Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea: FA Cup final 2020 – as it happened

Scott Murray on 1 August 2020

Congratulations to Arsenal, then, FA Cup winners for a record 14th time. They’ll also play in Europe next season. Mikel Arteta’s first few months in charge of the club could hardly have gone better. Commiserations to Chelsea, meanwhile. It really wasn’t their day, though they’re another team on the right track, with much to look forward to next season. David Hytner had the job of putting everything into perspective, and here’s his report. Enjoy that ... and thanks for reading this MBM. Nighty night!

A fair and honest appraisal by Frank Lampard. “We started well, scored a goal and controlled the game. And we can only blame ourselves from that point in football terms: we got complacent, playing short passes like it was a stroll. But a final can never be a stroll, and we let them back in the game. It’s hard to get yourself back in the game. We got back in the second half for big periods, but a lot today was on us. Today we were slow and invited pressure. We didn’t perform well enough to win a final. It all came together for us today, didn’t it? We were below par after the start, two hamstrings and a dislocated shoulder, Willian injured yesterday, Kante not fit, we’re at the end of a long, long season. I know everybody is, it’s not an excuse, but it felt like a tipping point today.”

Here’s the winning manager Mikel Arteta. “It was a difficult start. Sometimes you can go down. But if there’s something I know about this group of players, it’s that they weren’t going to give up. They reacted straight away and played the best 30 minutes since I arrived. We generated belief. Everyone worked extremely hard, and I am so proud to represent this club. It’s really important for this club to be in Europe, and winning this competition is part of our history. I want to build the squad around Aubameyang, I think he wants to stay but it’s about getting the deal done. We are on the right path and he is a big part of it.”

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and manager Mikel Arteta celebrate with the trophy.
Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and manager Mikel Arteta celebrate with the trophy. Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

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A highly amused Rob Holding talks to the BBC about Aubameyang’s slapstick shenanigans. “I saw him walking up with the bottom bit attached, and I’m like: you take that off! I think it’s the trend now for people dropping trophies, it seems to happen every year now.”

A unique final ends with a unique trophy presentation, the famous old pot being handed over down on the Wembley pitch. All of the Arsenal players are given their medals, then Aubameyang carefully takes the the FA Cup off its plinth ... after a fashion, as he’s unable to separate it from its base ... then drops both parts while preparing to raise them! David Luiz erupts in laughter, as does the captain himself, before picking up the bits and hoisting them into the air with a huge roar of happiness! Cup and base now most certainly separated, he raises the cup again in a much more elegant fashion. A somehow fitting end to the strangest of seasons!

Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (centre) drops the FA Cup troph.
Whoops, butterfingers. Photograph: Adam Davy/Pool/EPA
Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (centre) and teammates celebrate with the trophy.
That’s better. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Pool/EPA

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang speaks. “We are all happy. The manager deserves this win, he did a great job. We are all happy for him!” He doesn’t want to speak about his future, though, when asked by the BBC. “Nothing. Just today, the trophy, that’s it!”

Mikel Arteta races onto the Wembley pitch with a smile as wide as the Thames! His players celebrate in the grand style, having deservedly won this final, soaking up plenty of Chelsea pressure in both halves before wresting the momentum away from the Blues each time. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s winner was as delightful as his first-half penalty was cool. Mateo Kovacic should never have been sent off towards the end, though whether the decision made too much difference to the outcome is moot. Frank Lampard stands in stony silence. How different things looked when Christian Pulisic scored that wonderful opener. It’s fair to say that while Arsenal were the better team in the clutch moments, Chelsea had no luck today, with either decisions or injuries.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta looks pleased with the result.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta looks pleased with the result. Photograph: Marc Aspland/NMC Pool

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FULL TIME: Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea

The whistle goes, and Arsenal win the FA Cup for the 14th time!

Arsenal players celebrate following their team’s victory in the FA Cup Final.
Arsenal players celebrate their win at Wembley. Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Arsenal fans celebrate outside the Emirates stadium.
As do the Arsenal fans outside the Emirates. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

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90 min +13: Xhaka takes the ball towards the corner flag in the clock-management style. Then Tierney is replaced by Kolasinac.

90 min +11: Pedro is finally wheeled away, a painful end to Chelsea’s painful day.

90 min +9: This is so sad. This is Pedro’s last appearance in a Chelsea shirt, and what an awful way to leave the stage. He’s given oxygen as he’s loaded carefully onto a stretcher.

