Arsenal Vs Chelsea: Recap, highlights and analysis

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 27: Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal celebrates after he scores to make it 1-0 during the Emirates FA Cup Final match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 27: Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal celebrates after he scores to make it 1-0 during the Emirates FA Cup Final match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images) /

Arsenal took on Chelsea in the FA Cup final on Saturday evening. Here is the full recap, all the highlights and analysis from the 2-1 win.

What a win! Questions abound. Doubts engulfed. Uncertainty entangled. And yet, Arsenal were magnificent. Dominating in midfield, fluid in the final third and resolute in defence, Arsene Wenger’s side were phenomenal. They patrolled the pitch with great assurance and confidence, keeping Chelsea at arm’s length. They were vicious on the attack, determined with the ball and fantastic throughout.

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Arsenal started the game in an excellent manner. They calmly moved the ball from side to side, with Granit Xhaka orchestrating proceedings from a deep-lying midfield role, waited patiently for their opening before grasping it with eager arms.

Alexis Sanchez, the eventual goalscorer, darted inside, tried to dink a pass into Aaron Ramsey, challenged for the resultant 50:50 with the ball squirming into the box. Ramsey, having made the run in behind the Chelsea defence, was at this point offside and started towards the loose ball. Sanchez, though, who had continued running after winning the initial challenge, ordered Ramsey to leave the ball before smashing the shot past Thibault Courtois.

Initially, the assistant had flagged for offside against Ramsey, but after prolonged discussions with Anthony Taylor, the goal was eventually given. Chelsea had arguments regarding a possible handball from Sanchez as he jumped for the ball and controversy and confusion reigned, but as the dust settled, it was the perfect start for the Gunners.

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And the goal inspired confidence in the Arsenal side. In their two free-roaming roles, Mesut Ozil and Sanchez were masterful, finding the ball in between the Chelsea lines to great effect, Granit Xhaka continued to dictate play well from deep while Aaron Ramsey was his ever-busy self, buzzing around the park, linking up play, creating angles with his movement off the ball.

Ozil had a great chance down the right channel when released by a patient Sanchez, but his first touch took him a little wide and the dinked shot over the onrushing Courtois was excellently flicked clear on the line by Gary Cahill. Marcos Alonso was then forced into action, sliding in on Danny Welbeck after Ozil slid a cute pass down the channel, before the post was struck by a Welbeck header from the resultant corner with Aaron Ramsey unable turn home to awkwardly bounced ball.

But for all of Arsenal’s dominance, there were cautionary moments. Eden Hazard looked smooth on the ball, sliding it past defenders with his slithery, low centre of gravity, Diego Costa had an acrobatic effort, after out-muscling Rob Holding from a long ball, brilliantly blocked by David Ospina, who was hurt in the process, and they did engineer opportunities on the break that were wasted with a loose touch or untimed final pass.

Chances were still flowing for Arsenal, though, and as they continued to squander them, nerves began to brew with just a slender one-goal lead in a breathlessly open encounter. Danny Welbeck played a lovely one-two with Hector Bellerin to get in behind, before bundling it past Courtois from a tight angle, only for Cahill to again brilliantly clear off the line with a sliding tackle. Sanchez then had a chance after being released down the wide right channel, but with Welbeck slipping over in space, he was forced to shoot from a tight angle which was comfortably blocked by Cahill. But for however many openings were created, Arsenal entered the break with just a one-goal lead and much uncertainty ahead.

Immediately, there was a different feel to the game in the second half. Chelsea dominated possession for the opening few stanzas, Pedro caused problems, spinning away from defenders and driving at the back three, and Arsenal were unable to relieve pressure by holding the ball up in attacking areas. Ospina was forced into action on two occasions, collecting N’Golo Kante’s deflected shot from range, and then parrying Victor Moses’ strike from an angle.

Arsenal, though, were able to weather the storm. While Pedro whipped a shot just wide and Costa continued to try and bully his way to goal, openings continued to present themselves at the other end. Azpilicueta wonderfully deflected Bellerin’s square cross into Courtois’ arms, Ozil was inches from finding Welbeck with a swerved, outside of the foot pass, and Bellerin has a shot well saved, down low to Courtois’ left after a dynamic move down the left-hand side between Ramsey and Welbeck released the latter down the wide channel.

And then the final swung Arsenal’s way with a little over 20 minutes to play. With Victor Moses bursting inside past Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, in a spate of desperation, he hurled himself to the floor, with little to no contact, before seeing the yellow card hanging over his head, his second of the game, succumbing him to a humiliating early bath.

It was at this point that an entertaining game entered a new stratosphere of drama. First, Arsenal press for the seeming game-ending second, with Welbeck, Ramsey and Ozil all coming close. Then, Chelsea equaliser. And then, before the celebrations have died down, Aaron Ramsey smashes home to restore Arsenal’s lead.

The equaliser came through the only man it was ever going to: Diego Costa. Neat passing between Hazard and Cesc Fabregas, who did bring a little calm to proceedings when he came on for Nemanja Matic, provided space for Willian to cross. The Brazilian found Costa’s chest with a clipped pass into the penalty area. Costa brought it down, and, via the help of a deflection off of Per Mertesacker, squirmed a shot past David Ospina who should have planted a stronger hand on the ball to parry it past the post.

Aaron Ramsey’s goal came just moments after Chelsea’s equaliser. Alexis Sanchez fed Olivier Giroud, who came on for Danny Welbeck just seconds earlier, and with his first touch on the pitch, clipped a hopeful ball into the box, wishfully dreaming of someone gambling and making a run onto it. And as he has done so often in recent weeks, Ramsey was that man, planting the header past Courtois.

The game then opened up even more so. Costa had a shot well saved by Ospina, Oxlade-Chamberlain curled a shot over while Ozil, after so wonderfully and calmly cutting inside of Azpilicueta, struck the foot of the post in giving Courtois the eyes.

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Chelsea huffed and puffed as the game entered the closing stages, but Arsenal killed the tie well. They kept the ball when they needed, pressed when they needed and defended bravely. It was a wonderful, wonderful win for the Gunners, and brings the season to a celebratory and uplifting end.