Chelsea’s FA Cup disappointment does not change assessment of Frank Lampard’s first season

When the dust settles and Frank Lampard is finally given an opportunity to review this longest season from some sort of objective distance, losing an FA Cup final 2-1 to Arsenal with two key players hamstrung and a dodgy refereeing decision seeing another sent off will perhaps not carry the same level of disappointment as one would typically expect from such situations.

Perspective is important on an evening like this.

Given the choice a short week ago of Champions League qualification or an FA Cup win, only a minority would have chosen the latter.

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That does not mean Chelsea’s players, staff and supporters will not be hurting but top four was always the number one priority in Lampard’s debut campaign, a target that so many had felt was beyond their reach before a ball was kicked.

This was just a very sweet bonus near the end of a season in which their primary goal was achieved. Sadly it turned sour.

The bigger cup final, if you can pardon the cliche, came against Wolves last Sunday, when they won 2-0 to confirm their place in Europe’s premier competition next season.

And it is worth asking how many of those at Arsenal would happily swap considering their travails and another season heading into the brutal Sunday-Thursday-Sunday Europa League calendar.

Before, during and after it felt like this was a little bit more important for Mikel Arteta’s side, who are probably on a more painful journey upwards.

Chelsea had even arrived at the national stadium in tracksuits, a grave insult in the minds of those who insist this competition maintains some sort of top-tier status rather than a tertiary priority behind the Premier League and Champions League.

Still, once the action got underway following what seemed like neverending pomp and ceremony – yes, social distancing is very important but did Emeli Sande really need to be catapulted onto…