second half stands out, when Christensen had to pull off a block to prevent the situation from escalating further. On a day when the team needed their bigger personalities to stand out, Rüdiger did not.

Stats of note:
2 interceptions - Joint 1st
2 tackles - Joint 3rd

RATING: 5


Marcos Alonso

Was put in an unenviable position having to face Nicolas Pépé and Hector Bellerin in 1-v-1 duels. As one would have expected, his defensive shortcomings were exposed. Got into a few promising positions in attack, but the clinical touch we become used to has not been present for a while.

Stats of note:
3 aerial duels won (out of 3) - Joint 1st
2 key passes - Joint 1st
3 dribbles completed (out of 3) - 2nd

RATING: 5.5


Arsenal v Chelsea - FA Cup Final Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Jorginho

Barring one pass to Pulisic in the build-up to Chelsea’s goal, this was a pedestrian performance by Chelsea’s leader on the pitch after Azpilicueta’s departure. Jorginho’s effort cannot be questioned but his all-too-familiar shortcomings were on show. It will be interesting to see what happens to his Chelsea future beyond this summer.

Stats of note:
3 clearances - Joint 3rd

RATING: 5


Mateo Kovačić

Looked assured on the ball without ever looking threatening. Left a lot to be desired from a defensive perspective. However, the sending off was not his fault and the officiating was farcical to say the very least.

Stats of note:
2 dribbles completed (out of 2) - Joint 3rd

RATING: 5.5


Arsenal v Chelsea - FA Cup Final Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Mason Mount

Started brightly, receiving in between the lines and getting into dangerous positions. However, after the first 15 minutes or so, his game went downhill and there was not much he did right after that. It did not help that he could not buzz around the pitch as he usually does because of some shambolic foul-calling (ed.note: he got an early yellow for a very similar non-foul as the one called on Kovačić).

Stats of note:
2 tackles - Joint 3rd

RATING: 5


Olivier Giroud

His combination play with Pulisic resulted in the team’s opener, as it has for many of Chelsea’s goals since the restart. However, he did not have a lot of joy after that. He could not find enough space in and around the box to shoot and his combination play did not always come off. Once Pulisic was subbed off for Pedro, Giroud’s performance only deteriorated further.

Stats of note:
1 assist
2 key passes - Joint 1st
3 aerial duels won (out of 6) - Joint 1st

RATING: 6.5


Christian Pulisic

Scored the opener thanks to some excellent movement and ball retention in the box. However, between the goal and the chance before his substitution, there was a lull in performance that mirrored that of the team. While he did perform excellently in 1-v-1 scenarios thanks to his skill and shift in speed, not a lot came of those scenarios.

This is not intended as criticism and the lulls in performance will gradually disappear as he matures and develops as a player. The addition of more top-tier players for him to play with will also greatly influence his growth. Here is hoping his injury is nothing serious.

Stats of note:
1 goal
4 dribbles completed (out of 4) - 1st

RATING: 7.5


Substitutes:

Arsenal v Chelsea - FA Cup Final Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Andreas Christensen (35th minute)

Pulled off a good block to bail out the team from a tricky situation. Was fouled in the lead-up to Arsenal’s winner and he cannot really be blamed for it.

Stats of note:
4 tackles - 1st
2 blocked shots - 1st
3 aerial duels won (out of 3) - Joint 1st
4 clearances - 2nd

RATING: 6


Pedro (49th minute)

It was surprising to see him appear off the bench instead of Hudson-Odoi. While he tried his hardest to get a goal, his decision-making and execution made it clear why he was not deemed good enough to be retained, or used more in the run-in, by Lampard. Suffered what looked like a bad injury in the final few minutes.

RATING: 5


Tammy Abraham (78th minute) - Not much of note.

Callum Hudson-Odoi (78th minute) - Not much of note.

Ross Barkley (78th minute) - Not much of note.