The FA Cup final opposes Blues and Gunners this Saturday, with two coaches, Frank Lampard and Mikel Arteta, who dream of winning their first trophy in this function.
The Chelsea-Arsenal FA Cup final on Saturday will allow Frank Lampard or Mikel Arteta to win their first trophy as a coach, but above all is the Gunners’ last chance to grab Europe. The Blues, 4th in the Premier League behind the untouchable Liverpool and the two Manchester, are already guaranteed to play in the Champions League next season. But Lampard, iconic Chelsea captain of the 2000s with whom he lifted this trophy four times, dreams of becoming the third man to lift him as a player and then coach of Chelsea after Italians Gianluca Vialli and Roberto di Matteo. A success would also be a great way to crown his return to his favorite club, after only one year on the bench at Derby.
Lampard made strong choices
After his flattering results in the Championship – he led Derby in the play-off final for accession – the Blues hoped that the mark left for 13 years at the club would earn him the benevolence of the supporters. Faced with the departure of Eden Hazard at Real and a recruitment ban last summer, Lampard bet on the club spirit by giving a chance to several young people from the training center. “There were a lot of unknowns when I arrived (but) we have a real state of mind in the squad and it’s really a collective work now,” said the coach recently. The way he managed to make the Brazilian Willian a very regular player, the chance he was able to give back to Olivier Giroud in the final sprint, his strong choice to leave Kepa – the most expensive goalkeeper in history – on the bench because not performing enough, are all proof that he has taken the measure of his new role.
“Even if that doesn’t mean that we are suddenly back to our best level, a success would be a nice first step towards what we want to achieve next year”
The 12 losses recorded in the league and the persistent defensive fragility of the Blues remain elements against him, but a victory at Wembley would quickly erase those reservations. But for Lampard, it would only be a step. A victory would certainly be “a good driving force for us, but it will only mean something if we know how to take matters into our own hands, move forward and improve ourselves,” he said. “Even if that doesn’t mean that we are suddenly back to our best level, a success would be a nice first step towards what we want to achieve next year”. The London club, used to finals with 13 contested and eight won, however lost the two having opposed it to its neighbor in 2002 and 2017. Because the Gunners are experts in the field: they will play their 21st final on Saturday, including 13 victorious. Between 2002 and 2017, the year of their last Cup triumph, they won six.
An almost vital Europa League for the Gunners
Arsenal also dream of forgetting a failed start to the season under the leadership of Unai Emery with a place in the Europa League. Below the usual goal, but vital for the club. While the future of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose contract ends in 2021, is on hold, not even having a European competition to offer him next season would most certainly ruin the chances of seeing him extended. It would also be difficult to meet the demands of strengthening the workforce of Mikel Arteta, propelled in December as the main coach after having studied as an assistant to Pep Guardiola in Manchester City, struck down in the semifinals (2-0).
Under the orders of the Basque, Arsenal has regained an identity and a little defensive consistency, even if the balls, in particular from David Luiz, prevented him from qualifying by way of the championship (8th). A bit like Lampard, Arteta has given a chance to young people, the very versatile Bukayo Saka (18 years old) or Eddie Nketiah (21 years old), while not hesitating to do without the biggest salary of the club, Mesut Özil. But to complete his work of transfiguring the Gunners, the path will necessarily pass through Europe.