Azpilicueta 4/10 as Chelsea defence crumbles in FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal

Chelsea fell to a comprehensive 2-1 defeat against Arsenal in the FA Cup final on Saturday, despite taking an early lead.

Christian Pulisic handed Frank Lampard's side the perfect start, his lifted finish coming after a fine team move. However, Arsenal continued to pose a long-ball threat throughout, and this tactic would pay dividends. Captain Cesar Azpilicueta pulled down the onrushing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose subsequent penalty brought the Gunners right back into the game. Chelsea valiantly tried to regain the lead, but after Pulisic went down with a hamstring injury in the second half, their attack looked severely blunted. Their miserable afternoon was compounded by Aubameyang grabbing what would turn out to be the match-winning goal after 67 minutes.

It's a dreadful end to a relatively successful season for Chelsea, who lost to Arsenal in an FA Cup final for the second time in three years.


When the attack functions, its simply spectacular to watch. Chelsea's first goal involved all three forwards, a wonderful move from which you expected the Blues to kick on and add a few more. That didn't quite transpire, but the contributions of Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho centrally, who worked hard and provided some excellent passes, did help to reestablish control at key stages of the game.

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Chelsea looked especially vulnerable down the channels, where space between the full-back and centre-back was exploited mercilessly by Arsenal. Ainsley Maitland-Niles beat Reece James on a number of occasions, while Marcos Alonso on the opposite flank looked less than assured. For large spells, they found themselves heavily outplayed by the Gunners, and the second-half injury to Pulisic -- after Azpilicueta's first-half tweak -- must have had manager Frank Lampard cursing his side's bad luck.

Manager rating out of 10

5 -- Lampard named the same XI that delivered a crucial 2-0 win over Wolves on the final day of the Premier League season. The front three functioned brilliantly at times, much as they did last week at Stamford Bridge. The problems, however, came further back, as the side's high defensive line backfired massively in the first half. Up against a very quick Arsenal attack, it was perhaps not the wisest decision to play so high up the pitch, as Azpilicueta found out to his detriment.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Willy Caballero, 5 -- The Argentine's distribution was wayward, while his handling of flighted crosses also lacked any conviction. Could do little to stop either of Aubameyang's goals.

DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 4 -- Everything that could go wrong seemed to for the Chelsea captain. It was his misjudged challenge on Aubameyang that led to the striker's penalty, which was compounded by a nasty-looking hamstring injury moments later.

DF Antonio Rudiger, 5 -- A disappointing display from the Germany international, whose distribution was surprisingly subpar. Some of his rash tackles were similarly costly.

DF Kurt Zouma, 6 -- Was the side's best defender on the day, stepping out of the backline excellently at times to sweep up loose balls. However, he'll be disappointed with his role in Aubameyang's second goal.

MF Reece James, 5 -- Failed to provide any meaningful contributions going forward and struggled early on against the pace of Maitland-Niles. A difficult afternoon to be playing at wing-back.

MF Marcos Alonso, 5 -- Early on, the wing-back was very nervy in possession, especially when deep inside his own area. Looked weary as the second half progressed.

MF Mateo Kovacic, 4 -- A tale of two halves. For the first 45 minutes, he was solid, but two needless challenges saw the 26-year-old sent off after 70 minutes.

MF Jorginho, 7 -- Was assured in possession throughout, while also working hard for the cause. The former Napoli man even played a crucial role in Pulisic's opener.

FW Mason Mount, 7 -- A constant menace, drifting inside from wide positions, often to good effect. His work rate was excellent, as the academy graduate never let the Arsenal players settle on the ball.

FW Christian Pulisic, 8 -- The American was the best player on the pitch for large spells. His opening goal, coming from a move he initiated, was lifted brilliantly over the Arsenal keeper. Unfortunately for Chelsea, he had to be replaced early in the second half, after sustaining a hamstring injury.

FW Olivier Giroud, 6 -- Worked tirelessly, but often cut an isolated figure. His flick assist for Pulisic's opener was inspired, but after that moment of magic, the World Cup winner's influence did begin to wane.


DF Andreas Christensen, 6 -- Replaced Azpilicueta on the half-hour mark following the captain's injury. Settled well into the Chelsea backline until Aubameyang's second, which left the 24-year-old stricken following a clash with Hector Bellerin.

FW Pedro, 6 -- Had the unenviable task of replacing Pulisic, and suffice to say, he wasn't able to replicate former Dortmund man's influence despite a handful of dangerous dribbles right at the death.

FW Callum Hudson-Odoi, N/R -- Provided good energy late on but wasn't able to carve out an opportunity for himself or his teammates.

FW Tammy Abraham, N/R -- Didn't get the required service in the closing moments of the game.

MF Ross Barkley, N/R -- Started to dictate play straight after coming on.