An opportunity to win the second double in a decade escaped Chelsea in a classic FA Cup Final.
Chelsea started badly by conceding an early Alexis Sanchez goal. Despite a clear handball in the build up, and a strong suspicion of offside, the goal was given. If ever there was evidence that TV replays could be used this was it. It would have taken no longer to decide than the discussions that took place between the officials.
The goal jolted Chelsea but boosted Arsenal and seemed to influence the opening 45 minutes. Chelsea, in truth, were outplayed with several players simply not performing to their usual standards. Arsenal on the other hand put in a stunning half and could count themselves unlucky not be further ahead by the break.
In the second half, Chelsea improved and looked the better side in the opening exchanges. However, as the pressure mounted, Victor Moses was sent off for a second bookable offence. Having received his first yellow card for a needless foul, he took the strange decision to dive when in a promising position and left the referee with little choice.
Just when Chelsea’s chances appeared grim they rallied and grabbed an unlikely equaliser. Having been introduced after Moses’ sending off, Willian squeezed a cross into Costa who controlled the ball on his chest and finished beyond Ospina.
However, Chelsea’s celebrations were short lived. Just three minutes after equalising, Giroud found space down Chelsea’s right and crossed to an unmarked Ramsey to nod home. Chelsea’s marking and tracking of the run from midfield for the goal were inexplicable. It was a poor goal to concede and even worse timing- effectively stemming any momentum Chelsea had mustered from equalising.
Arsenal played out the rest of the game with Chelsea creating little other than a Costa chance which Ospina saved well. In truth, as Chelsea pushed forward, Arsenal could have extended their lead as they exploited the space playing against ten generated on the large Wembley pitch.
There is no doubt that the controversial early goal galvanised Arsenal, stunned Chelsea and changed the course of the game. However, being pragmatic, Arsenal deserved their victory. Whilst Chelsea didn’t turn up, a patched-up Arsenal side created the better chances, defended well and seemed quicker to the ball.
Despite the poor result, no gloss has been taken off Chelsea’s season who ended up as deserved league Champions. Hopefully revenge will be sweet at the Community Shield in August.
Contribution from Steve Greenwood