The FA Cup reaches its summit clash and it’s a London debry at the iconic Wembley Stadium. Top two London football clubs, Chelsea and Arsenal, go head to head in English football season’s final match for a chance to add FA Cup silverware in their trophy cabinet. The final kicks off at 10:00 pm (IST).
The last time these two clubs met in a FA Cup final was in 2002 where Arsenal prevailed 2-0 over Chelsea with second half goals from Arsenal legend Freddie Ljungberg and Ray Parlour. Arsenal went on to win a double that season.
15 years down the memory lane, the tables have turned. Chelsea is aiming for double glory while Arsenal is looking to salvage some pride after a dismal season marred with “Wenger Out” criticism from a section of vociferous disappointed fans.
For this year’s Premier League champions Chelsea, it will be the eighth FA Cup title and they will join Tottenham Hotspur at second in the all time record of FA Cup winners. Whereas, if the Arsene Wenger led side emerge winners tonight, it will be a record 13th win which will etch their name in FA Cup history as the most successful English Club.
For Wenger too, this would be a personal milestone as the most successful manager with 7th title, surpassing Aston Villa’s manager George Ramsay’s record six FA Cup wins between 1887 and 1920.
After failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in two decades, this is Arsenal’s final opportunity for some redemption this season.
Though, Arsenal’s only chance of winning a trophy in the past two years will not be smooth ride with defenders Laurent Koscielny (suspended) and Gabriel Paulista (knee injury) out of the final. Per Mertesacker, who came off the bench last Sunday (against Everton) after an year long injury layoff, is likely to start in the final.
Not just a trophy but the future of manager Wenger and Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez is, perhaps, on the line in what could be a farewell match for both.
Looking at the current form, Arsenal and Chelsea have five and six wins, respectively in their last six premier league ties. Head to head the FA Cup finalists have shared the spoils this Premier League season with home wins for both teams.
Arsenal showed character in the final stretch of the Premier League to push their case for a Top four but it was not enough. The 2-1 semi final win against in-from Manchester City at Wembley Stadium last month has also raised hopes of the club for an inspired performance again. Perhaps, a win today would give the battered club and its fans some solace.
Arsenal currently shares the most FA Cup wins (12) record with Manchester United.