Arsenal beat favourites Chelsea in the FA Cup Final at Wembley by 2 goals to 1 as Arsene Wenger made history by lifting the coveted trophy for the seventh time.
The Gunners were deserved winners and had a game plan that worked brilliantly as they closed down Premiership Champions Chelsea who appeared tired and looking forward to their holidays by the sea.
This was the third time in four years that the North Londoners have lifted the FA Cup and makes the ideas of Arsene Wenger leaving this week after 21 years with the Gunners look absurd.
Arsenal were out of the traps like a rat down a drainpipe as Chelsea struggled from the off with the red and white’s pace and excellent distribution of the ball.
The Gunners had only last week missed out on the Champions League and Chelsea had been hot favourites with the bookies to complete a remarkable debut season for manager Antonio Conte but were not at their clinical best as Arsenal, who finished fifth in the league rained on their parade.
They have now won it a record 13 times while manager Arsene Wenger, who is yet to say whether he will be extending his 21-year reign, is now the most successful manager in the history of the competition with seven wins.
The Blues made a dreadful start and were behind after four minutes thanks to Alexis Sanchez’s controversial opener but when Diego Costa levelled in the 76th minute it seemed they would complete a memorable season.
However, Conte’s side had to play the last 20 minutes with 10 men after Victor Moses was red carded following a second yellow card for diving.
Ramsey’s header in the 79th minute knocked the stuffing out of Conte’s side and Arsenal could even have extended their lead in the closing stages as Chelsea finally buckled.
Wenger, who failed to finish in the top four for the first time since taking charge in 1996, celebrated with his players in front of the massed red ranks of Arsenal fans at the end.
Wenger said “We had an outstanding performance from the first minute onwards. This team has suffered. They’ve united and responded. I said last week this team will be in the championship with one or two good buys. They showed strength and unity and played spectacular football today.”
Underdogs Arsenal enjoyed a dream start although there was huge debate about whether Sanchez’s effort should have stood. Most pundits thought it shouldn’t. When Sanchez initial attempt to chip the ball into Chelsea’s area was blocked, he appeared to knock the rebound forward with his arms before running through and shooting past Thibaut Courtois despite Ramsey standing in an offside position.
Full confusion reigned as the goal was initially disallowed but after consulting with his assistant Gary Bewsick who had raised his flag, referee Anthony Taylor awarded the goal. Chelsea were hard done by and the goal in many senses killed the game,
Chelsea never really recovered from that duff decision and Arsenal could have been out of sight before half time as they fully exploited the referee’s weakness and Chelsea’s disillusionment.
Mesut Ozil had a shot brilliantly back-heeled off the line by Gary Cahill while Chelsea had an amazing escape when Danny Welbeck’s header thumped against the post and Ramsey bundled the ball back against the same upright.
Despite being all at sea Chelsea did threaten with Costa denied by a perfectly-timed tackle by Per Mertesacker who was making his first start for Arsenal for 13 months and was exceptional for the Gunners.
Arsenal keeper David Ospina also bravely denied Costa s Chelsea came into the game with Hazard more to the fore.
Chelsea started the second half with more tempo and Footballer of the Year N’Golo Kante warmed Ospina’s fingers with a deflected drive from distance before Moses brought a fine save from Ospina after Costa played him in.
Chelsea were required to play the last 20 minutes a man down after referee Taylor’s second big call of the day, deciding that Moses had thrown himself to the floor under no obvious contact from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Chelsea staff were furious as Chelsea fans sang ‘12 man Arsenal’ in obvious reference to the referee seemingly biased towards the Gunners.
Just when it seemed their double hopes were slipping away, Costa equalised when his weakly-hit shot brushed off the excellent Mertesacker and past the diving Ospina.
However almost immediately, Arsenal had the last laugh when Chelsea’s defence went absent again, allowing Ramsey the freedom of the box to head substitute Olivier Giroud’s astute cut-back past Courtois.
Ramsey’s second goal in a week and his only two of the year was enough to win it for Arsenal. So thanks to Ramsey, Arsene Wenger became the most successful manager in the history of the FA Cup on Saturday.
He moved one ahead of George Ramsay who won six FA Cups with Aston Villa.
Here is a list of Wenger’s seven FA Cup triumphs.
1997-98 – Arsenal 2 Newcastle United 0
2001-02 – Arsenal 2 Chelsea 0
2002-03 – Arsenal 1 Southampton 0
2004-05 – Arsenal 0 Manchester Utd 0 (Arsenal 5-4 on pen)
2013-14 – Arsenal 3 Hull City 2
2014-15 – Arsenal 4 Aston Villa 0
2016-17 – Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1
Overall Arsenal deserved the victory but sadly the referee will be remembered for a couple of dicey decisions.
Well played Arsene Wenger, lets hope with his experience the man will be given the deserved plaudits and will still deservedly be at the Arsenal helm next season.
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