10-men Chelsea fell to a disappointing 2-1 to defeat to Arsenal in a 2020 FA Cup Final marked with controversy. Chelsea were dominant for the opening stages of the match and took a deserved 1-0 lead through a Pulisic effort in the 5th minute. However, two goals from Aubameyang ensured that it was the red side of London that was celebrating when Anthony Taylor blew the full-time whistle.
The opening period saw chances for both sides. In the 3rd minute – in a sign of what as to come – AMM beat Cesar Azpilicueta to set up a cross for Aubameyang which was put over the bar by the Arsenal striker. A minute later Mount robbed Xhaka and drilled a shot towards the Arsenal goal; this time Emi Martinez turned it wide.
From then Chelsea really kicked off and began to dominate proceedings. In the 5th minute, three of Chelsea’s most influential players since the restart combined to give us the lead. A good bit of interplay resulted in Mount receiving the ball on the left of the box. He passed to Giroud, who laid it off for Pulisic to slot into the back of the net.
Chelsea went into the first drinks-break with a deserved lead. The only other efforts up until that point were a Pepe long-shot that never looked like going in, a Pulisic run and shot and a Ceballos free-kick that sailed over the bar.
The drinks break marked a turning point in the match. Arsenal came out fighting and would have led had a Pepe stunner from outside of the box not been flagged offside. A few minutes later they were given another opportunity to take the lead from the spot after Azpilicueta fouled Aubameyang in the box. The Gabonese striker promptly converted, sending Caballero the wrong way.
This kick-started a long spell of possession for Arsenal that lasted until half-time and provided them with a host of opportunities. Chelsea’s woes were made worse in the 32nd minute when captain Azpilicueta was replaced by Andreas Christensen following a hamstring injury. In the end, the Blues were lucky to hold off until the break and have a chance to regroup.
The second half looked to have started better for Chelsea with Pulisic having another run and shot at goal. That was until we realised that he too had suffered a hamstring injury in the biggest game of the season. And from there, things continued to get worse. Arsenal would have scored on a lightning-fast counter-attack were it not for a solid block by Christenson. They then did score when Aubameyang capped another quick move with a brilliant goal.
Up until this moment, it could be said that Arsenal deserved their lead but in the 72nd minute the referee, Anthony Taylor, wrongfully sent of Kovacic for a second yellow after a dive by Ceballos. As if this shocking decision was not enough, eight minutes later he failed to penalise Martinez for handling the ball outside of his box. Chelsea fans would be forgiven for wishing that Taylor never referees another match involving the Blues again, after abysmal performances in the 2017 FA Cup Final involving the same opposition, against Manchester United this February and now the 2020 FA Cup Final.
Chelsea’s miserable night is best summed up the 11 minutes of stoppage time which was filled with few chances, free-kicks not given and an injury to Pedro in his last game for the club. All-in-all it was an utterly disappointing end to a great season for the club.