90 min +7: Pedro went down heavily over Martinez, and looks to have hurt his shoulder. It looks serious. Shades of Mick Jones in 1972, though at least the Leeds striker would get a winners’ medal that day after seriously hurting his elbow.

Chelsea’s Pedro lands on his shoulder.
Chelsea’s Pedro lands on his shoulder. Photograph: Marc Aspland/NMC Pool

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90 min +6: Aubameyang has been given the official man-of-the-match award. But his goals haven’t won Arsenal the cup. Pedro and Barkley probe around the edge of the Arsenal box. Pedro claims to have been barged over by Pepe, but it looked a legit challenge. Then Pedro goes again, chasing a speculative ball down the inside-left channel. Martinez comes off his line to claim.

90 min +4: James probes down the right. Aubameyang intercepts, then Nketiah takes over. It’s three on two, with Pepe also haring upfield, but Nketiah runs slap-bang into Christensen, hoping for a free kick he doesn’t get. Penny for the thoughts of Aubameyang, chasing history as he is.

90 min +3: Another easy claim for Martinez, this time from Pedro’s left-wing cross.

90 min +2: Some good work by Alonso wins a corner out on the left ... but Martinez claims the resulting set piece with great confidence.

Arsenal keeper Emiliano Martinez claims a cross.
Arsenal keeper Emiliano Martinez claims a cross. Photograph: Andy Hooper/NMC Pool

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90 min: There will be seven added minutes. Can Chelsea find an equaliser? Or could Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang become the first player to score a hat-trick in the FA Cup final since Stan Mortensen in 1953?

It’s a nice evening down Wembley way.
It’s a nice evening down Wembley way (unless you’re a Chelsea fan obviously.) Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

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89 min: Barkley is booked for overstretching and sticking his studs on Nketiah’s instep.

88 min: Luiz limps off, to be replaced by Sokratis. It’s a substitution Arsenal take their sweet time to make.

86 min: Luiz is down, holding his shin. On comes the physio. He might not be completing this match.

85 min: Chelsea are struggling to get out of their final third. Pepe swings one in from the right, but the flag goes up for offside, offering some brief respite for the Blues.

83 min: Tierney crosses low from the left. Rudiger shanks out for a corner. Arsenal work it out to Maitland-Niles, who curls towards the far post. Jorginho should let it float out for a goal kick, but eyebrows it out for another corner instead. He’s very relieved as Arsenal make nothing of it.

81 min: Nketiah comes on for Lacazette.

80 min: Jorginho clips a long pass down the inside-left channel. Abraham chases. Martinez comes out of his box, considers heading clear, then turns and claims with his hands. Abraham is convinced the keeper has handled outside his area ... but the referee decides the ball was on the line. VAR checks and agrees. That was very close, though, and Arsenal hearts were in mouths for a second there.

78 min: Chelsea have no option but to roll the dice. Giroud, Mount and Rudiger are replaced by Abraham, Hudson-Odoi and Barkley.

77 min: James swings in from the right. Martinez does well to tip away from the danger zone, under pressure from Giroud.

75 min: Now Rudiger is booked as a throw-in somehow escalates. Mikel Arteta sees yellow too for getting involved in some sort of scramble. Chelsea need to calm down quicksmart, because as harsh as that sending off was, this is where they are now, and time is running out.

RED CARD! Kovacic (Chelsea)

73 min: Kovacic slides in on Xhaka, who goes over. The ref books Ceballos for asking the ref to flash a second yellow ... then does what the Arsenal midfielder wanted anyway. A second yellow, and Kovacic is off. There really wasn’t much in that. Very light contact, and Chelsea are livid.

Mateo Kovacic of Chelsea tackles Granit Xhaka of Arsenal and gets an early bath after receiving his second yellow card.
Mateo Kovacic of Chelsea tackles Granit Xhaka of Arsenal and gets an early bath after receiving his second yellow card. Photograph: Thomas Lovelock for The FA/Shutterstock

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71 min: The game restarts. On the touchline, Lampard wears a furrowed brow. That goal came against the run of play.

69 min: And that’s drinks!

GOAL! Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea (Aubameyang 67)

What a finish this is! Bellerin bombs down the middle, a run of great determination. He collides with Christensen, and it could be a free kick for Arsenal, but the ref waves play on. Pepe slips the loose ball left for Aubameyang, who takes a touch, drops a shoulder to slip past Zouma on the outside, and dinks over Caballero. That’s such a cool finish from a not particularly inviting angle.

Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores their second goal.
Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores their second goal. Photograph: Adam Davy/Pool/Reuters
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates after scoring his, and Arsenal’s second goal.
Aubameyang celebrates with a somersault ... Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Pierre Emerick Aubaemyang (right) is congratulated by his teammates.
Before being congratulated by his teammates. Photograph: Andy Hooper NMC Pool
Members of AFTV celebrate after Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored their second goal.
Members of AFTV celebrate Aubameyang’s second goal. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Action Images/Reuters

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66 min: Mount is seeing a lot of the ball down the left. He’s nearly sent clear by Giroud’s scooped pass, but settles for earning a corner. Mount swings it in himself. Zouma bangs into Tierney, and it’s a free kick, a chance for Arsenal to regroup.

64 min: Chelsea are slowly pushing Arsenal further back, and now much of the play is on the edge of the Gunners’ box. Mount very nearly dribbles his way through with a baroque run; then he nearly finds Giroud in the middle with a cute low cross from the left. Not quite, but Frank Lampard will be the happier manager right now.

62 min: Pedro tries to inject some vim with a determined dribble down the middle. He considers shooting, but turns down the half-chance and tees up James, tearing in from the right, instead. James wangs a wild effort high and wide.

61 min: It’s a much slower game now. Chelsea continue to pass, Arsenal continue to hold their shape.

59 min: Some more of the old Chelsea possession. None of it really worries Arsenal. This second half needs a spark.

57 min: Jorginho, quarterbacking from deep, pings a lovely long pass down the middle and very nearly finds Mount. Not quite. Arsenal go straight up the other end through Lacazette down the right. He rolls across the face of the box for Aubameyang, who tries to round Christensen with his first touch but takes an uncharacteristically heavy one. Xhaka tries to retrieve the situation with a long-distance blooter, but it’s hideously wayward.

56 min: Chelsea hog the ball awhile, but it’s all sterile stuff in the middle of the park.

54 min: This second half hasn’t quite got going yet. “Thanks for the reminder of Coventry-Spurs,” begins Neil Hickman. “A colleague of mine at the time (who was a lifelong Sky Blue and always claimed that the only good thing to come out of Birmingham - my home town - was the Coventry Road) was at Wembley and for one brief, glorious moment, was able to abandon his favoured line: I have supported Coventry City through thin and thin.”

52 min: James floats a diagonal ball towards Giroud on the left. Holding does extremely well to guide a disruptive header back to Martinez, because Chelsea were two on one there, Pedro also in attendance.

50 min: Mount’s corner is easily claimed by Martinez. Incidentally, at half time, Arsenal asked the ref why Azpilicueta didn’t see red over the penalty incident. By all accounts he would have, but only had it not been a penalty, double jeopardy and all that.

49 min: Pedro is immediately into the thick of the action, zipping down the left and nearly getting the better of Holding. Just as he crosses, the defender blocks out for a corner.

47 min: Pulisic hammers the ground in despair, he knows his race is run. He’s helped off, to be replaced by Pedro. What awful luck for the young American, though he’ll always have an FA Cup final goal on his resume.

Arsenal get the second half underway. Chelsea’s captain Azpilicueta hobbles to the bench with plenty of ice and padding wrapped around his thigh. And almost immediately there’s more bad injury news, as Pulisic ghosts past Holding to tear down the left. He curls a low diagonal shot wide right ... and immediately goes down in agony, his hamstring gone.

More half-time entertainment. A callback to the preamble of this MBM, courtesy of SIG Mills.

Kinnaird triv.
Kinnaird triv. Photograph: Guardian

Half-time entertainment. Some old FA Cup final goals to while away the minutes.

HALF TIME: Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea

All square at half-time, then. Chelsea started fast; Arsenal finished the stronger. Good luck calling the winner of this. Here’s to an equally entertaining second half.

45 min +5: Mount is booked for doing little more than clipping Ceballos. It was a free kick but nothing more. The referee responding there to the comic-book YAROOOO emitted by Ceballos as he fell.

45 min +4: An appropriately quiet end to an otherwise heavy-metal half. It’s been great entertainment. They do like putting on a show in the cup final, these two.

