Bukayo Saka

How will Chelsea, Arsenal line up in FA Cup Final?

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Are the FA Cup Final Starting XIs for Arsenal and Chelsea as straight-forward as they look given performances in recent weeks and fitness updates for two Blues’ stars?

[ MORE: FA Cup Final preview ]

We’re not going to say that’s absolutely true, but it’s not far off.


Chelsea projected lineup

Considering that N’Golo Kante and Willian have just passed fitness tests and Lampard says he doesn’t yet know if they can start, could considering his lineup be as this as simple as the men he used in the 2-0 win over Wolves?

Possibly not.

Yes, he used a 3-4-3 then with minimal changes to the FA Cup semifinal lineup that beat Manchester United, but he also deployed a 3-4-2-1 against Liverpool that same week.

Those are three very decent teams and all capable of attacking in a similar vein to Arsenal.

Let’s assume the 3-4-3, though; It’s reasonable to think that Willian could start since it was a late injury that kept him from the Wolves match and he was working to be available right to the wire.

Kante hasn’t played since the fourth of July. This is a big game, but we expect he’ll be kept on the bench since Jorginho has worked alright with Mateo Kovacic (who’s arguably the team’s engine right now). Ruben Loftus-Cheek is a surprise absence due to a late injury.

The only problem with our projection is that it assumes Lampard will choose Willian over Mason Mount. And Lampard absolutely loves Mount. So we’ll see.

Chelsea projected lineup

Caballero

Azpilicueta — Rudiger –Zouma

James — Kovacic — Jorginho — Alonso

Willian — Giroud — Pulisic


Arsenal projected lineup

Arsenal took just one point from Chelsea this season and played a 4-2-3-1 in both of those contests.

They’ve since played a lot of 3-4-3 aside from a 4-2-3-1 in the finale against Watford which could easily be viewed as a game between Arteta and game-planning Lampard.

There’s a question of whether Hector Bellerin is 100 percent and ready to start, and he went 90 minutes in the semifinal against Man City.

That lineup feels like a key to the whole endeavor, though Olivier Giroud is a handful.

We think Bellerin starts on the bench for a more natural left-sided guy in Bukayo Saka, who has deputized well at left back and adds some heat to Aubameyang’s side and can be taken out for Bellerin if the occasion is too much.

Shrkodan Mustafi’s injury likely brings in Rob Holding and confirms Tierney, with bench options Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Sean Kolasinac, and Bellerin for the back.

Arsenal projected lineup

Martinez

Mustafi — Luiz — Tierney

Maitland-Niles — Xhaka — Ceballos — Saka

Pepe — Lacazette — Aubameyang


How to watch Arsenal – Chelsea in the FA Cup Final

Kickoff: 12:30 pm ET Saturday
Online: ESPN+

Arsenal beats Wolves to strengthen European hopes

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Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette scored as Arsenal closed ground on the top five with a gritty and complete 2-0 win over Wolves at the Molineux on Saturday.

WOLVES – ARSENAL FULL MATCH REPLAY

Mikel Arteta’s project looks to be going well as Arsenal moves seventh with 49 points, three back of Wolves and four clear of rivals Spurs, who have a match-in-hand.

Wolves saw a four-match clean sheet run spoiled by Saka’s first-half goal. The sixth-place Wolves lose ground in the battle for a top four place and now sit two points behind Chelsea, who plays later Saturday. They are three back of Manchester United and six behind Leicester City.


Three things we learned

1. Arsenal begins gauntlet with promise: The Gunners need wins, not draws, if they want to creep up the table and into the European places by season’s end. Saturday was the first of three chances to take three points from a team it’s chasing, with a visit from Leicester City coming Tuesday before July 12’s North London Derby at Spurs. A team they won’t catch, Liverpool, follows so… get those points now and get your form sorted.

2. Saka celebrates new deal in style: Arsenal’s 18-year-old wonder worker on the left side came from the right to score his first Premier League goal. Kieran Tierney’s deflected cross gave Saka a chance to show his technique, and that left-footed side volley oozed the good stuff. Saka now has four goals and 10 assists in all competitions, and does not turn 19 until Sept. 5.

3. Wolves falter: Raul Jimenez was fine, which is substandard from his usual prowess, while Adama Traore didn’t do much after a lively start up top. Injections of Diogo Jota and Pedro Neto yielded little as you’d call this a certified dud. When Conor Coady is getting cooked, you know something’s not right.

Man of the Match

The best player on the pitch for either team might have been Ruben Neves. Wolves’ Portuguese midfielder had a goal-mouth clearance and sprayed long balls around the field as if he was four yards, not 40 away from his target.


Wolves – Arsenal recap

The first half did not live up to the billing of two offense-first teams, although Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah came close after the half-hour mark.

