Arsenal managed to salvage their season by securing a trophy in their 2-1 win against Chelsea in the FA Cup final. The match saw an early controversial goal from Alexis Sánchez and a red card for Victor Moses amongst a myriad of missed chances for both sides.
Arsenal had a dream start to the match, scoring in the fourth minute through Alexis Sánchez. After both David Luiz and N’Golo Kanté failed to clear the ball, Sánchez rushed forward into the penalty area and slotted the ball into the far corner of the net.
The Chelsea defense was stunned, as Aaron Ramsey was initially flagged offside. But the referee decided that he was not interfering with play, so the goal stood. Arsenal’s early pressure had rewarded them with a controversial lead.
The heavy pressure was maintained by Arsenal, leading to more chances from Mesut Özil and Danny Welbeck. Chelsea managed to absorb most of the pressure, relying on counterattacks to create their chances.
Despite Chelsea’s attacking quality, they were not able to create much in the first half due to Arsenal’s smart pressing and defensive tactics.
The second half saw Chelsea push much harder for a goal, committing more and more men forward. However, they were punished before they were rewarded.
Victor Moses, already on a yellow card, charged into the box and went down under seemingly no contact. The referee did not hesitate to caution him, leading to a red card for the Chelsea man.
Going down to 10 men seemed to wake Chelsea up. 10 minutes later they had equalized through Diego Costa.
A cross from substitute Willian found Costa alone in the box, who chested the ball down and powered it into the net.
Chelsea’s celebrations were cut short three minutes later when Ramsey scored for Arsenal.
Olivier Giroud, the recent substitute, took the ball to the left on a counter attack, then delivered a cross to Ramsey. The Welshman was alone in the center of the box, allowing him to cushion his header into the net.
The match was much more open after this recent flurry of action. Both teams counterattacked with pace, and Costa and Özil both had excellent chances to score.
But Arsenal were very smart in running the clock down and holding possession, allowing them to see out the match.
Arsenal started the match by pressuring Chelsea very high up the pitch. Chelsea found it difficult to hold the ball and attack through the middle. They often were forced to resort to long balls, which were quite ineffective.
After the first goal, Arsenal managed to sit deeper, only pressing the area around the ball. If Chelsea beat the initial pressure, they still had to deal with Arsenal’s deep backline.
This tactic benefitted Per Mertesacker, as it allowed him to deal with players running at him without having to face his goal.
Chelsea only managed to create chances by spraying the ball out wide, stretching out Arsenal’s narrow backline. But they suffered by having wide players such as Moses and Pedro cutting inside, making it much harder to dribble through tight spaces.
After the red card and the inclusion of Willian, Chelsea did better to form quick counters and deliver accurate crosses from out wide. Their goal ultimately came from these adjustments.
Arsenal won the game by using substitutes Coquelin and Giroud to hold the ball up and maintain possession in safe areas, limiting Chelsea’s effect on the match.
Kings of the FA Cup
With this win, Arsenal can add another FA Cup to their trophy cabinet. This is their 13th time lifting the FA Cup, surpassing Manchester United to make them the team with the most wins.
This win will also help fans forget about Arsenal’s disappointing 5th place finish in the league, since only two other teams in the top six can say they’ve won a trophy this season.
Meanwhile, Chelsea will be disappointed with their performance today, but winning the league in such dominant fashion still makes their season a resounding success.