Arsenal ended their season on a high as they triumphed in the FA Cup final with a 2-1 win over Chelsea on Saturday.
Arsenal won the FA Cup for a record 13th time as they ran out 2-1 winners over Premier League champions Chelsea on Saturday. It was a game that the Gunners thoroughly dominated from the first moment till the last, with Chelsea delivering a few scares along the way.
Arsenal didn’t take long to establish a foothold in the match as Alexis Sanchez gave them the lead by the 5th minute, albeit under controversial circumstances. The North Londoners looked comfortable from that moment as they created a raft of chances to put the game to bed.
However, it was Chelsea who grabbed the next goal as Diego Costa scored past David Ospina from a deflected effort with 15 minutes left in regulation time. Arsenal, though, reclaimed the lead not long after as Aaron Ramsey scored yet another FA Cup winning goal with in the 79th minute.
The Arsenal Cup! 🏆 pic.twitter.com/qtlesECoGB
— Arsenal (@Arsenalgorithms) May 28, 2017
The goal handed the Gunners a well deserved 2-1 win, making them the record FA Cup holders, and manager Arsene Wenger the most successful manager in the tournament’s history. The Hard Tackle now analyses the performances of Arsenal’s players after what turned out to be a well deserved win for them.
David Ospina: 7/10
The Colombian was a surprise name when the teams were announced an hour prior to the match, as he was preferred ahead of former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech. However, Ospina gave a good account of himself through the match as he made two top notch saves in either half to keep Arsenal in the lead.
He should have done better with Diego Costa’s goal, but an all in all creditable performance justified Arsene Wenger’s preference for him over Cech, however shocking it might have been initially.
Rob Holding: 7/10
The youngster has truly been a revelation for Arsenal this season, showing maturity beyond his years all through the campaign. And Saturday’s game was another in which Holding impressed yet again, as he managed to keep Diego Costa quiet – and frustrated – for large parts of the match.
And although the Englishman did make an error that led to Chelsea’s goal as he lost his mark on Costa, he remained assured and solid otherwise. All in all, though, Holding showed, yet again, why Arsene Wenger has been willing to invest so much into him.
Per Mertesacker: 9/10
No surprise at all with this one…
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) May 28, 2017
Arguably the best individual defensive performance of the season by any Arsenal player this season. And it came from a player who was making his first competitive start in 392 days. Per Mertesacker produced a truly captain’s performance on Saturday, as he kept the dangerous Chelsea attack at bay.
Dominant in the air as well as on the ground, his last-ditch tackle on Pedro personified just how special his performances was on the day. Hard to believe that Mertesacker was making his first start of the season, in what was arguably the most important game of the season for Arsenal.
Nacho Monreal: 8/10
Another game in which the Spaniard played in the makeshift position in the back-three – another performance that proved his worth in Arsene Wenger’s side. Monreal, much like another full-back playing in a new role in a three-man central defence, has taken to it with aplomb, and how.
Taking on a much quicker group of attackers, Monreal managed to stand toe-to-toe against pacy players. On top of that, he also started the attack that ended with Sanchez netting the opener. All in all, this was as close to a complete performance that Monreal has turned in all season, and it looks like this new role could hand him a new lease of life at the Emirates.
Hector Bellerin: 8/10
As was the case for the bulk of the Arsenal side that took the pitch on Saturday, Bellerin turned in his best performance in months. In an energetic display that had become typical of him in recent seasons, the Spaniard looked every bit the player who had Arsenal fans excited with his potential.
Bellerin was a menace to deal with in the final third as he regularly bombed down the right flank. At the same time, he was also impressive at the back as he worked hard to help the back-three. Could have scored Arsenal’s third goal before Thibaut Courtois made a fine save, but this was an outing that could be a turning point in his Arsenal career.
Aaron Ramsey: 8/10
Here’s another player whose had a positive change in fortunes following the shift in system by Arsene Wenger, and Aaron Ramsey continued his recent rich vein of form on Saturday as well.
In a typically tenacious performance, the Welshman controlled the midfield superbly, while also making the dangerous runs off the ball that he is renowned for. To cap off yet another solid performance, Ramsey even grabbed the winning goal – his second in the last three FA Cup finals for Arsenal.
Granit Xhaka: 9/10
Now that Xhaka has found his feet, he’s one of Arsenal’s best players.
What a player! pic.twitter.com/7lNx1E01bI
— TheArseneView (@TheArseneView) May 27, 2017
A player who has come into his own in the last month or so, Xhaka is starting to repay the faith that Arsene Wenger has put in him. Often criticised for being reckless this season, the Swiss read the game superbly to avoid getting into 50-50 situations.
But what was especially remarkable about Xhaka’s performance on the day was his distribution, as pin-point ball after pin-point ball meant that Arsenal controlled the game beautifully all through the match. Arguably his best performance of the season and an indication that things are looking sunny for him.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6/10
Oxlade-Chamberlain made a quick recovery from a hamstring injury to make the starting eleven on Saturday, much to Arsene Wenger’s relief.
But while, he displayed a tremendous work-rate throughout the match, the injury still had some effects showing in the Englishman’s performance, as he conceded a few needless fouls. Nevertheless, it was a tireless performance from Oxlade-Chamberlain even as he played in a position that is largely alien to him.
Mesut Ozil: 8/10
Often chastised for being ineffective in big games, Ozil arguably saved his best performance of 2017 for what was one of the most important games of the season for Arsenal. Playing with freedom, the German playmaker pulled the strings beautifully showcasing his unmatched vision all through the match.
And even as he dictated play for Arsenal on the day, Ozil especially impressed with his commitment and work rate defensively as he tracked back time and again, while also executing a remarkable tackle on Eden Hazard. A performance that showed just how important he is for Arsenal ahead of a season of rebuilding.
Alexis Sanchez: 9/10
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) May 27, 2017
Back to his best, not like he was ever out of form, though. Sanchez grabbed the early lead for his side and worked tirelessly to defend right in the final third in order to assert Arsenal’s control on the game.
Was involved in the build up to Ramsey’s goal as well, and it goes without saying that Arsenal cannot afford to see the Chilean leave in the summer.
Danny Welbeck: 8/10
Just like the entire Arsenal team, Welbeck’s performance was full of energy as he worked his socks off to stretch the Chelsea defence by regularly getting in behind the defenders. Was unlucky to not be on the scoresheet as his header struck the post, but his directness was a big asset for Arsene Wenger’s side.