45 min +2: “Didn’t Brian Kilcline come off in 1987, or is my aged memory playing tricks?” wonders Neil Way. “Azpilicueta could be like him, though there the comparison probably ends.” Heh. And yes, indeed he did, knackering himself by bodychecking Gary Mabbutt. Those desirous of reliving that particular classic can do so by clicking below.

45 min: Lacazette lashes the free kick towards the top right, but gets the swerve all wrong and it flies harmlessly wide. There will be five added minutes.

Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal takes a free kick.
Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal takes a free kick. Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

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44 min: Pepe dribbles with grace down the inside-left channel, and is brought down by Christensen just outside the box. A free kick in a very dangerous position, on the left-hand edge of the D.

43 min: One corner leads to another, and for a split second Pepe has the chance to shoot from the edge of the box. But he can’t sort his feet out properly. Arsenal are very much in the ascendancy right now.

42 min: More Arsenal probing. Pepe loops a cross from the right, forcing Caballero to tip out for a corner. The set piece leads to a load of nonsense in the Chelsea box, Alonso shanking a clearance. Pepe tries to get a shot away, but Christensen manages to block, albeit at the cost of a corner.

40 min: A series of Chelsea mistakes - a misplaced Christensen backpass, a poor Caballero clearance, a clank off Rudiger’s shin - allow Arsenal to probe around the box. This is good possession.

38 min: Tierney romps down the left and loops long for Pepe, who nearly works a defence-splitting one-two with Bellerin. But Chelsea swarm back just in the nick of time. Arsenal are looking the more dangerous now. Tierney is a proper player.

36 min: Perhaps that’s on Jorginho’s mind as he leans back and skies an awful shot from the edge of the Arsenal box, wasting some good work by Mount down the inside-left channel.

35 min: Having said that, I have no idea what the protocol is when the winning captain doesn’t end the game on the pitch. Jorginho now has the captain’s armband, and he might have something to say on the matter should Chelsea prevail.

34 min: Poor old Azpilicueta is in tears, his cup final over as he limps off. It’s not been a good day at the office so far for the Chelsea captain, but you never know, he could easily still end it by lifting the cup. Christensen comes on in his stead.

32 min: Arsenal have recovered so well from all that early Chelsea pressure. And here’s some more bad news for the Blues, as Azpilicueta goes down grimacing and holding his hamstring. He looks in real distress, fingers covering his eyes.

30 min: Luiz sticks his elbow in Giroud’s back as the pair contest a high ball. Giroud goes down with a yell, and there’s a quick VAR check for foul play. But it’s nothing more than a garden-variety foul, and much to Frank Lampard’s displeasure on the touchline, we play on.

GOAL! Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea (Aubameyang 28 pen)

VAR sticks its neb in, unnecessarily so, taking an age to boot. But the decision stands, and Aubameyang confidently sidefoots into the bottom right. So cool!

Arsenal’s Pierre Emerick Aubameyang celebrates his goal.
Arsenal’s Pierre Emerick Aubameyang celebrates his goal. Photograph: Marc Aspland/NMC Pool
The Gooners at Box Park Wembley celebrate after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores his side’s equaliser.
The Gooners at Box Park Wembley are a bit happier now. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

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Penalty for Arsenal!

26 min: Tierney rakes a long pass down the left. Aubameyang gets ahead of Azpilicueta and makes for the box. Just as he steps inside, the Chelsea captain brings him down. The ref points to the spot!

Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta (left) fouls Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang .
Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta (left) fouls Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang . Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta is booked.
Azpilicueta goes into the ref’s book. Photograph: Marc Aspland/NMC Pool

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25 min: Pepe curls a glorious shot into the top-left corner of the Chelsea net ... but the flag had gone up for offside earlier in the move. Correctly so: Holding’s ball down the left flank caught Maitland-Niles too far ahead of play. What a finish, though. Chelsea hadn’t stopped playing.

23 min: The game restarts with a long throw down the Arsenal left. Lacazette chests down but can’t keep the ball under control just as space started to open up in front of him.

22 min: And that’s drinks.

21 min: Luiz sprays a long pass down the left and nearly releases Aubameyang, but the ball takes a swerve to the left and James is able to recover and usher it out of play. Arsenal are getting plenty of encouragement down their left flank.

19 min: Arsenal stroke it around the back awhile. They’re living on the edge, though, with Chelsea pressing hard. Pepe panics, allowing the ball to clank between his legs, and the lurking Rudiger nearly steals away with it. Pepe recovers just in time, then shows his class up the other end, sending Maitland-Niles skittering down the left. Maitland-Niles reaches the Chelsea box before tackling himself and running the ball out for a goal kick. Neither defence looks exactly watertight.