The best chance at the other saw a hesitant Raul Jimenez trouble Wolves’ promising rush into the 18.

Adama Traore drew a dangerous free kick off Sead Kolasinac that led to nothing as the match neared halftime.

It was Saka who stroked Arsenal in front in the 43rd minute, celebrating his new contract with a terrific left-footed side volley after Kieran Tierney’s cross was deflected into his path.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Traore came close for Wolves after the hour mark but Arsenal was staunch in its final third.

Arsenal got its second when Lacazette roasted Conor Coady with a slick first touch of Joe Willock’s pass as the Gunners needed a half-dozen moves to produce a goal from a David Luiz-won header at midfield.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang nearly had Willock on the board with a third Arsenal goal after Lacazette keyed a move in the final third, but Ruben Neves cleared the shot off the line.

WATCH: Classy Bukayo Saka goal puts Arsenal ahead at half

Bukayo Saka goal
Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images
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Bukayo Saka is celebrating his new contract in style.

Arsenal’s 18-year-old revelation showed classy technique with a side volley finish before halftime of the Gunners’ Saturday match against Wolves at the Molineux.

STREAM WOLVES – ARSENAL FULL MATCH REPLAY

Saka scored his first Premier League goal to give him four senior goals for the Gunners to go with 10 assists in exactly 2500 minutes across all competitions this season.

Saka stroked Arsenal in front in the 43rd minute, getting his foot over the ball to hit a terrific left-footed side volley after Kieran Tierney’s cross was deflected into his path.

He made his first team debut in three competitions last season but did not record a goal or assist in 123 minutes.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Bukayo Saka signs long-term Arsenal contract

Saka Arsenal
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Bukayo Saka has signed a new contract at Arsenal, committing his future to his boyhood club.

Saka, 18, has been a star performer for the Gunners this season, both at left back and now at his natural position at left wing.

The England youth international was out of contract next summer and Arsenal have been locked in contract talks with Saka for many months but finally he’s signed a long-term contract with the north London club.

“London is my home. Arsenal my team. I’m so happy to finally announce my contract extension. I love playing for this club and I’m looking forward to what the future holds. The hard work continues so I can continue living my dream. God is Great!,” Saka said.

Saka has registered 11 assists this season and his incredibly trickery out wide, combined with his positional maturity, has seen him become a fans favorite already. He has been at Arsenal since the age of eight and after being promoted from the academy during the 2018-19 season, he’s taken his chance.

Last week ProSoccerTalk asked Mikel Arteta about Saka’s future and how big of a player he can be and here’s what he had to say.

“It is in his hands. He has a manager that has total belief in him. He has a club that really supports him,” Arteta said. “He has teammates who adore him for who he is. He is such a nice boy. He is so intelligent and he is so willing to learn. We know he is eager to be the best and he trains to be the best every day. You can put him in different positions and he picks it up really quickly. The decisions he makes, if he takes risks I think he produces three goals today easily. The maturity he shows on the pitch is really good.”

Saka is clearly one of the top young prospects in the Premier League and with rival clubs across Europe trying to sign him, it is a huge boost that he’s committed his future to the Gunners. In the years to come he will be a star for Arsenal and it won’t be long until he’s in the England team.

Bukayo Saka has signed a new Arsenal contract and after plenty of comments on his Instagram page, his message to Arsenal’s fans was this: “I’ve signed da ting, made them happy!”

Arteta has message for Bukayo Saka

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Mikel Arteta has a message for Bukayo Saka, as the Arsenal teenager dazzled in the 2-0 win at Southampton.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Saka, 18, is out of contract next summer and has been in negotiations with the north London club for many months over a new deal.

ProSoccerTalk asked Arteta via Zoom after the game what he made of Saka’s display and his contract situation.

“It is in his hands. He has a manager that has total belief in him. He has a club that really supports him,” Arteta said. “He has teammates who adore him for who he is. He is such a nice boy. He is so intelligent and he is so willing to learn. We know he is eager to be the best and he trains to be the best every day.

“You can put him in different positions and he picks it up really quickly. The decisions he makes, if he takes risks I think he produces three goals today easily. The maturity he shows on the pitch is really good.”

Saka was sublime on the ball and in defense as the young winger is now back in his natural position after playing at left back for most of his debut season in the Premier League due to a host of Arsenal injuries.

His calmness on the ball, work rate, quality in possession and positioning is just sublime and he covers so much ground down the left flank.

Arsenal and Arteta clearly want Saka to stay but does the Arsenal academy product want to remain at the Emirates Stadium? He has some of the biggest clubs in the world trying to sign him and his previous message was that he will just let his agent get on with things and he will play as best as he can week in, week out.

Each week Saka plays like this, he and his agent are in an even stronger position to ask for a bumper contract.