Arsenal and Chelsea are set to take the field at the Wembley Stadium on Saturday with the winner getting their hands on the FA Cup trophy.
Arsenal have endured a truly horrible campaign – a season that saw Wenger’s long-standing streak of top-four finishes being broken. The Gunners, though, can still end the campaign with a decent morale boost for the upcoming campaign, if they manage to triumph on Saturday.
Chelsea, though, will be eyeing a double – a feat that will be magnanimous considering it is Antonio Conte’s maiden season in England. The Blues were dominant in their Premier League triumph and could add another title to John Terry’s already glittering career, with the veteran set to depart in the summer.
Saturday is set to be an intense encounter – one which could possibly worsen the mood in the Arsenal camp ahead of a crucial summer of overhaul or on the other hand, could bring some cheer to the otherwise gloomy campaign for the Gunners.
We take a closer look at the fixture.
Team News & Tactics
Arsene Wenger has plenty of injury issues to deal with going into the match. Laurent Koscielny is already suspended for the tie while Shkodran Mustafi is a heavy doubt for the game, thus accentuating Wenger’s defensive injury woes, something which could see him revert to a back four.
On the other hand, the game could see Per Mertesacker return to the lineup, accompanied by youngster Rob Holding who has shown no signs of being fazed by the situation, whenever called upon.
The game could well be Alexis Sanchez’s last game in an Arsenal jersey and the Chilean would be hoping to cap his Gunners career with a trophy. Arsene Wenger has also confirmed that David Ospina is set to start in goal, in place of the seasoned Petr Cech.
The main surprise though could be upfront where Arsenal could line up with Danny Welbeck spearheading the attack, in Giroud’s stead, after the former Manchester United man impressed in the Gunners’ last two Premier League matches.
Probable Lineup ( 3-4-2-1 ): Ospina; Holding, Mertesacker, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Gibbs; Ozil, Sanchez; Welbeck
Chelsea do not have any of their regulars missing for the tie with Ruben Loftus-Cheek the only confirmed absentee so far. Antonio Conte is likely to retain his most-picked lineup from the Premier League, with Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta the trio at the back.
All eyes, though, will be on the likes of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, both of whom have been linked with moves away from the club. The duo is likely to be Chelsea’s attacking outlet on Saturday and are likely to pose a potent threat on the Gunners’ goal.
Probable Lineup ( 3-4-3 ): Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Matic, Kante, Alonso; Pedro, Costa, Hazard
1. Antonio Conte is yet to win a domestic cup (except Super Cups) as a manager.
2. Arsene Wenger could become the most decorated manager in FA Cup history if Arsenal triumph on Saturday, overcoming George Ramsay, who he is tied with at 6 trophies each.
3. Chelsea are undefeated in their last four FA Cup finals that have taken place at the Wembley Stadium.
4. Arsenal and Chelsea have met each other in the FA Cup final only once before in their history, in the 2002 FA Cup final, where the Gunners emerged victorious.
5. In the two matches this season between the sides, at least one side has scored 3 goals.
Player to Watch
Since we may be seeing the last of Alexis Sanchez in an Arsenal shirt and even perhaps in the Premier League, with a move to Bayern Munich high on the cards, the Chilean will surely be the man to watch on Saturday as he attempts to end the season and perhaps his Arsenal career on a high.
With Arsene Wenger’s defence heavily depleted with injuries, it is likely to be down to the Gunners’ attacks to lead them to a win on Saturday and Alexis Sanchez will have to be at the core of it, if Arsenal do muster up a great fight, at the very least, if not a win.
Arsenal FC 3 – 1 Chelsea FC
Well, with such a depleted backline, it would be a shock if Arsenal manage to keep a clean sheet. However, Arsenal players and the fans will both be looking for a good ending to a torrid campaign. Despite Chelsea being too ominous at the present moment, Arsenal have dismantled the Blues once this season and can do so again on Saturday.
We can see the Gunners somehow managing to come out on top in the FA Cup final.