FA Cup Final: Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. Last Game for Ozil, Alexis, the Ox or Maybe the Manager. Can the Cup Final Save Arsenal’s Worst Season Under Wenger?

That all depends on your perspective, and, of course, we actually have to lift the trophy, no mean feat against a Chelsea side that won the league title at a canter and seem well poised for the domestic double.

We can trot out the statistics and perhaps history is on our side.  With a win–the club’s third in four seasons–Arsenal would once again edge ahead of Manchester United in the total tally.  Both clubs have won the FA Cup 12 times and this would be lucky number 13 for Arsenal.  Manager Arsene Wenger has lifted the trophy a record six times–alongside George Ramsey’s similar total–even if the Aston Villa manager won his six over 37 years, lifting it for a final time in 1920.  Wenger needed less than 20 years to win his half dozen.  Lucky number seven would see Wenger stand alone in that department.

Wenger, of course, manages in the modern era and the domestic cups are considered consolation prizes these days.  Over his tenure, as he delivered Champions League football with top-4 league finishes, the importance of the FA Cup has diminished.  Like it or not, the money and prestige of competing for the top European cup has become the bigger prize.  This season, for the first time since 1998, Arsenal are on the outside looking in.  75 points in the league is a very respectable return, but it wasn’t enough–especially as Chelsea turned in the highest winning total in over a decade, 93.   Stopping them from taking a domestic double would be very nice indeed, but would it be enough to save Wenger from the ire of disappointed Gooners?  Would it be enough to keep him and some of his best players from seeking greener pastures–and Champions League football–elsewhere?

These debates must go on hold until after we win the cup, hardly the easiest task despite a very nice run-in which saw Arsenal win eight of nine matches after switching to a three at the back formation, conceding just six goals over that stretch.  It was just such a switch from Chelsea’s first year manager, Antonio Conte–ironically, after an early season loss to Arsenal–that turned their season around in even more impressive fashion.  After the 3-nil defeat at the Emirates, Chelsea won their next 13 league matches to distance themselves from the chasing pack, the first six without conceding a goal.

It was a remarkable recovery and many players benefited from the change in formation.  With a spine of David Luiz–usually flanked by Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill–N’golo Kante and Nemanja Vidic in midfield and Diego Costa up front, several Chelsea speedsters, including Pedro, Victor Moses, Marcos Alonso and Eden Hazard flourished in the wider positions.  Conte’s rejigging, like Wenger’s later in the season, was expedient at first but then allowed for more expansive football with a measure of attacking verve.

In recent matches, Chelsea have conceded more goals (13 in their final ten matches) but they were still able to put the title to bed with a couple games left to play, turning their focus more towards how to celebrate the title.  It all culminated in the gaudy substitution of their team captain, John Terry, in the 26th minute of his last game for the club, to match his shirt number.  It was stomach turning stuff for Gooners who have had to endure his self-aggrandizing antics over a long and torturous career.  Memories of him crying over his missed penalty in the Champions league final or being knocked senseless by the foot of Abou Diaby in the league cup final are happier ones for most Arsenal supporters.  Repeating those sorts of scenes in this final–and emerging with the victory–would go a long way towards soothing many a long suffering soul wearing the red with white sleeves.

How can Arsenal do it?  In addition to facing a formidable Chelsea team–Terry will surely only get a bench seat–Wenger faces his own problems with few bodies available in central defense.  The FA has denied the appeal of Laurent Koscielny’s red card from the final league match of the season so the man who wore Arsenal’s arm band for most of the season is out.  Gabriel Paulista hurt his knee in that same match and cannot play.  Question marks also hang over Skhodran Mustafi and Kieran Gibbs.  The former missed the final league match due to illness which some are claiming was an aftereffect of a concussion.  Gibbs missed out with a thigh injury and neither were spotted in the final training session before this match.  Thigh issues have also affected Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who has missed three matches on the trot and Alexis Sanchez who has soldiered on–and scored four goals in those same three matches–but has been seen clutching at his own thigh on several occasions.  Given all these issues, team selection will be a headache for Wenger.

