FA Cup final: The Wembley showpiece that deserved so much more

Highlights: Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 to win FA Cup

Arsenal’s coach arrived at Wembley for the Heads Up FA Cup final to be greeted by a small group of observers and one middle-aged supporter waving a large flag.

The Gunners’ match-winner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang concluded the victory celebrations by stepping down alone from the winners’ podium, scrambling his way through gold streamers scattered on the turf before taking polite applause from those left inside a virtually deserted national stadium.

In between, Arsenal’s world-class striker delivered a match-winning virtuoso display against Chelsea to settle a final that deserved to be played out in front of a full house in the famous arena – not a select few on the first occasion the great domestic showpiece has been played behind closed doors.

Many games have been accompanied by a surreal air since “Project Restart” took the sport out of its hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic – none more so than this final, the game that traditionally provides the grand conclusion to the domestic season.

A small number of Arsenal fans celebrate on Wembley Way after the club secure a record 14th FA Cup triumph’Wembley ghost town’

In the hours before the kick-off, it was almost like a ghost town – as far away from the usual pomp and excitement and buzzing FA Cup final atmosphere as it is possible to get.

There were touches of the old ceremonials, such as the rendition of the FA Cup final anthem “Abide With Me” delivered in pre-recorded fashion by Emeli Sande with dramatic pictures of her standing on the roof beamed into the stadium via the giant screens.

No pre-match presentations to members of the Royal Family. No smart suits for players or managers.

It is not sour or unromantic but simple reality to record that this did not feel like the normal FA Cup final.

The final was played at a near-empty Wembley’A final fit for 90,000 fans’

This was a game that deserved to be played out…


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