There will be a London derby in this year’s FA Cup final as Arsenal and Chelsea battle it out at Wembley.
North meets west London in the final, with the two teams undeniably experienced in this competition. They have won 12 of the last 20 editions, with a combined 21 FA Cup triumphs between the two clubs.
With a wealth of big-name players at both Arsenal and Chelsea, this is 90min’s combined XI of the available players for Saturday’s FA Cup final.
With Bernd Leno injured and Kepa Arrizabalaga out of form, the number one spot falls to Gunners goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez. The 27-year-old has made 22 appearances throughout the season, but this will be the biggest game of his Arsenal career.
Nevertheless, Martínez has been in strong form since coming in for Leno, playing every minute of their FA Cup run.
While Reece James and Héctor Bellerín are talented full backs in their own right, César Azpilicueta is the clear choice. The Chelsea captain has made the second-most appearances under Frank Lampard this season, keeping a top level of consistency.
Azpilicueta will want to lift his second trophy as club captain and second against Arsenal after the Europa League last year.
In a season where Chelsea have often been calamitous in defence, Kurt Zouma has shown his worth at points throughout the campaign. The Frenchman has been sitting comfortably at the heart of the back three, looking at ease in between Azpilicueta and Antonio Rüdiger.
The Frenchman has made four appearances in the FA Cup this season, and was an unused substitute when Arsenal were victorious in the 2017 final. This Saturday he has a shot at redemption.
Rewind six weeks and you would not expect to see David Luiz anywhere near this team. But for all of his shocking mistakes this season, he has shown what he can do in defence.
Luiz’s semi-final performance against Manchester City is a notable example, where he put in a solid redemption display. If Mikel Arteta opts for a back three again, the Brazilian will be pivotal.
Tierney gets the nod at left back. Injury meant had to wait for his chance to break into the first team, but recent performances have shown exactly why he makes this combined XI.
The Scotsman scored his first goal in red on the final day of the league season, helping round off a 3-2 win over relegated Watford. As he continues to settle into life in north London, an FA Cup win would be the perfect end to his fairytale first season.
A sound contender for Chelsea’s player of the season, Mateo Kovačić has been absolutely outstanding this season. Like Azpilicueta, the Croatian midfielder has offered a level of consistency and quality that the Blues have so greatly vied for this season.
Kovačić will be at the heart of midfield in whatever set-up Frank Lampard chooses, and will need a big performance at Wembley to win the cup.
Despite being misunderstood and underrated by many this season, Granit Xhaka remains one of Arsenal’s best midfielders. It has been a rollercoaster of a season for the 27-year-old, but he is more pivotal than ever in the Gunners’ midfield.
He began life in north London by winning the FA Cup against Chelsea back in 2017. The Swiss will certainly be one to watch for this weekend’s final.
No Chelsea player has played more games this season than Mason Mount. A player who has truly shone in his debut campaign at Stamford Bridge, the 21-year-old has eight goals and six assists in 51 games, turning up when it matters for Lampard’s men.
His attacking quality and versatility has been valuable for Chelsea, with important goals against Wolves and Manchester United in recent weeks.
For his performances since the restart alone, one of the first names on this teamsheet would be Christian Pulisic. The American struggled to find his feet in his early days in England, but since he recovered from injury he has been unstoppable.
Pulisic has 20 goal contributions in his debut season, with eight of those coming in his last nine Premier League appearances.
Having spent a combined eight years with both Chelsea and Arsenal, Olivier Giroud will be a popular choice to lead the line in this team. The Frenchman has been on fire since football returned, with seven goals in his ten appearances.
Giroud is almost certainly going to start up front, ahead of younger options Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi. He won the FA Cup three times with Arsenal.
Along with the prolific Chelsea pair of Pulisic and Giroud, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the only fair selection to complete the front three. His brace was decisive in guiding the Gunners to the FA Cup final, in a man of the match display and a true captain’s performance in the final four.
Aubameyang is surely the favourite to be named Arsenal’s player of the season, and it is clear to see why. The Gabonese frontman has scored 27 goals in 43 appearances, and will be looking to end on a high when he leads his side out at Wembley.
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