While some are suggesting that the defensive injuries might force a return to a four man back line, I don’t think Wenger will opt for it, especially if Mustafi cannot play.  Simply put, pairing young Rob Holding and our team captain, Per Mertesacker–having only played as a substitute in the final pair of matches after sitting out the entire rest of the season–while pushing the full-backs into their more expansive attacking and defending duties would put too much strain on the center two.  Instead, I believe it will be a back three of Holding, Mertesacker and Nacho Monreal with Hector Bellerin and Gibbs as our wingbacks.  Although David Ospina was our “cup-keeper” this season, Petr Cech started the last two FA cup matches so I believe Wenger will let Cech play against his former club.  Hopefully, such a set-up allows Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey room to move the ball in central midfield, along with Mesut Ozil and Alexis who will nominally start as wide attackers.  The only real question–in my mind at least–is who gets the call to lead the front line.  Olivier Giroud was the answer in the previous round against Manchester City although we looked far more effective when Danny Welbeck came on as a substitute.  Here then is my list of the team I believe Wenger will choose:

Cech

Holding–Mertesacker–Monreal

Bellerin–Xhaka–Ramsey–Gibbs

Ozil–Giroud–Alexis

Substitutes: Ospina, Coquelin, Elneny, Iwobi, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Welbeck

We should remember that–like in the semis–this is a match that could go 120 minutes so substitutes could play prominent roles and long stints.  If Gibbs cannot go, the Ox could switch sides and play as a left wing-back and offer support to Bellerin, Xhaka and Ramsey with their midfield and tracking back duties.  If we could stake ourselves to a lead, so too could players like Coquelin and Elneny off the bench.  If we need goals, Theo Walcott, Alex Iwobi and Welbeck (or Giroud if DW starts) might be the men for the job.

To me, this FA Cup feels different.  Maybe it’s because of the strength of the final four teams (four of the top five league finishers), maybe it’s because of the two finalists and the differing trajectories of their seasons.  Arsenal are clearly the underdogs here, their long-time and under-fire manager taking his beleaguered bunch into battle against a revived Chelsea with a younger and more exuberant (overbearingly so, at times) first season manager poised to take them even higher.  The romance of the cup is all about upsets, however, and Wenger and Arsenal’s–if they can pull it off–would be a shot of redemption the club sorely needs.

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace

 

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63 Responses to FA Cup Final: Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. Last Game for Ozil, Alexis, the Ox or Maybe the Manager. Can the Cup Final Save Arsenal’s Worst Season Under Wenger?

  1. 17highburyterrace says:

    A couple of things I left out of the preview…

    1st… Chelsea will likely start with a front three of Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Pedro, three players who use, er, gamesmanship–diving, talking shite and clever, usually unseen grabs–to win penalties and provoke retaliation… The ref is our favorite guy, Anthony Taylor…

    2nd… Reports are emerging that AW will be starting Ospina in goal… Hmmm…

    3rd… It’s been an honor (American Spelling) to get to write the match previews this season for this fine site even if it’s been tough at times given the difficulties on the pitch and for the club more generally. I know TA is a busy fellow right now and will be into the summer. It’s his site and he’s much needed here. Hopefully, he can get back to his labour (British spelling this time…) of love sooner than later…

    That is all… For now, of course… 😀

  2. retsub1 says:

    Nicely written 17ht hard to argue with your selections, although the little I have seen of him I Think Maitland Niles would do a decent job on the left.

    I have seen the reports on Ospina as well. I can only think it is either written down or as a result of a misguided sense of loyalty. Looks like a mistake to me. That said if it does get to penalties it might be a good thing that Cech is out. Also unlikely Ospina will pas to a blue shirt as Cech did to Fabregas.

    I am still annoyed about the fore arm smash on Bellerin that led to the first Chelsea goal at the Bridge (even more annoyed that no so called experts saw it). I saw it as one of the season defining moments and it re-iterates to me that if we are going to win this one we need to box clever.

    I will never condone diving, but I am not adverse to the odd sly kick/ elbow etc in order to wind Costa up. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see him sent for.an early bath.

    I don’t think I can ever remember Arsenal being such underdogs in a domestic match, which reflects the power of Chelsea and our hospitalised defence. Biggest worry that the BFG sticks a leg out and brings down three Chelsea forwards.

    If out team all pull together and take our chances we might just pull it off. One crumb of comfort is we are not playing Spurs tomorrow. I would be even more worried if we were.

