Chelsea defender Cesar Azplicueta feels Arsenal were aided by bizarre decisions from referee Anthony Taylor in Saturday’s FA Cup defeat to the Gunners.
The Blues lead at Wembley thanks to Christian Pulisic’s early goal but Arsenal completed the comeback with a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang double, the first of which was from a penalty Azilicueta conceded.
After the game, Azpilicueta expressed his disappointment over some of the decisions referee Taylor – who also refereed Chelsea’s 2017 FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal – made in the game, though he admits the Blues must also look at themselves.
“A lot of times there were 50/50s (that went in Arsenal’s favour) and we had the same in 2017 but we have to look further than this,” he told the Chelsea club website.
“We have to look at ourselves. We know two weeks ago when we played against Man United, we really controlled it.
“We played our game, we were on top of them against a very good side but today we couldn’t do it for 90 minutes and, in the end, that makes the difference.”
Speaking about the defeat itself, the full-back added: “It’s painful and a tough one to take. Obviously when you lose a final, it’s always painful.
“We started the game well and scored an early goal which normally gives a confidence to build on but we didn’t capitalise on it. We dropped our level a little bit and we were punished.
“When you score an early goal, you have control of the game. We had a couple of chances after that to make it 2-0.
“It’s a final and we knew that we were playing against a side that have good attacking players and they can be dangerous. After this, we couldn’t get into our game as we wished.”
The defeat leaves Chelsea trophyless this season, but it will provide key lessons to learn from, according to Azpilicueta.
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“It’s my first time that it’s happened and it hurts a lot when that happens in a final like today,’ added the Chelsea skipper.
“Sometimes it’s football and it’s life but it’s hard to take.
“Now we have to learn from the game, even if you always want to learn when you win and when you lift trophies rather than by losing these kind of games. It’s tough but we have the next challenges that we have to be ready for.”