May 27, 2017 at 5.30pm UK at ​Wembley Stadium
Attendance: 89,472
Sanchez (5'), Ramsey (79')
Ramsey (9'), Holding (54'), Xhaka (81'), Coquelin (83')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Costa (76')
Moses (57'), Kante (59')
Moses (68')

Preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

Sports Mole previews the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium between Arsenal and Chelsea.

Arsenal head into the FA Cup final with Chelsea on the back of another poor season in the Premier League, but they will lift this trophy for the third time in four years if they can overcome their London rivals.

Chelsea are going for the domestic double after surging to the Premier League title, and there will be no loss of focus as they look to win the FA Cup for the first time since 2012.


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger during the Premier League match against Southampton on May 10, 2017© SilverHub

Despite ending their Premier League campaign with seven victories from eight matches ahead of another appearance in the FA Cup final, there is a lingering feeling at the Emirates Stadium that the uncertainty over Arsene Wenger and the ownership battle between Stan Kroenke and Alisher Usmnaov will only lead to the club falling behind their rivals.

It has reached such a stage where even a triumph over Chelsea will only represent light relief to a drawn-out situation rather than the jubilation which should go hand-in-hand with lifting one of the greatest trophies in the world, but given the injuries to their three first-choice centre-backs, a heavy defeat will only lead to more despair for their supporters.

Losing Laurent Koscielny to suspension came as a huge blow to their chances of causing an upset against the league champions, but the absence of Gabriel Paulista will also be felt by Wenger. Shkodran Mustafi still has a chance of featuring as he continues to recover from concussion, but Wenger may decide that it is a risk not worth taking.

That would leave Per Mertesacker to take his place alongside Rob Holding in defence and although it is not the worst combination on paper, the tall German has only played 37 minutes of football all season and while Chelsea's attack are in sublime form, he could get exposed. His selection is not a given but if Kieran Gibbs is out injured as well, it leaves Wenger with very little choice.

Further forward, his players are coming good at the right time. Alexis Sanchez continues to contribute on a game-by-game basis, but Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud have also shown that they still have parts to play in this Gunners side, despite the speculation regarding their future.

Arsenal have been afforded a mixed route to the final with tough ties against Southampton and Manchester City being cancelled out by successive matches against non-league Sutton United and Lincoln City, but while the importance of this competition is sometimes played down, there is no doubting that the result could be pivotal ahead of the decisions which need to be made in the coming days.

A win may lead to a few more supporters accepting that Wenger remaining in the dugout is not as bad as previously perceived, but a defeat - to coincide with a fifth-place finish in the top flight - will only increase hostility as fans grow more concerned about their future both on and off the pitch.

Recent form: WWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): LWWWWW


Chelsea manager Antonio Conte on the sidelines in the match against Burnley on February 12, 2017© SilverHub

Antonio Conte has used this year's competition has an opportunity to give some minutes to members of his squad who have been forced to remain on the sidelines for much of their league campaign, but expect a change of mindset when it comes to deciding on his starting lineup for the showdown at Wembley.

The Italian has shown that he can be sentimental - his use of John Terry in Chelsea's final two Premier League matches has shown that - but Conte is a leader who knows when the time is right to be ruthless and there are unlikely to be any alterations from the team he has selected for many of their victories throughout the season.

He still has a couple of selection dilemmas to contend with regarding the centre of his midfield and who features in his front three alongside Eden Hazard, but Conte is aware of the magnitude of achieving a domestic double in his first season in English football.

Arsenal will hope to throw a spanner in the works, despite their injury problems, but for Conte, it is about going out there and winning a football match with minimal fuss and given the number of goals they have scored from all areas of the pitch, is anyone going to back against them?

His suggestion that Arsenal are favourites for this match is pure kidology from a man who knows that he has a system in place which is as efficient as it is effective, and players at his disposal who are of better quality than their opponents in all areas of the pitch.

The form of Diego Costa will be of small concern to Conte with his top goalscorer having under-performed during the second half of the campaign, but he may have found a replacement in Michy Batshuayi who has scored four goals in his last 126 minutes on the pitch.

Whoever Conte opts for, he heads into this match in the knowledge that his team have scored 106 goals in 45 matches in all competitions since his arrival and he will be confident that his side can deliver more than that ratio of 2.35 goals per game during their final match before the summer.

Recent form: WWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWWW

Team News

Arsenal's Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina gestures during the English League Cup third round football match between Arsenal and Southampton at The Emirates Stadium in London on September 23, 2014© Getty Images

If reports are to be believed, Wenger will opt to start David Ospina in place of Petr Cech for the game at the national stadium.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is attempting to prove his fitness ahead of a potential start on one of the flanks, but Alexis Sanchez should be fit as he continues to carry a knock picked up against Stoke City earlier this month.

Wenger must decide between Giroud and Danny Welbeck for a place in attack alongside Ozil and Sanchez, while Mustafi will hold out hope of taking a place in the squad in the build-up to kickoff.

As well as having a decision to make between Costa and Batshuayi, Conte must also make a call regarding who starts in midfield between Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas.

Conte revealed at his pre-match press conference that he has no injury concerns ahead of the game.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Ospina, Holding, Mertesacker, Monreal, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso, Pedro, Hazard, Costa

Head To Head

Saturday's contest represents the 190th time in which these two teams have faced each other in a competitive contest, with Arsenal claiming 73 victories in comparison to 62 wins for Chelsea.

The Gunners do not possess a great record against the Blues over the past five years, but they have managed to win two of their last five matches, including victory in the Community Shield at Wembley in 2015.

The last game between the sides in the FA Cup came back in 2009, when a late goal from Didier Drogba earned Chelsea a 2-1 victory in the semi-finals.

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We say: Arsenal 1-4 Chelsea

With Arsenal depleted in defence and Chelsea at full strength, we can only back the West Londoners to finish the season in style. FA Cup finals are rarely so one-sided but despite Arsenal's run of victories in the Premier League, they could struggle to cope at the back.

Who will win Saturday's FA Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea?

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte on the sidelines in the match against Burnley on February 12, 2017
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Conte: 'Desire most important in FA Cup final'
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