Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Chelsea sealed the club’s third FA Cup triumph in four seasons, but how does this victory at Wembley compare to the other two in recent years?
Ahead of kick-off, it was fair to say that Chelsea were heavily-fancied favourites to prevail in this encounter. After all, they had just won the Premier League title in convincing manner and despite a 3-0 defeat at the Emirates early in the season, Antonio Conte’s tactical switch made his team significantly harder to beat.
In comparison to the previous two finals against Hull City and Aston Villa, this was the only one that Arsenal were not expected to win. Rightly so too, after an unforgettable period of inconsistency and doubt clouded the club’s season from late January onwards.
Arsenal’s 2014 victory offered much-needed relief, having not won any silverware since the 2004/05 campaign. It was made particularly special after overturning a two-goal deficit inside the first ten minutes, with Aaron Ramsey’s extra-time strike proving the winner for Arsene Wenger’s side.
The season afterwards didn’t have the same buzz to it, perhaps given just how comfortable the scoreline was, as well as how the season had transpired.
Chelsea were again champions in that campaign and boasted a 12-point gap between themselves and the Gunners, who finished third.
Alexis Sánchez’s memorable strike from range was a special moment in itself, one of the best Cup final goals scored in quite some time:
With all of that in mind, you have to reflect on how this season’s progress has fallen dramatically below the club’s high standards whilst understanding the importance of a morale boost that the victory has given to both supporters and players.
Since the 3-0 away defeat by Crystal Palace on April 10, the Gunners have won nine and only conceded seven in ten matches (including FA Cup).
If only they could maintain this type of consistency when it really mattered then, huh?
Well, performances like the 2-1 win over Chelsea this past weekend will reinforce the belief that Arsenal can challenge their rivals next season, provided they strengthen the squad and retain key players such as Alexis and Mesut Özil.
Many will say that the Blues were poor for large periods but Arsenal were excellent from start-to-finish and even if you assumed they’d wobble after Diego Costa’s equaliser, they kept going with the same ruthless intensity which resulted in Aaron Ramsey equalising almost immediately.
This FA Cup win feels sweet based on the team’s collective performance.
Beating a rival is always a positive but the Premier League champions?