Two giants of the English game go head to head this weekend for the FA Cup…
FA Cup Run
Arsenal had a relatively easy cup run this season. They faced Preston North End and Southampton in the third and fourth rounds. Then the Gunners dispatched non-league sides Sutton United and Lincoln City. Arsenal’s toughest opponents were Manchester City in the semi-final, a match that they won 2-1 in extra-time.
Chelsea had a more challenging cup run. The Blues beat League One Peterborough as well as Championship sides Brentford and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Their last two FA Cup matches have been against Premier League opposition. A narrow 1-0 win over Manchester United was followed by a thrilling 4-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-final.
Arsenal have something of a centre-back crisis. Laurent Koscielny will miss the final after picking up a straight red card on the final day of the season against Everton. An appeal was dismissed by the Football Association. Gabriel suffered knee-ligament damage in the win against Everton and has been ruled out for up to eight weeks.
Shkodran Mustafi is also a doubt after suffering a suspected concussion against Sunderland which ruled him out of the win against Everton. With three centre-backs unavailable, club captain Per Mertesacker could be Arsenal’s best option to partner Rob Holding. The only issue is that Mertesacker has only just returned from injury himself, coming on for the injured Gabriel in the 53rd minute of Arsenal’s final game of the Premier League season.
Chelsea have no new injury concerns with everyone fit for the final after their Premier League triumph.
Arsenal had a disappointing Premier League season after finishing 5th and missing out on a Champions League place for the first time in 20 years. The Gunners could become the first side to win the FA Cup 13 times. If they did triumph, Arsene Wenger would be the most successful manager in the FA Cup with seven victories in the competition.
Chelsea on the other hand have had an amazing season. The Blues could complete the Double in Antonio Conte’s first season in charge, something they have not done since 2010.
While Chelsea are obvious favourites to win, Arsenal have a very good record at Wembley. Having said that, I think Chelsea will have enough to beat Arsenal. Either way, it should be a memorable FA Cup Final. My prediction is Arsenal 2-3 Chelsea.