17 min: After much deliberation, Ceballos tries a curler over the wall. But it’s always floating over the bar, and was too central in any case. It would have been an easy tip-over for Caballero.

15 min: Now Kovacic clips Ceballos, who was dribbling with purpose towards the Chelsea box. It’s no more than a free kick ... but it’s in a very dangerous position, just to the left of centre, 25 yards out.

14 min: Xhaka and Kovacic compete for a 50-50 ball in the midfield. Xhaka comes worse off, a legacy of Kovacic showing his studs but thankfully not connecting too well. A yellow for the Chelsea midfielder.

12 min: Bellerin and Pepe combine down the right to earn Arsenal’s first corner. Pepe wastes the set piece, looping it too deep, but that’s better from Arsenal.

10 min: Chelsea are first to everything right now. Arsenal are struggling to get out of their own half. Pulisic dribbles dangerously down the right, and has a smack from the edge of the box. Martinez does well to parry.

8 min: Pulisic is going to be a genuine world star. What form he’s shown post-lockdown, now he’s shaken off his injury.

6 min: Pepe tries to respond immediately by sending a long-distance rake towards the bottom right. Caballero gathers well. We could have a proper cup final on our hands here.

GOAL! Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea (Pulisic 5)

Pulisic turns in the midfield and tears down the middle. He slips wide left for Mount, who enters the box and crosses low. Giroud gently flicks it on towards Pulisic, who takes a touch on the penalty spot before flicking confidently over the outstretched Martinez. What a start for Chelsea!

Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic (right) scores the opening goal past Arsenal lkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic (right) scores the opening goal past Arsenal lkeeper Emiliano Martinez. Photograph: Andy Hooper/NMC Pool
Christian Pulisic of Chelsea scores.
The view of the goal from up in the stands. Photograph: Thomas Lovelock for The FA/REX/Shutterstock
The Arsenal fans watching the game at Boxpark Wembley aren’t pleased to see their team go behind.
The Arsenal fans watching the game at Boxpark Wembley aren’t pleased to see their team go behind. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Action Images/Reuters

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4 min: And now up the other end, Mount snaffles possession and curls a shot towards the bottom right. Martinez palms it around the post for a corner. Giroud is livid, because he should have been slipped in down the inside-right channel, though it was a decent enough shot of Mount’s. The corner is a non-event, but what a start! In a parallel universe somewhere, it’s already 1-1.

3 min: The first chance of the game falls to Aubameyang, and he possibly should have scored. Maitland-Niles gets the better of Azpilicueta near the left-hand corner flag, crossing from a tight spot. He should never have been allowed to do that. The cross lands on the head of his captain, who slaps his effort wide left. What a chance!

2 min: An appropriately quiet start to this unique cup final. “Arsenal’s shiny new cup final shirt imploring us to Fly Better and Visit Rwanda is slightly counterproductive during a deadly global pandemic,” argues Gary Byrne. “I much preferred it when the Gunners advertised Weetabix.” That didn’t age quite as well as it could have, did it.

Chelsea get the 2020 Heads Up FA Cup Final underway ... but only after all the players take a knee of solidarity, fairness and love. Black lives matter.

The teams are out! Paul Curievici and everyone else at the British Youth Opera do a grand job of the national anthem. Then the players gather around the centre circle to hear the aforementioned #SoundOfSupport. It’s powerful and emotional, especially when the players break into spontaneous applause. We’ll be off in a minute.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta (left) and Chelsea manager Frank Lampard greet each other.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta (left) and Chelsea manager Frank Lampard greet each other. Photograph: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC/Getty Images

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Abide With Me. The traditional cup-final hymn is beautifully performed by Emeli Sandé from the roof of Wembley. Speaking ahead of the performance, Emeli Sandé said: “Only through love, justice and unity will the consequences of hate and separation be healed. Replace racism with justice for everyone,” says Sandé. The FA add that she was “keen to collaborate with us in order to include her voice in the deconstruction of racism in British communities and football, and to support mental health, which can be negatively impacted by experiences of racism.”

Thanks to Roger Kirkby.