    17HT many thanks for all your efforts on the pre match reports it is very much appreciated.

  3. 17highburyterrace says:

    Thanks Retsub…

    That was another bit I left out of the preview–the Bellerin concussion for that first goal… We played such shite afterwards, however, including the goal kick you mention… I can’t remember us giving them much of a game at the Bridge in a long while… That 5-3 scoreline was back in 2011… We should be prepared to score some goals tomorrow… Lots of movement between guys like Ozil, Alexis and Ramsey could be the key. The first two might like to put themselves in the shop window, with, you know, one last big leap (to get off the sinking ship?)…

    The concussion thing–and injuries in general–are parts of the game that need further reform or modernization, IMO… If a player is seriously injured by contact–whether or not it’s penalized by a foul–there should be a free sub. That being said, that goal should have been disallowed with Alonso receiving a card of one color or the other… I reject (completely) the notion that Arsenal (or any other team) are weaker than the rest because we’ve suffered a couple of concussions, as some of the more traditionalist pundits like to imply and probably will do if tomorrow if Mustafi doesn’t suit up…

  4. Goonereris says:

    Nice preview, 17ht. Unless, Cech is injured or Wenger feels he gets a dose of the jitters, when up against his old pals (won’t say so, necessarily), there’s absolutely no way Ospina starts tomorrow. Not even Wenger will get that sentimental.

    My real worry is with who starts in central defence, given the absences. How unlucky can one club be to have lost 2 defenders in one game, while one of them remained a doubt; then to be faced with the prospects of starting (for the first time this season) a captain who’s been injured for nearly all of the season? If we can, somehow, survive that problem, we should beat Chelsea for the cup. I feel when our boys are up for it, very few teams can live with them.

    I have a feeling the Ox may start (if we go for a back 3) over Bellerin. Alonso will not relish playing against the Ox, whereas, Bells may not have gotten over (memories of) that collision with him, which may give Alonso an advantage. If Giroud starts, then Alexis has to track back Moses, the way we used to know him, when his work rate was always praised. I would prefer Welbeck to start but expect Wenger to start Giroud, anyway.

    Do we go with 4 at the back to give Mertesacker a more central role, so as not to expose his lack of great pace tackling from the wings? Wenger does have some thinking to do and will have to earn his pay here.

  5. Goonereris says:

    The thing is, it will be poor planning to not have any centre back on the bench, in the event of injuries or a red card (God forbid!). No team will do that. That’s why it may be back to a back 4, for me; that way, we can say we have one of Holding or Mertesacker on the bench, with the other centre back starter in Monreal. Of course, if we have a problem with any of the centre backs (in a back 3) in the course of the game, we can always make the changes back to a ‘4’. But, it is just so unlikely we start without one defender on the bench. Maybe, there will be room for Debuchy or Jenkinson?

  6. Goonereris says:

    The Guardian is reporting injury to Petr Cech. Well, there it is. Ospina it is in goal, then.

  7. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey ‘Eris…

    Yeah, I tend to trust the Guardian…for front page news too… but maybe that’s getting too political… 😀

    Given all the issues and injuries (it sounds like Gibbs is out and Ox will start as the right wingback…) I’m less concerned with the BFG starting his first match in over a year. Three at the back probably suits nobody more than him and he can sag back to help protect Ospina from the high ball. Frankly, I think our set piece work (both ends) has been improving and it might be a way to nick a goal, esp, if big men like Per and Ollie are in the line-up… In the end, in open play, it’s probably gonna be a bit more of a 5-1-3-1 which also suits me fine. Lots of space, movement and interplay between Alexis, Ramsey and Ozil with Xhaka sending the occasional long ball over the top seems as good a way as any to try and get forward.

    Let’s face it, we’re big underdogs here. With all the injuries we should probably play to defend first but try to use our chances with the ball to get forward carefully and usually with only one wingback at a time. It will be interesting to see if either or both teams try to invite the other team forward hoping to spring on the break…

    Anyhow, despite the usual way Gooners think, I’m trying to go into this one with a nothing-to-lose attitude, which, perhaps, the boys should adopt as well…

  8. TotalArsenal says:

    Great match preview, Seventeenho. Cheers. The best domestic game of the season is of course the cup final and we are in it once again. That is class. I would be tempted to play your line up but play Xhaka deep instead of BFG and play Elneny next to Rambo in the double DM pivot.

