Old Rivals Meet at Wembley in the FA Cup Final
This season’s FA Cup Final will be an all-London affair, as Chelsea and Arsenal will meet at Wembley Stadium with both sides looking to cap off the season by winning the trophy.
Chelsea, having won the Premier League title, could add to their trophy haul this season by winning the FA Cup, giving manager Antonio Conte and the Blues a league and cup double in the Italian’s first season in charge.
Ironically, it was another Italian manager who achieved the same feat in his first season as Chelsea manager when Carlo Ancelotti guided Chelsea to the league title and the FA Cup back in 2009-2010.
For Arsenal, a win in the FA Cup final would give Arsenal their third FA Cup in the last four seasons and would give manager Arsene Wenger his seventh FA Cup title in charge of Arsenal, giving Wenger the record for most title wins in the competition’s history.
The recent history between these two clubs is quite notable. Until Arsenal defeated Chelsea 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium last September, the Gunners had failed to beat the Blues in the Premier League for almost six years.
However, prior to that victory in September, Arsenal had defeated Chelsea during that time span. Arsenal recorded a 1-0 victory over the Blues in the Community Shield prior to the 2015-2016 season.
That match saw Wenger defeat his nemesis Jose Mourinho for the first time, though Arsenal would go on to lose both matches to Chelsea in the league that season – one with Mourinho as Chelsea manager and one with interim manager Guus Hiddink in charge.
As for the match itself, it will be interesting to see how Arsene Wenger approaches this match tactically. After a 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace back in April, Wenger cast aside his trusted 4-2-3-1 and played a back three the following week against Middlesbrough.
Arsenal defeated Boro 2-1 on that day and have stuck with a back three, losing just once since the tactical switch.
While it has given a bit of solidity to the Arsenal defense, unfortunately, they will be facing the Premier League’s standard when it comes to playing a back three.
It was that 3-0 defeat at Arsenal back in September that prompted Antonio Conte’s switch to a back three, and his decision to switch set Chelsea off on a 13-match unbeaten run and just three defeats in the Premier League when playing their now-trademark 3-4-3.
When playing matching 3-4-3’s, tactically it’s all about how the teams match up man-for-man. With Wenger having played the formation in their last eight fixtures, his side will know what their jobs are in that system.
But to beat Chelsea in the final, they’ll have to win their individual matchups, and that will be tough against a Chelsea side that has looked like a well-drilled unit all season defensively and have the ability to catch you out on the counter attack very quickly if you commit too many men forward.
To win this match, Wenger might have to think outside the box in order to find a way to disrupt Chelsea’s pattern of play, as Jose Mourinho did when he lined up in a back five and sent Ander Herrera to man-mark Hazard out of the game.
If Wenger can’t find a solution to deal with the Chelsea counter attack and front three while also creating chances at the other end of the pitch, it could be a long afternoon and evening for the Gunners at Wembley.
Prediction: 2-0 Chelsea, you can look up Arsenal vs Chelsea betting odds at 888sport.