Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup final on Saturday was an ending many did not expect, and one that more than a few Gunners supporters perhaps did not want to see. It is the North London side’s third title in the competition in the last four seasons.
Arsenal’s FA Cup Triumph Puts Unique Spin on an Uncommon Season
Manager Arsene Wenger has been under intense pressure seemingly throughout the entire campaign, with the scrutiny becoming stronger as poor results began occurring regularly. “Wenger Out” was quite the trend prior to the win at Wembley Stadium, and will definitely not disappear at any point soon.
But Le Professeur’s seventh FA Cup deserves to be celebrated, especially within the context of the match itself. Arsenal came into the contest and controlled play, with dominating attacking sequences overwhelming the Blues for long periods.
Alexis Sanchez (4’) gave the Gunners the early advantage, but that did not keep the squad in a defensive alignment. Flowing, attractive football was produced soon after for a 1-0 half-time lead. The second half would produce even greater viewing and drama.
Chelsea were reduced to ten men when Victor Moses received his second yellow card in the 68th minute, but both Wenger and Antonio Conte would make changes to their line-up that brought about immediate impact.
Willian played a key role in Diego Costa’s equaliser, while Olivier Giroud set up Aaron Ramsey’s winner.
Tactical decisions from both clubs brought the game to life, as the atmosphere at Wembley was at a fever pitch.
The end of an era in Europe
After 19 consecutive seasons in the UEFA Champions League, Arsenal’s fifth-place domestic finish will see them take part in the UEFA Europa League. While there is plenty of disappointment in this, Saturday offered a glimmer of what both the players and Arsene Wenger still have to offer.
There was fight and passion, and to lift yet another FA Cup title is not something that should be dismissed in any fashion. Perhaps the most interesting aspect will be if this cup final was enough to alter the toxic mood around the Emirates Stadium.
Consistency has been a trademark of Wenger’s time in charge at Arsenal, a part of the Champions League for almost two decades. However, his record in one of the world’s most prestigious domestic cup competitions simply should not be ignored.
A summer of intrigue
Now, an uncertain and unique time in the Gunners’ recent history begins to unfold. The celebrations following Saturday will eventually come to a halt, and it is difficult to say if the 2017-18 campaign will be one of major modifications.
Premier League clubs all around Arsene Wenger have evolved, and competition is at a fierce level. The FA Cup will quiet some supporters, but certainly not silence all of the critics and skeptics.
A truly special performance saw Arsenal secure another trophy this weekend, and it just may be enough to keep their manager in his position to work on leading them back up to the top of the league table next season.