FA Cup Final
Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1
Alexis 4, Ramsey 79, Costa 76

This one meant so much more. How much more was evident as Arsene Wenger proudly brandished the winners medal his brilliant Arsenal side had just earned the club he has served for over two decades. Wenger has now won a record seven FA Cups at Arsenal, for a total of thirteen in the club’s history. With the 2-1 Wembley destruction of Chelsea, the Gunners re-enacted the outcome from their 2002 victory at Cardiff’s Millennium stadium. Anyone remember that one, and it’s only Ray Parlour quip? Wenger said he’d be keeping this medal, its significance all the greater in the context that he has now won more FA Cup’s than Liverpool and Chelsea have done in their respective histories, and that takes some doing. Alexis Sanchez gave Arsenal the lead in a game which they dominated. Mesut Özil had an effort clipped off the line, and Danny Welbeck had further chances to increase the Gunners’ lead. Reduced to ten men when Victor Moses was shown a second yellow card for a blatant dive, Diego Costa levelled, only for Aaron Ramsey to get the winner once again with a diving header from substitute Olivier Giroud’s cross.

A true final in every sense of a Wembley occasion, this was English football at it’s finest, and for a team so dominant in the Premier League, Chelsea were simply out thought, out fought and out gunned as the Gunners claimed London bragging rights yet again.

Many had predicted an Arsenal humbling ahead of the game, after all, they had a defensive crises to contend with, and having played just just 37 minutes in the season, Per Mertersacker was recalled for his first start, at the middle of a three man defence which also included Nacho Monreal and 21 year old Rob Holding.

Holding is developing into a special talent, and his appetite to confront Costa was brave and refreshing. Costa had gotten no change out of Mertersacker all afternoon, the German was brilliant in his leadership and defensive experience. Holding was maybe a little timid as Costa bore down for David Ospina to make a important second half save, and may have missed the flight from Willian’s cross from which Costa levelled, but the youngster was on his game to thwart Eden Hazard, and Costa, as were his Arsenal team-mates who were not only on their game, they meant business.

Alexis loves Wembley, and his opener after five minutes was fortune rewarding the brave. Ramsey hassled and to win possession as Chelsea threatened to break. He played in Nacho Monreal, who picked out Alexis. The Chile striker took a high return from David Luiz’s attempted clearance, raced onto the looping ball to place past Thibaut Courtois after four minutes. A brief conversation form the officials ensured, but the goal stood and the Arsenal fans roared their delight.

It should have been 2-0, when Özil took Alexis’s pass to cut in a chip which beat Courtois, but the back peddling Gary Cahill back flicked off the line. Arsenal were inspired.

From an Özil corner Welbeck’s header clipped the onto post, with Ramsey unable to follow it in.

On another break, Welbeck was slipped in by Alexis, and having taken a one two return from Hector Bellerin saw his effort kept out by Courtois. Granit Xhaka showed us the player he can be with an impeccable afternoon keeping out N’Golo Kante, and the Switzerland midfielder struck from range but Courtois made the save. The Blues rare first half attack saw Pedro sky an effort when close, as Arsenal went in 1-0 at the break.

The energy levels and the intensity from both sides continued after the restart when Ospina held onto Kante’s long range strike.

Ramsey and Alexis replied with a move which saw Bellerin choosing to cross, when he could’ve gone on at Courtois.

Pedro replied with a shot which flew just wide from Moses cut back.
Arsenal stepped up again as Welbeck played in Ramsey. The ball broke for Bellerin who placed his shot, but saw Courtois save.

Following Moses second yellow for diving, Chelsea had to revert to a back four, a systems they had ditched after their 3-0 mauling at the Emirates stadium last November. Looking on is despair, Antonio Conte was not his ebullient self. This was not in his double script after all.

His mood would change however when substitute Willian’s cross was converted by Costa, but there were still 14 minutes to play. Three minutes later however and Giroud who moments earlier had replaced Welbeck ran at the the Blues defence before crossing to see Ramsey bury his header past Courtois.

Wenger replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain with the combative Francis Coquelin, but Arsenal went searching for more. Bellerin raced out and saw his squeezed low shot go just wide of Courtois’ upright.

With the save of the game, Ospina denied Costa as ten man Chelsea desperately went in search on another leveller.

Özil could have – and but for the post should have added a third for the Gunners. Put in by Giroud, he cut in off his marker, only to see his shot beat Courtois, but not his upright.

However that would all remain academic as Arsenal claimed another famous FA Cup final win, a victory over their capital nemesis, and that familiar double arm Wenger celebration was once again seen on the touchline. Wenger had made history as Arsenal lifted a record 13th FA Cup.