Arsenal stun Chelsea to claim record 13th FA Cup

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar May 29, 2017 21:37

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Arsenal stun Chelsea to claim record 13th FA Cup

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By Richard Piggford © Richard Piggford (May 27th 2017)

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Historic

Frenchman, Arsène Wenger, secured his record seventh FA Cup final victory as Arsenal produced a magnificent display to beat 10-man Chelsea, at a sun-drenched Wembley Stadium this evening. Before proceedings began, Wembley fell silent to pay tribute to the 22 victims, who tragically lost their lives in the terrorist attack which occurred in Manchester earlier in the week. The game itself, got underway in blistering fashion. After only four minutes, Alexis Sánchez gave Arsenal the lead, firing home with the outside of his right boot to beat Thibault Courtois, in very contentious fashion. Referee, Anthony Taylor, overruled his assistant after he had flagged for offside against Aaron Ramsey, and the goal was given.

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The Premier League champions’ players were incensed, believing Sánchez had handled in the run up to the goal as well. The game continued a breathless tempo throughout the first half, with Arsenal almost doubling their lead on two occasions. Firstly, in the sixteenth minute when Gary Cahill, very cleverly cleared Mesut Özil’s effort off the line, before an out-swinging corner was met by Danny Welbeck who was unlucky to see his header hit the base off the post, with Özil failing to convert the rebound.

Courageous

Wenger made some brave decisions. Shorn of the services of captain, Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel unfit, Wenger took a huge chance and was rewarded with an imperious performance from the World Cup winning German defender Per Mertersacker. Arsenal, who stuck to their unfamiliar 3-5-2 system looked comfortable at the back, with the returning Mertesacker, making his first appearance of the whole season, impressing alongside the young Rob Holding. Arsenal looked to have doubled their lead in the thirty first minute but Cahill again denied them with a goal line clearance, this time from the impressive Welbeck.

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Arsenal took a 1-0 lead over Chelsea into half time.

Chasing

Former Chelsea stalwart Petr Čech was denied the opportunity to face his old team and Courtois, the man who replaced him, as Wenger elected to stick with cup keeper, the Colombia number 1 David Ospina. Into the second half, and Chelsea started brightly with Ospina making 2 good stops in quick succession. The first, a long range from the unusually poor N’Golo Kanté, the second a smart save to deny Victor Moses. This would be one of Moses’ last actions of the game as in the 68th minute he received his second yellow card for simulation after going down in the box, whilst being tracked by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

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This forced the ten men of Chelsea into a tactical switch, seeing them revert back to a flat back four. Conte introduced Willian in the 72nd minute and it didn’t take long for him to vindicate his manager’s decision playing a key role in the Chelsea equaliser. It was his hard work to find Diego Costa whose effort took a slight deflection on the way to beating David Ospina, sending the Chelsea fans into raptures. However, the lead lasted little over a minute, as the newly introduced Oliver Giroud, provided a glorious cross, for Welshman Aaron Ramsey to bullet a diving header into Courtois’ net and regain Arsenal’s advantage.

The final stages of the game seen Arsenal almost stretch their lead further. Héctor Bellerín really should have done better, when presented with an opportunity 12 yards out, while Özil, again struck the base of the post after cutting in and smashing a left foot effort goal-ward. The full time whistle brought scenes of jubilation to the Arsenal fans and staff as Arsène Wenger and Arsenal broke history. Wenger with his 7th FA Cup became the most successful manager in the competitions history, breaking a record he previously shared with the late George Ramsey. This was also a record breaking 13th FA cup for the Gunners.

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Managers’ Perspective

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“We had an outstanding performance from the first minute onwards”, Wenger said. “This team has suffered. They’ve united and responded. They showed strength and unity and played spectacular football today. I’m proud to have won seven of these cups. I’m proud having done this – winning the championship without losing and winning seven FA Cups”.

“I think the first goal was very strange”, Antonio Conte said. “The first half, we didn’t start well, we didn’t have the right approach and we suffered in first 25 minutes. We started to play better in the second half and the red card was decisive”.

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He also railed against the award of the first goal, convinced that Sánchez. “There is disappointment for the final result, but it can happen and there was a lot of pressure”, Conte said. “Honestly, the goal after three minutes in this way, it [should have been] disallowed because there was a clear handball but our start wasn’t good for the first 20-25 minutes then we started to play. I don’t know if my players had time to recover [from the first goal]. There is a clear handball and I don’t understand why the referee didn’t decide to blow his whistle. It can happen. The players make a mistake and the referee makes a mistake. I saw a lot of these decisions against us this season – [Manchester] United, Bournemouth – this is the same. I think we were unlucky”.

Conte was adamant that Moses had not cheated. He insisted that there had been contact, but he was not sure if there was enough for a penalty. He praised Moses’ contribution during the season. “Victor Moses has been good and played an important season”, he said. “Our season was incredible to win the league in this way, it was great but now it’s important to look forward and to restart”.

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A lot remains to be seen regarding Arsène Wenger and his future. One thing is for sure is: he was a very proud man on Saturday evening. He even stated in his press conference he had kept his medal today, as he felt it was significant win. His final win after 20 incredible years as Arsenal manger? Time will tell.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar May 29, 2017 21:37