  9. Pony Eye says:

    It’s almost like there are a thousand permutations and combinations possible. 4:2:3:1 or 3:4:3 or 4:3:3 or …….? Mert or not? Giroud or not? Ox or not? Ceck or not? Gibbs or not? …………?

    I worry about Chls attacking pace (Harzard, Costa, Pedro or Williams) now that we lost our fastest CD Kosh, our 2nd fastest Gabriel and probably also our 3rd fastest Musti. And our two CM are not famous for their pace.

    Mert is a brilliant reader of the game, but Chls forward strength comes more from individual brilliance and quickness. These negate that Mert’s strength and not being match fits combine to all but rule him out, IMO. That would also rule the 3-man defense out for lack of further personnel. Closest thing to a 3:4:3 which has served us so well would be a 4:3:3 with a dedicated DM (Coq), and our full backs playing more like wing backs.

    My preferred line up:

    —————Cech————–
    Bel—-Hold——-Monr——Gibbs
    —–Xhak—-Coq——-Ramb——
    —–Ozil——Welb——Alexis—–

    This 4:3:3 on the field would look more like a 2:1:4:2:1 ie

    ————–Cech————–
    ——–Hold——-Monr——-
    —————Coq————–
    Bel—-Xhak—-Ramb—-Gibbs
    ———-Ozil———-Alexi——–
    —————-Welb—————–

  10. Pony Eye says:

    Looking less likely that Cech would start.

  11. Pony Eye says:

    The more ball playing players Ozil has around him the better he plays, raising the team’s game. His back to form performances have largely been because of the presence of Xhaka, Rambo and Welbeck. Of course he has a special understanding with Alexis. If Walcott and Giroud together replace any two of the above, Ozil all but disappeares. This is why I prefer Welbz to Giroud in today’s striker role.

    Ozil does not thrive with too many specialists.

  12. Pony Eye says:

    Coquelin is an excellent ball winner. That’s the first definition of a CD. He has a high leap and good enough with his head. The only consideration why he might struggle as a CD is the awareness to play the flat back line for keeping opponents offside. Playing as a very deep DM takes care of that.

  13. Goonereris says:

    17ht: Given all the issues and injuries (it sounds like Gibbs is out and Ox will start as the right wingback…) .

    Did you mean Ox to start as LEFT wingback? I guess that’s a possibility as he is able to use both feet. The problem with BFG at the centre of a back 3 will be ‘balls over the top’ and how once those go beyond him, he is helpless to recover. Can he last 120 minutes if it comes to it? I wonder if Kristian Bielik could have done a job, if he’d been around. Well, it is what it is and we’ll just have to get on with it.

  14. Goonereris says:

    Oh, and Holding will need a lot of help with Hazard’s marauding runs and dribbles, or he will be bamboozled every time (this Ref will be looking for a chance to Card him if he pulls anything like what he did to Arnautovic, LOL). If Mustafi can be available, I will trust him to shackle Hazard while Holding plays from the left of Mertesacker. Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!!!

  15. allezkev says:

    17tino, it’s been very enjoyable reading your musings on our season, an interesting perspective from the Colonies, without all the invective we tend to get locally from frustrated domestic Gooner’s. Certainly lightens the mood.

    On today, it has a certain feeling of 2005 revisited and I’ll take a similar result amigos. The boys continually say how much they respect Arsene and although they have a funny way of showing it at times maybe today is going to be more Man City S/F than Liverpool (h)…
    Whatever the ramifications for our summer, today is all about that famous old cup, so come on you Gunners, let’s bring it on home…

  16. 17highburyterrace says:

    Thanks, Kev…

    Here are your teams… Welbeck gets the nod up front with Ox in for Gibbs on the left and, of course, the change at keeper. Interesting that Cech still makes the bench. Kinda makes you think he’s not actually injured…

    Arsenal: Ospina, Holding, Mertesacker, Monreal, Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez, Ozil, Welbeck.
    Subs: Lucas Perez, Giroud, Walcott, Iwobi, Cech, Coquelin, Elneny.

    Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso, Pedro, Costa, Hazard.
    Subs: Begovic, Fabregas, Zouma, Ake, Willian, Batshuayi, Terry.

    Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).

  17. Goonereris says:

    Teams are out. And Ospina does start with Cech, curiously so, on the bench. Mertesacker sits in the back 3 with Holding and Montreal flanking him; and the Ox must be the Left wingback then. Welbeck starts too.

  18. Goonereris says:

    There you go, 17ht has done the business. 😄

  19. Goonereris says:

    We cannot afford to have injuries or any mishap with our defenders or it will be a case of chopping and changing to plug the weaknesses that will ensue. In contrast, Chelsea have a bench with 3 defenders.

  20. TotalArsenal says:

    Excellent focus and determination. Proud of our boys.

  21. allezkev says:

    Missed a few chances, we need to be more clinical

  22. TotalArsenal says:

    With a bit more composure we could have been safe already. Feel we need the second goal soon

  23. TotalArsenal says:

    Agreed Kevski, but that is some team effort until now

  24. TotalArsenal says:

    Loving the BFG at the moment.

  25. allezkev says:

    Totaal our team have been absolutely fabulous…

    We should be 3-0 and Chelsea are too good a team not to have their periods of domination.
    It’s how we defend for the next 90 minutes because I don’t trust the referee and Chelsea have been lucky, so I am not relaxed.
    But being on edge is good 😃
    It makes you feel alive 😉

  26. allezkev says:

    45 minutes

  27. Goonereris says:

    Great team effort, from back to front. The Chelsea have looked surprised, if anything. The only thing missing is that 2nd goal. We could have been 3 up, if we took all the chances we’ve had. Even the commentary has that eerie feeling of wanting to see some sudden burst of “champions” from Chelsea but it’s been Arsenal, all the way.

    Ramsey should have gone with his head for that rebound off the post, from DW’s header. Maybe, Welbeck should have anticipated that shot by Ozil and been closer to prevent Cahill’s clearance. He could also have done with some luck at the other time he had a chance in on the keeper.

    How the ref hasn’t shown any Chelsea player a yellow card for the Azpi and Pedro fouls. A very long second half to come? Or, one we will want to never end? We’ll find out.

  28. TotalArsenal says:

    Bloody good game, Kevski. Being on edge is good indeed. 🌶🌶🌶

  29. TotalArsenal says:

    Careful now we don’t hand back the initiative to the Chavs

  30. TotalArsenal says:

    We need to push up again and pronto

  31. TotalArsenal says:

    Own goal by Cesc would just be great 😜😳

  32. TotalArsenal says:

    Proud of the boys pushing up again

  33. TotalArsenal says:

    Perez for Ox would add a bit more goal threat

  34. TotalArsenal says:

    Ohhhohohoo Moses dives and gets his second yellow. Bring on Perez and go for it

  35. TotalArsenal says:

    On the other hand Walcott could be a good sub now

  36. Goonereris says:

    I’ve got to hand it to the ref there. I never thought it was a dive and wouldn’t have expected the ref to give it, knowing Moses was on a yellow.

    Can we now play sensibly and just go on and win it?

  37. Goonereris says:

    What I would want is a way to have Ox run from the right where he seems a bit more comfortable. Anyway, there’s a game still to be won.

  38. Goonereris says:

    1-1! Costa!

    We just had one job…..

  39. allezkev says:

    There ya go, all them chances and we concede.

    I hope we ain’t looking at 2001 all over again?

  40. Goonereris says:

    Deflection off Per may have done in the keeper. Danny off for Giroud now. He did very well, Welbeck but should have scored a pair.

    And it’s 2-1! Ramsey.

  41. allezkev says:

    Get the f*ck in….

  42. Goonereris says:

    Giroud’ first touch is an assist for Ramsey’s header.

  43. 17highburyterrace says:

    Full time… Lovely…

  44. Goonereris says:

    Yessssssssssssss!

    Done it! Better team by far.

  45. allezkev says:

    I’ve just seen it and I still don’t believe it…

    Just goes to show what this team is capable of and how frustrating this season has been.
    But for now I am going to enjoy it…

  46. Goonereris says:

    Kev, you couldn’t have summed it up better. This team has so much more to offer, but a period of uncertainty and failure to recover from that CL loss to Bayern have done us in.

  47. allezkev says:

    Eris, there’s no way that our team should have finished below Liverpool and probably Man City, credit to Chelsea, over the season they were the best team and the Spuds were very good, but our squad is better than 5th.

