Unlike some other bloggers, I have to say I was not that disappointed by Arsenal’s performance against Watford. Given how much was at stake for the Hornets, in comparison to the Gunners, who simply had to get through it without adding to their quite lengthy injury list, I think it was a good work-out for the lads. To be victorious against a team fighting for their lives in the final game of the season is quite an achievement, in my opinion. While, it wasn’t perfect by any means to concede two and look so shaky at times, overall, I felt this team could be successful against Chelsea in the final and here are ten reasons why:
1. David Luiz is not a liability. Although he conceded yet another penalty with a mis-timed challenge, I was impressed by some of his passing and I think he kept a cool head overall. When I think of previous Arsenal v Watford games, when Troy Deeney came out with his infamous cajones quotation, in the match Arsenal looked a lot steadier at the back. Much of the reason for that is the club’s unofficial captain: Luiz.
2. Emi Martinez is playing blinders (and not ‘Peaky’ ones like Emery). Although he can’t be expected to keep up this level of performance and he was culpable for the second goal, if he plays as well as that at Wembley, you’d expect him not to concede against Chelsea.
3. Maitland-Niles performed well as the injured Bellerin’s stand-in. I thought the youngster put in an assured performance and didn’t make too many mistakes. There’s been a big improvement in his game and I’m not sure why he received criticism after the Watford match.
4. Holding is a fighter. Who can forget Holding’s performance in a previous cup final that Arsenal won. The Daily Express claim that Arsenal fans want him dropped, but I’d be suprised if there’s much truth in that, especially with Mustafi injured.
5. Tierney is on fire. I really can’t believe how well the former Celtic man has fitted in. I had my doubts, but he’s proved me wrong and capped it off with a placed finish against Watford.
6. Xhaka seems to have minimised his mistakes. The Swiss looks as solid as he ever has in an Arsenal shirt. If he were chocolate, he’d be a Toblerone.
7. Ceballos has raised his game. The Spaniard looks like Xhaka’s best midfield partner, right now. I’m impressed by his new work-rate and his never-say-die attitude, as well as his skill.
8. Pepe is unpredictably brilliant. It’s impossible for opponents to know what the winger will conjure up next, so I expect Chelsea will struggle to deal with him.
9. Lacazette is an unsung hero, who brings out the best in his team-mates. The Frenchman always milks fouls and he won Arsenal’s penalty against Watford, which Aubameyang duly converted. I think any defence struggles to contain him.
10. Aubameyang is prolific. If you give him a chance, he will punish you. What’s more, Arsenal are beginning to create more for him, so that augurs well also.
As you may have noticed, I’m struggling to name the tenth player. Should it be Willock? I’m not really convinced.
Should it be Nketiah? He would be good to bring on as substitute, should Lacazette tire near the end.
To me, the obvious choice is Saka. He’s so versatile that he can fit in anywhere. Saka has to play. It’s that simple.
It will certainly be interesting to see what Arteta opts to do in the final, regarding the line-up, but I’d go 4-3-3 and try to put Chelsea on the back-foot. The only thing that’s certain is it’s going to be another tough battle, but I think Arsenal have enough about them to be victorious again.