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A reminder that this year’s final is dedicated to Heads Up, the campaign that aims to make us all feel more comfortable discussing our mental health. Ahead of kick-off, a 60-second #SoundOfSupport will be played at Wembley, a soundscape of real-life mental-health conversations with fans and players. It’ll be introduced to the players and fans by poet and mental health champion Hussain Manawer. Both teams will carry the Heads Up logo on their kit.

#SoundOfSupport

The players won’t be the only folk feeling the old nerves jangle right now. “I’m in the choir for the national anthem, made up of current and former members of British Youth Opera, who need support after having to cancel their summer productions,” writes Paul Curievici. “We’ve all sung to crowds big and small but never to an empty 80,000-seater stadium and such a huge TV audience. Will be hoping the players join in so we don’t feel totally alone!” Good luck to you all, Paul, though if those songs we posted earlier are indicative of anything, perhaps it’s for the best if the players keep schtum and leave it to you experts.

Frank Lampard is equally calm and cheerful. “This is the new normal, though hopefully not for the long term. But I think we’ve got used to it, though we’ll miss our fans. We’ll have to make them happy from afar. But we can’t let the lack of a crowd affect us. It’s a huge game: if you win it, it’s always there with you, if you lose it, you’re quickly forgotten. I’ve experienced good and not so good finals. You can lose a final, but it can’t be on us, and it feels like the players are ready.”

The BBC talks to a relaxed and philosophical Mikel Arteta. “It would be so special for our players, staff and mainly our fans. We know it has been a difficult season and it would be a great way to end it. The demands of this club are high, but we have an opportunity to lift a trophy today. Let’s go for it, and obviously the season would look much better. It’s strange ... but at least we have an opportunity to play, and it’s such an honour to be in the final, so let’s win it.”

Arsenal make one change from the team that very nearly let a three-goal lead slip against Watford on the final day of the season. Hector Bellerin comes in for Joe Willock. That means ten of the starters from the impressive semi-final win over Manchester City are in the starting line-up again today, the only change being Rob Holding for the injured Shkodran Mustafi.

Chelsea name the same side that saw off Wolverhampton Wanders in calm fashion last Sunday. That means Willy Caballero keeps the world’s most expensive goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga on the bench. Willian, rumoured to be off, doesn’t make the squad, while N’Golo Kante is only fit enough for a place on the bench.

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The teams

Arsenal: Martinez, Holding, Luiz, Tierney, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ceballos, Maitland-Niles, Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Subs: Macey, Sokratis, Kolasinac, Torreira, Smith, Willock, Nelson, Saka, Nketiah.

Chelsea: Caballero, James, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger, Alonso, Jorginho, Kovacic, Mount, Giroud, Pulisic.
Subs: Kepa, Christensen, Tomori, Emerson, Kante, Barkley, Hudson-Odoi, Pedro, Abraham.

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).

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“Will Arsenal still claim this is a sell out crowd?” Sports satirist Drew Chappell, everyone. He’s here all week, try the overpriced burger. While we’re on the subject, sort of, a matchday programme has still been published despite the lack of spectators. Here’s what it looks like, for some reason pictured next to a pair of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s trousers ... and a digital version (of the programme, not the shorts) can be read here.

The official 2020 FA Cup final matchday programme.
The official 2020 FA Cup final matchday programme. Photograph: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC/Getty Images

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Thank God that ITV Sport used to pad out their interminable FA Cup final build-up with any old tat! Here’s another celebrity charity match, this time from 1988, in which Jimmy Tarbuck - forever immortalised by Richie Rich as “the cheeky chap from the ‘Pool, everybody’s pal, the jolly gap-toothed scouser with twinkle in his eye and a smile for every honest Englishman” - slots a fine penalty past David Frost.

Frost v Tarby: the rematch.

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Back in the day, ITV Sport used to pad out their interminable FA Cup final build-up with any old tat. The very thought. Anyway, here’s a celebrity charity match played ahead of the 1987 final, featuring some neat left-wing interplay between Kevin Webster from Corrie and TV-AM sofawarmer Nick Owen, and the best goal ever scored at Wembley by a future director-general of the BBC. Enjoy, enjoy.

Frost v Tarby.

Chelsea’s 1994 effort No One Can Stop Us Now was quickly rendered obsolete by events. Better remembered is this Britpop-tinged effort by Suggs. If nothing else, the couplet “We’ve got some memories / albeit from the seventies” demonstrates that the self-deprecating shtick of Three Lions wasn’t quite as easy to pull off as Baddiel and Skinner made it look.

