Who will be the next Arsenal manager?
Arsenal's last lifeline
The 139th edition of the FA final will take place on Saturday at Wembley as the first final without a spectator. The game is also dominated by the next-generation coaches Lampard and Arteta.
For record winners Arsenal, the FA Cup final against local rivals Chelsea is the last chance to qualify for European business. Chelsea are under less pressure. The Blues are already qualified for the Champions League and could refine an attractive season with their ninth FA Cup trophy.
The final on Saturday (6:00 p.m. CEST) in deserted Wembley is also announced as a duel between two ex-professionals who represent the next generation of coaches on the island. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, who will be 38 years and 128 days old on the day of the final, and Chelsea counterpart Frank Lampard (42 years and 42 days) are the two youngest Premier League coaches.
Among them, both teams saw upward trends. Lampard, however, has a head start in the development work. Under the club icon, Chelsea broke the squad in the first year - even after a transfer ban. "Everything has changed, a lot of young players, a new coach - everything was just new again. Everything started from scratch," said defender Antonio Rüdiger. "In my opinion, a win would be the icing on the cake after this season."
At the city rivals Arsenal, the placements are not satisfactory. Eighth place was the worst result in 25 years. Arteta only took over his office around Christmas. Josep Guardiola's former assistant coach relies on high pressing and disciplined positional play, but the team recently impressed against Liverpool, for example, with a self-sacrificing, physical game. David Luiz has regained strength under the Spaniard - the Brazilian defensive player shone in the semifinals against Manchester City (2-0) and now meets his ex-club.
With the 14th FA Cup triumph on Saturday, Arsenal could still make the leap to Europe. The winner qualifies for the group stage in the Europa League. If the cup winner is already qualified for an international competition via the Premier League (like Chelsea), the league sixth (Tottenham) moves up into the group stage and the seventh (Wolverhamton) into the EL qualification.
In the 149-year history of the FA Cup, Chelsea and Arsenal have dueled 20 times. With 9: 6 wins and 5 draws, Arsenal have the upper hand. It was the same in the first final between the two in 2002, when the upcoming Wembley building was played in Cardiff. Arsenal won 2-0 under Arsene Wenger. The last successes of the two finalists are not long ago: Arsenal won 2-1 in 2017 against Chelsea, and in 2018 Chelsea prevailed 1-0 against Manchester United.
Chelsea's Rüdiger does not see his team, which eliminated Liverpool (2-0), Leicester City (1-0) and most recently Manchester United (3-1) on the way to the final, as favorites despite the better course of the season. "A final is a game in itself," emphasized the 27-year-old DFB team player before the duel, which will be played for the first time without a spectator in the 139th edition. "It's also a derby. And I think the season so far is no longer of interest."
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