Cup secured, Arsenal now need Aubameyang to spearhead Arteta revolution

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In an FA Cup final that felt like a signpost for where two clubs at the transitional beginnings of new eras might be heading, the contributions of those who might not follow the journey through weighed heavily.

Chelsea were ravenous in their pressing and insatiable in the midfield battles early on, laying a platform for Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic to sparkle. An eventual 2-1 defeat seemed improbable right then.

Both wide forwards were involved when Pulisic nimbly opened the scoring – the subtle shift of the ball with his left foot to make a dinked right-footed finish possible underlining the USA star's technical prowess.

Olivier Giroud was naturally on the spot against his former club, playing an inevitably shrewd hand. A rush of goals for the experienced striker has suggested a possible new twist on his immediate future. If Timo Werner thinks Chelsea's rippling, roughhousing centre forward is going anywhere quietly he should think again.

The prolific run of six goals in the seven matches preceding the cup final – including strikes in each of the past four – gave way to 2018 World Cup Giroud in that fifth-minute breakthrough. During that tournament, France's number nine contributed no goals, but provided the canvas for the celebrated artists around him to dazzle.

Having bustled into the box to occupy three Arsenal defenders, Giroud's impudent lay-off was deftly perfect. Pulisic almost made it 2-0 all by himself but his evening ended in the cruellest circumstances.

Comparisons between the 21-year-old and Eden Hazard sometimes felt lazy as his debut season at Stamford Bridge blossomed, but the close control and sureness of his dribbling to break free of the Gunners' backline early in the second half recalled the Belgian at his best.

It looked glidingly effortless, only Pulisic's hamstring begged to differ. Curiously, Frank Lampard – whose use of Chelsea's youth products has been so celebrated this term – opted for the soon to be out-of-contract Pedro, 32, as the replacement.

A worrying stoppage-time injury for the ex-Barcelona man means he has probably played his last game for the Blues, but Callum Hudson-Odoi must wonder what a future featuring Hakim Ziyech holds.

With Pulisic incapacitated, there could be little doubt over the prime attacking talent remaining on the field. And he was not wearing blue.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's big-game temperament has been called into question during a prolific stint with Arsenal. The Gabon international tweeted to show he was in on the joke after a brilliantly taken brace saw off Manchester City in the semi-final.

After Cesar Azpilicueta, who preceded Pulisic as a hamstring victim, hauled Aubameyang to ground in the area there were demons to face. At the same end of a populated Wembley, Arsenal's star striker had a stoppage-time penalty saved against Tottenham last season. For good measure, Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero was Manchester City's shootout hero between those same goalposts in the 2016 EFL Cup final.

Of course, the elite performers tend not to concern themselves with such peculiarities or feel the need to indulge in introspection. There can be no doubt Aubameyang belongs to such company. Caballero guessed wrong. Had he gone the right way, there was no chance of him saving a perfect penalty.

If the shift in first-half momentum felt like a sharp fork in the road, Arsenal turned the wheel of the second period in their favour more subtly. At its midway point, one of the finest winning goals to grace this showpiece arrived.

Aubameyang ghosted into ample room on the left-hand side of the Chelsea penalty area. As he stood 69 goals into his Arsenal career - soon to be 70 - the obvious question was how does a man so prolific slip into the danger zone without close attention time and again? It is certainly a gift worthy of the heftiest of contracts.

As it happened, he checked back, seemingly deciding to take on Kurt Zouma for his own amusement. Then came the finish, a beautiful chip to leave Caballero hopeless for a second time. The bedlam that would have unfolded under whatever normal circumstances used to be was easy to imagine.

A Europa League place and the associated uplift in budget means Arsenal might just have the means to negotiate the next pivotal point for the club's trajectory. There will be no spectators there then, either, But if Mikel Arteta can persuade Aubameyang to pick up a pen (without dropping it!) and sign a new contract, it would be even more significant than this first richly deserved trophy of his coaching career.