Who will light up Wembley as Arsenal meet Chelsea in FA Cup final?

Chris Hatherall on the key match-ups between Arteta's Arsenal and Lampard's Chelsea
Who will light up Wembley as Arsenal meet Chelsea in FA Cup final?
Chelsea's Jorginho and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal battle for the ball at the Emirates Stadium.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang v Olivier Giroud 

They may have different styles of play, but there’s no doubt that strikers Aubameyang and Giroud – Arsenal heroes present and past - are the biggest goal threats at Wembley.

Auba has 27 goals this season, including two in Arsenal’s shock FA Cup semi-final victory over Man City. But Giroud has scored in six out of the last seven games and is Project Restart’s most in-form player.

Arsenal fans haven’t forgiven the Frenchman for falling to his knees to celebrate a goal against them in last year’s Europa League Final, which Chelsea won 4-1, so there is added spice to the contest; and if Giroud celebrates again there are real fears that Aubameyang, without the comfort of a trophy, could depart. In terms of pure threat, Auba edges this head to head – but mentality on the big stage favours Giroud, who has already lifted three FA Cups with Arsenal and one with Chelsea.

Nicolas Pepe v Mason Mount 

Nine goals from Mason Mount in his first season in the big time, at the age of just 21, has rightly made people take notice. He scored in Chelsea’s FA Cup semi-final victory over Manchester United and has provided energy, trickery and calm finishing regardless of whether he is played through the middle or out wide. Recently he’s looked at home on the right of a front three also featuring Pulisic and Giroud, and as an all-round player he offers more than Nicolas Pepe. 

The Arsenal man has the edge, however, in terms of potential to turn a game on his own through a moment of inspiration. Both take a mean free-kick, both have an eye for goal (Pepe has eight this season), both are improving rapidly. But if forced put your money on one it would be the man who cost Chelsea nothing rather than the winger who cost Arsenal 80m Euros.

Dani Ceballos v Jorginho 

This one is a fascinating a battle between two players who like to dominate the ball and set the tempo of the game. Jorginho has had his critics at Stamford Bridge, particularly under Maurizio Sarri when his slow build-up play at the base of a midfield diamond seemed to stifle the creativity of others. But the ‘teacher’s pet’ under Sarri has kept his place under Frank Lampard, which tells you something about his attitude. This season he has been quicker and brighter. 

Ceballos, however, has a greater potential to decide the game if he arrives with his A Game. After a slow start under Mikel Arteta he is now approaching his top form, a constant whir of energy, technique and forward movement. Arsenal need the ball moved quickly if they are to utilise their potent front three, and Ceballos is key to it all.

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