Chelsea manager Frank Lampard blamed the poor effort and complacency of his players after losing the FA Cup final against Arsenal despite taking an early lead through a Christian Pulisic goal.
Arsenal won their record-extending 14th FA Cup title after Pierre-Emerick Aubamyang scored a brace to inspire Gunners to a 2-1 victory on Saturday at the empty Wembley Stadium.
“We started well for 10 or 15 minutes, scored a goal and created a few chances were in control of the game. But after that, we can only blame ourselves from that point in football terms,” Lampard was quoted as saying on the official website of Chelsea.
“We got complacent. We took too long on the ball, we started playing short passes like it was a stroll. An FA Cup final can never be a stroll. We allowed Arsenal back in the game and from that point onwards, it’s always going to be difficult. A lot of today was on us.
“In the second half we came out brighter, if Christian goes through and scores as opposed to missing and doing his hamstring – well, the circumstances in the game conspired against us.
It was Chelsea who had started the match on the front foot. Even after taking the lead in the fifth minute through Christian Pulisic, they kept Arsenal at bay and commendably avoided the little threats that Mikel Arteta’s team threw at them.
However, the balance shifted after the drinks break in the opening half. Arsenal upped their ante and unsettled Chelsea with more possession and greater intent on their attacks. Aubameyang scored a penalty in the 28th minute and produced a brilliant individual effort to give Arsenal the lead in the 67th minute.
Also, bad refereeing and injuries added more miseries to Chelsea’s cause. While Mateo Kovacic was sent off after a controversial decision from the match official, Lampard’s men saw three injured players leaving the ground in the course of 90 minutes.
Cesar Azpilicueta was the first to pull his hamstring in the first half, followed by Pulisic minutes later. The last one to leave the field was Pedro, who was the replacement for the American. His case was also more serious than anyone else as he was taken off on a stretcher after he hurt his shoulder.
“It’s a really disappointing end for him, because that is probably going to be his last game for Chelsea. He’s been an incredible servant, and he looked bright when he came on,” Lampard said.
“We didn’t have the luck with the injuries, and things all came together for us today in a way we wouldn’t want. Two hamstring injuries for Azpi and Pulisic, a dislocated shoulder for Pedro and Willian getting injured yesterday before the game.
“I’m not making excuses, because we didn’t perform well enough, but it felt like that was a tipping point with everything coming together at the same time,” the Blues coach added.