Arsenal’s coach arrived at Wembley for the Heads Up FA Cup ultimate to be greeted by a small group of observers and one middle-aged supporter waving a big flag.
The Gunners’ match-winner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang concluded the victory celebrations by stepping down alone from the winners’ podium, scrambling his approach via gold streamers scattered on the turf earlier than taking well mannered applause from these left inside a nearly abandoned nationwide stadium.
In between, Arsenal’s world-class striker delivered a match-winning virtuoso show towards Chelsea to settle a ultimate that deserved to be performed out in entrance of a full home within the well-known enviornment – not a choose few on the primary event the good home showpiece has been performed behind closed doorways.
Many video games have been accompanied by a surreal air since “Project Restart” took the game out of its hiatus attributable to the coronavirus pandemic – none extra so than this ultimate, the sport that historically supplies the grand conclusion to the home season.
‘Wembley ghost city’
In the hours earlier than the kick-off, it was virtually like a ghost city – as distant from the same old pomp and pleasure and buzzing FA Cup ultimate ambiance as it’s doable to get.
There have been touches of the previous ceremonials, such because the rendition of the FA Cup ultimate anthem ‘Abide With Me’ delivered in pre-recorded vogue by Emeli Sande with dramatic footage of her standing on the roof beamed into the stadium through the large screens.
No pre-match displays to members of the Royal Family. No sensible fits for gamers or managers.
It will not be bitter or unromantic however easy actuality to document that this didn’t really feel like the traditional FA Cup ultimate.
‘A ultimate match for 90,000 followers’
This was a sport that deserved to be performed out earlier than a full home not 90,000 empty purple seats. It had a profitable aim that deserved the wonderful roar of appreciation reserved for such match-winning moments.
And Arsenal’s gamers deserved to stroll up Wembley’s steps to obtain the trophy, slightly than having to obtain their medals on the pitch.
Aubameyang deserved that small ovation as he made his approach again to the dressing room as a result of he was the focus of an Arsenal efficiency and success that makes it an excellent begin for supervisor Arteta, who solely succeeded Unai Emery in December and needed to cope with a three-month break within the season.
What they need to do now could be put collectively a bundle engaging sufficient to verify Aubameyang can be a part of future successes.
‘A day of big significance for Arteta’
Arsenal will wish to do enterprise this summer time to form the brand new period below Arteta – however essentially the most essential enterprise above all is protecting Aubameyang.
The wins over Premier League champions Liverpool and towards final season’s FA Cup winners Manchester City within the semi-final confirmed beforehand well-hidden reserves of metal and character from this Arsenal aspect.
They have been on present right here as they took the early blow of Christian Pulisic’s aim on the chin and pieced collectively a show that allowed them to get better and deservedly simply edge this sport.
It was a day of big significance for Arteta.
He has tangible reward for his work early in his reign, throughout which Arsenal’s gamers have purchased into his strategies and he has demonstrated ruthlessly that it’s his approach or no approach by the way by which Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi have been exiled. The pair have been nowhere close to this event or celebrations and seem to don’t have any half to play below the brand new regime.
It must also be mentioned that a lot of the issues that might go mistaken for Chelsea did go mistaken, from accidents to captain Cesar Azpilicueta and Pulisic to a second yellow card for Mateo Kovacic that seemed to be a completely mystifying determination from referee Anthony Taylor.
Yes, this was a surreal day – however set that apart and Arsenal and their younger supervisor, crowning his first season with the proper conclusion, will begin the brand new marketing campaign with optimism renewed and a trophy to parade after this landmark triumph.