It’s no Blue is the Colour, we can tell you that for free.

Footballers are far too cool / intelligent / rich to bother with FA Cup final songs these days. Those desirous of a good old partisan knees-up are therefore required to rummage through the old crates and see what hot seven-inch platters they can pull out. First up are Arsenal, and ahead of the 1978 final, they decided to Roll Out the Red Carpet, just in time for Bobby Robson and Ipswich to traipse all over it. The song starts out with the bouncy twang of Don’t Pass Me By, Ringo’s sole contribution to the White Album, before going even further downhill. A big plus point, though, for the eerie foreshadowing of this year’s final on the cover, the squad lining up in front of a completely empty stand.

It’s no Good Old Arsenal, we can tell you that for free.

There’ll be no need for change strips today. Both sides will be turning out in next season’s gear, which means that one shirt will be synonymous with failure before the campaign has even started. I’m no marketing expert, the world has long passed me by, and furthermore am simple folk, but that can’t be ideal, surely? Anyway, greater minds than mine have done the maths, so here’s Arsenal’s bespoke effort for today’s big game ...

Arsenal’s cup-final shirt.
Arsenal’s cup-final shirt. Photograph: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC/Getty Images

... while Chelsea will be wearing this, with some additional “Wembley 2020” embroidery around the crest.

Chelsea’s cup-final shirt (not pictured).
Chelsea’s cup-final shirt (not pictured). Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/NMC/EPA

Other matches between Arsenal and Chelsea have been staged. Here are six of the finest, not counting anything that’s happened in the last ten years, for reasons that will become all too apparent when you click.

Those two previous Arsenal-Chelsea finals, then. Here’s what happened in 2002 ...

... and here’s the story of 2017, when, looking back with the benefit of hindsight, the organisers seriously overdid it with the old ticker tape.

Preamble

The 1876 FA Cup final replay, then. That’s the one, you’ll remember, in which the legendary Arthur Kinnaird, captain of Old Etonians, picked up an injury and was forced to take over in goal, his sore tootsies a major factor in an easy 3-0 victory for Wanderers. We mention that particular game only because the attendance at the Kennington Oval that day, 1,500, currently stands as the lowest in the entire history of the FA Cup final. For reasons we really don’t need to explain, that record will be wiped from the record books at 5.31pm this afternoon.

So yes, this fan-free occasion is going to be a strange one indeed. But then FA Cup finals aren’t supposed to feel normal. Would it have felt normal when Arsenal won their first FA Cup in 1930, the Graf Zeppelin hovering over Wembley, the 776-foot hydrogen-filled behemoth dipping its nose to acknowledge King George V? Would it have seemed normal when Chelsea won their first FA Cup in woozy 1970 technicolor, after the sort of stramash at Old Trafford that wouldn’t be tolerated these days, not even outside the Belt & Haymaker on a hot Sunday afternoon? It hardly seemed like an everyday occurrence last year, either, did it, when Manchester City were making venison sausages out of Watford, and there were 85,854 people in attendance for that one, for goodness sake. You’re meant to feel uneasy, a little bit queasy, that’s the effect big sporting occasions have. They feel surreal at the best of times. Abnormality is the whole point. So let’s go with it.

Today’s final, the 139th, could be a cracker. Arsenal face Chelsea on the big occasion for the second time in four seasons, and the third in total. They’ve won the previous two, as all-conquering favourites in 2002, then as underdogs in 2017. They’ll be underdogs again today, on account of Chelsea’s better Premier League season, and the fact the Blues trounced them 4-1 in last year’s Europa League final. But there’s not that much in it. Both sides can be scintillating in attack; neither are much cop, if we’re being totally honest, in defence. Having said that, even though neither team is quite the finished article under new management yet, both are capable of all-round dominance on a good day, as their respective semi-final victories over Manchester City and Manchester United attest.

A 1-0 disappointment, then? Perhaps; finals so often are, never mind local derbies. But it could just so easily be one of those rip-roaring, to-and-fro goalfests as well. And listen, never mind last year’s 6-0, we haven’t had seven goals since Blackpool and Bolton shared them in the Matthews Final, so we’re more than due another. You fancy one of those? Yes, us too! OK, then: Arsenal, Chelsea, you know what to do. Be about your business! Entertain the nation! It’s on!

Kick off: 5.30pm BST.

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