Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang holds the trophy with teammates in London. AP
Christian Pulisic had given Chelsea the dream start, but the Blues unravelled after Aubameyang was brought down by Cesar Azpilicueta inside the area and converted the resulting penalty.
A brilliant finish from Aubameyang 23 minutes from time earned Mikel Arteta silverware in his first season as Arsenal boss before Chelsea were controversially reduced to 10 men when Mateo Kovacic was shown an extremely soft second yellow card.
Arteta said ahead of the final he hoped a taste of success would encourage Aubameyang, who only has a year left on his contract at the Emirates, to commit to a new long-term deal.
The Gabon international's double took his tally for the season to 29 and ensured the Gunners will not miss out on European football next season for the first time since 1995/96 as they qualify for the Europa League.
An FA Cup final unlike any other with nearly 90,000 empty seats saw the traditional singing of "Abide With Me" performed on the Wembley roof.
Chelsea had already achieved their primary goal from Frank Lampard's first season in charge by securing a place in next season's Champions League last weekend and early on they seemed set to cap a top-four finish with Lampard's first trophy as a manager.
Emiliano Martinez flew to his left to turn Mason Mount's shot behind, but Arsenal did not heed that warning as Chelsea's front three combined perfectly for the opener on five minutes.
Mount's low cross was flicked on by former Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud and Pulisic continued his scoring streak since football's return in June by showing quick feet before prodding the ball home.
Arteta has gained plenty of plaudits for his tactical nous during his first eight months in a managerial role and the Spaniard managed to reorganise the Gunners during the first-half drinks break to change the momentum of the game.
A minute after play resumed, Nicolas Pepe thought he had curled home a brilliant equaliser from the edge of the box, only to be denied by Ainsley Maitland-Niles being flagged for offside in the build-up.
While Chelsea have already significantly strengthened their forward line for next season with the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, Arsenal are hoping just to hold onto their key man in Aubameyang.
Just like in the semi-final win over Manchester City, he proved to be the match winner as he raced onto Kieran Tierney's hopeful ball over the top and outpaced Azpilicueta before being brought down by the Chelsea captain just inside the area.
Azpilicueta escaped the double punishment of a red card, but VAR confirmed the spot-kick and Aubameyang coolly slotted home.
Chelsea were further hit by two big injury blows either side of half-time as Azpilicueta and Pulisic pulled up with hamstring injuries that will almost certainly rule them out of the Champions League last 16, second leg against Bayern Munich next weekend.
Despite Chelsea's major spending spree in reinforcing their attack, it is at the back where they have been found wanting all season and they were caught out too easily for the winner.
Hector Bellerin burst through the weak challenge of Jorginho before the ball was played into the path of Aubameyang, who skipped past Kurt Zouma and nonchalantly lifted the finish over Willy Caballero.
Worse was to come for Lampard's men when Kovacic was inexplicably sent off for the slightest touch on Granit Xhaka, but Anthony Taylor's decision could not be reviewed by VAR as it was a second bookable offence.
The 139th FA Cup final is the first to be played in front of no fans due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
Other American men to play in an FA Cup final include midfielder John Harkes for Sheffield Wednesday in 1993, and goalkeeper Tim Howard for Manchester United in 2004 and Everton in 2009.
The Women's FA Cup has already seen an American scorer in a final, with Carli Lloyd netting in Manchester City's 4-1 win over Birmingham in 2017.
Carl Jenkinson, Alex Lacazette and John-Jules were on the target as Arsenal rallied to beat Al Nasr 3-2 in a friendly match at the refurbished Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai on Tuesday.
Pedro Rodriguez starred as Chelsea withstood a spirited Slavia Prague fightback in a wild 4-3 victory to qualify for the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday, while Arsenal knocked out Napoli after an assured display in Italy.
Arsenal will play Chelsea in the Europa League final after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the hat-trick that ended Valencia’s hopes of another dramatic European comeback on Thursday. Chelsea entered the Europa League final after scraping past Eintracht Frankfurt 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 semi-final, second leg draw on Thursday.
Olivier Giroud is relishing the prospect of beating his old Arsenal team-mates when he lines up for Chelsea in the Europa League final in Baku on May 29. The 32-year-old French World Cup winner’s move across London 18 months ago has failed to deliver the regular first team football
The UAE-based GPX Racing has become only the second Emirati team to take outright victory at the Hankook 24H DUBAI after a commanding performance at the Dubai Autodrome on Saturday.
The deciding fourth Test between Australia and India in Brisbane hung in the balance on the second day after a massive thunderstorm caused play to be abandoned on Saturday following the tea break.
Three passengers on two charter flights that brought them to Melbourne on Saturday tested positive to Covid-19, causing 47 players on those flights to be barred from practising for a fortnight, in what could be a major setback to their Australian Open preparations.
Al Wahda Jiu-Jitsu Club recorded a strong start in the first rounds of the revamped Mother of Nation (MoN) and Vice President’s Jiu-Jitsu leagues, comprehensively claiming the Adults title in both tournaments held at Dubai’s Al Nasr Sports Club