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Arsenal Beat Chelsea To Lift FA Cup: Chelsea 1 – 2 Arsenal

Arsenal
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 27: (4thL) Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker lifts the FA Cup with (L) Jeff Reine-Adelaide, (2ndL) Aaron Ramsey (R) Rob Holding and (2ndR) Alexis Sanchez after the Emirates FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsene Wenger ended one of the most difficult seasons of his career with admirable defiance and leading Arsenal to a 2-1 victory over Chelsea, becoming the manager that has won more FA Cups than anybody with seven, and ensure Arsenal are again the club to have won it more than anybody else with 13.

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So much of the discussion after this game will of course be about Wenger and his future – as well as that rich history in the competition – but so much of this 2-1 win over eventual 10-man Chelsea was about the commitment he had infused his team with, that was in striking contrast to the champions’ eyebrow-raising complacency.

Antonio Conte – who has still never won a knock-out competition – was wary of exactly that and had said that he wanted to see “fire in the souls” of his players, but we only saw that from Arsenal, especially from match-winner Aaron Ramsey and so often the game-saver Per Mertesacker.

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They fully deserved this win, and it’s difficult not to think Wenger deserves this happiness after such a difficult and distressing season.

It was actually Arsenal who looked like champions, with the kind of assured display they hadn’t really offered since, well, the last time they beat Chelsea and set Conte’s side on the way to title.

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And, just as they were 3-0 up at half-time in that game, they could have been 3-0 up inside 20 minutes here. They were that rampant, and the actual champions that ragged.

Whatever about all the discussion over whether this is Wenger’s last game, too, Arsenal certainly played like it was theirs; like it had really sunk in that this could save their season. That ensured that the goal actually felt like it was coming even inside the brief but brilliant three minutes before it arrived.

Chelsea could of course argue that Alexis Sanchez might well have handled the ball and that there is something wrong with the rules if the fact Aaron Ramsey’s offside position was somehow irrelevant to whether the goal should have stood, but they couldn’t argue that Arsenal didn’t deserve it.

Wenger’s side really deserved much more, and could have scored a series of undeniably legitimate goals thereafter. Gary Cahill was forced into a supremely innovative backheeled clearance from a Mesut Ozil effort on 16, before Danny Welbeck hit the post with a header from a set-piece moments later.

It initially looked like Ramsey should have done better on the rebound, but on second view revealed that Welbeck himself should have done better with the header, since it rolled off his shoulder with the goal at his mercy.

The former Manchester United striker then had a second chance to get Arsenal’s second goal on the half-hour, only to take the wrong option after a slightly miscued Sanchez pass had put him through.

This was the thing with Arsenal at that stage. It wasn’t just that they had chances, but that there was such an electrical charge to how they were creating, given the way Sanchez was leading exhilarating bursts out of defence up the field.

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Costa was very lively and caused problems but one continued problem for Chelsea was that, against a composed and congested Arsenal defence, there were so many occasions when it would end up with Eden Hazard or Pedro on the ball on the wing and looking to pull it back… but only to see N’Golo Kante or Nemanja Matic there.

Having threatened the whole game, Costa finally produced with a typically brilliant bit of perseverance to wriggle free from two Arsenal markers and somehow get a deflected strike past the despairing desperate David Ospina.

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Within three minutes, Arsenal were back in the lead, as substitute Olivier Giroud was surprisingly let free to supremely cut the ball back for the oncoming Ramsey.

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The way he so full-bloodedly charged into the box so gloriously reflected the fire of the Arsenal performance.

The spark, it seems, is still there. As a consequence, the FA Cup is back there too, and back in the hands of the man that has held it more than anyone else.

By winning his seventh FA Cup, Wenger has now gone ahead of the great Aston Villa manager George Ramsay, whose record has stood for 97 years.

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