Wow… what a day, what a game and what a result!
I still can’t believe it now and it’s been over a week. I along with many other Arsenal fans went into the game thinking deep down we were going to lose but my optimism predicted 2-1 to us (lucky prediction or can I tell the future?) or penalties. I also said Sanchez would score on what still could be his last game for us. Will this trophy make him stay with us next season?
For this highly anticipated game with a lot on the line for us in particular, Wenger stuck with the same (Chelsea) formation once again. This was a bit surprising as we had 3 centre backs missing but we still had enough in youngster Holding, fit again captain Mertesacker (who was starting his first game of the season) and Monreal who has played there before.
Aside from lack of game time, Mertesacker was a big risk as his lack of pace could have been exploited by the likes of Hazard and Pedro but his positioning is usually very good and he actually rarely gets caught out in games. Perhaps we needed him and his leadership more throughout this season?
The really good news was that the Ox was back again but this time at left wing back as Bellerin has really thrived at right wing back and I thought this really was the right decision and was surprised that Wenger choose it. Alexis was also fit enough to start (although he would play with an injury) and was predictably crucial for us once again. Welbeck also rightfully started instead of Giroud to give us much needed mobility up front.
We got our reward for our early pressure but the goal was controversial. Alexis Sanchez (who else?) arguably hand-balled it and Ramsey was in a offside position – but apart from that it was fine. Ramsey didn’t interfere with play but perhaps we got lucky with Sanchez as the Chelsea players all claimed against him.
I along with all the Arsenal fans around me went crazy but it felt like an eternity before the goal was actually given after the referee consulted the linesman. So we were 1-0 up controversially but we needed all the luck we could get. What a start to the final as well with only 5 minutes gone!
This goal really got us going and Chelsea didn’t know what hit them. I think they underestimated us a bit and thought they would win quite easily. We could have added a second goal when Özil chipped the keeper only for Cahill to clear off the line and then Welbeck hit the post followed by Ramsey.
The first half somehow finished only 1-0 to us and this flattered Chelsea as we were the better team by far and deserved to be more ahead.
Chelsea unsurprisingly came out better in the second half but we managed to soak up a lot of pressure and hit them on the counter attack. Bellerin came close for us and they struggled to actually make any clear cut chances.
Then came a game changing moment when Victor Moses (cheat) went down in the box claiming for a penalty. This was rightfully turned down and he was sent off for a second yellow card for diving and should be banned for a while. Diving really is a big problem though in football and needs to be stamped out by bigger punishments which will rightfully take place next year.
This decision only seemed to make Chelsea play better though as they did eventually draw level (76th minute) through the man that shall not be named. He typically used his pyshicality and took a shot which deflected off both Holding and Mertesacker (who were both outstanding throughout) and past Ospina who perhaps should have done better as he got a touch on it but it was weak.
It was a massive blow for us as it looked like we were going to hold on but we had to pick ourselves up again and make the most of the extra man.
Fortunately we did hit back straight away (just 3 minutes after their equaliser) from virtually the next attack. It was set up brilliantly by substitute Giroud who with his first touch of the game whipped in a first time cross which perfectly fell to Ramsey for a diving header to surely win us the game and the FA Cup. It would be Ramsey’s second winning goal in an FA Cup final as well – he really knows when to score them!
For this goal it was probably the most I have ever celebrated and everyone around me went mad. Time stood still as the cross came in and you just knew Ramsey had to score it. I got hit in the face somehow but I didn’t care at all and just hoped we could hold on to win. Who says the FA Cup doesn’t mean that much to fans?
After late substitutions we could have added a third but we didn’t need to as the final whistle went and the Arsenal fans went wild once again. You could see how much it meant to the players and Wenger in particular as well which was great to see. After what has been a very tough and disappointing season we still managed to end well and win a trophy – unlike Spurs and other teams who haven’t won anything for a while now! Who needs top four and Champions League football?
We have now won the competition a record 13 times and Wenger has now won it an impressive 7 times which makes him officially the most successful manager in FA Cup history.
I loved watching the scenes after with all the players celebrating and Mertesacker (man of the match for me) and Koscielny lifting the trophy together. What will it mean to some players who might leave this summer? Will that be the last game for some of them?
Hopefully the players can use this success to really kick on next season in the Premier League for what will probably be Wenger’s penultimate season. Would he have signed a new contract if we hadn’t won? I reckon he would have as he wouldn’t want to end like that.
So we end the season on a high and with a trophy but what will happen this summer? Will we manage to keep our top players – Sanchez and Özil? Will we sign some new world class players?