    Alexis was superb and how fantastic was BFG, I just luv him, he is such an intelligent player and a great influence on his team mates.
    Holding is a wonderful player, a mixture of technique and ‘over my dead body’ bloodymindedness.
    .

  48. TotalArsenal says:

    Wow the boys played so well, finishing off the season on a high, If you win one of the two prices to be won between 20 teams in a season you have to be happy. Buy a couple of players and keep most of the current ones and then have a go again next season. The PL did not go our way and there are lessons to be learned but the BoD would be mad not to build further on the squad and the manager now.

  49. Goonereris says:

    TA, the PL may have been contested between 20 teams; the FA must be pretty much every professional football club in England, no? 😀

    Of course, I get your point. Also agree with Kev on BFG, Holding and Alexis. I will put Xhaka, Ramsey and Bellerin into that mix. Welbeck helped us to unsettle their defence early on but needs to be taught composure in front of goal. He really deserved to score today.

    Happy for the boys and the long suffering fans (those who wish the team well, of course). We’ve just put the EPL champions to the sword in a game they badly wanted to win.

  50. Pony Eye says:

    We’ve got a team in that squad.

  51. TotalArsenal says:

    Technically 100% correct Erismus 😉 But it has been a while since a non PL team won the FA cup.. 🙂

  52. allezkev says:

    Eris, I agree with you, Ramsey put on a display reminiscent of his best for Wales at the Euros, he was perpetual motion and he used the ball economically and intelligently, cutting out the flashy stuff, Xhaka dominated both Kante and Matic, no mean feat, he has really matured into the role at the heart of our midfield.
    I can now see what Total saw in him.

    Ballerin, Monreal, Welbeck, Ozil, I couldn’t fault any of them, they didn’t leave anything on the pitch, gave it their all and made us proud of them.

    For BFG to miss the entire season, play a cameo against Everton and then start in the finale of the season and play like he did says all you really need to know about him.
    I have never fully understood the criticism he sometimes generates from ‘Arsenal’ fans.
    You don’t win a 100 caps for Deutschland by being a bum.

    The club have to somehow convince Alexis and Ozil to stay.

  53. njk84sg says:

    The face on Alexis says it all.. he likes to win silverware.

    I will say to Kroenke tie Alexis and Ozil down.

    Everyone did their best and Ollie managed to put in a good position to set up the winner for Rambo.

    This is the Arsenal that we missed. On the day that Chelski cleared 3 off their goalline, we battled hard to keep them at bay, and that the ref was spot on for the Moses dive.

    I knew Chelski would at least make life difficult for us and pull one back, which they did after we failed to score a second goal.

  54. njk84sg says:

    The beauty of the 3-4-3 formation is the ability to have one player red carded and the team can still function without any massive holes appearing. What we did against Everton last week was turned against us this week.

    Luckily we didn’t concede a second, and kudos to every player, we did well to contain the midfield and played our game.

    Good to have won the FA cup.

    COYG!!!

  55. Goonereris says:

    Hahaha, TA.

    JK, curiously, that’s the second time Giroud has assisted Rambo for an FA cup winner. That’s special. Some have touted BFG as man of the match; not sure since defenders hardly get that accolade, but I agree he put in a shift like it meant a lot to him. Kudos to Wenger for placing such great trust in him.

    After Tuesday’s meeting of the board, we shall know a lot more about our summer and transfer plans.

  56. Shard says:

    TA.

    I’m not sure you’ll remember the conversation we had many months ago, but Wenger has just met my criteria to be anointed a saint 🙂

    So proud of the players and the manager. After all that has happened, and all that was said, we put on a fabulous performance and could have scored 5 against Chelsea. And that is despite so many injuries and suspensions.

    There’s great spirit in the team. We sometimes falter, but a little support in those moments would go along way. They did us proud today and I hope we can keep this team together, add the players we need, and hopefully the manager stays to guide us back to the top. Big decisions for the board in the coming days, but for now, we can just enjoy this fantastic, record breaking FA Cup win.

  57. Pony Eye says:

    No big decision Shard. It’s WENGER IN!

  58. Waldo says:

    Great performance from the Gunners. Our shape and the way we stretched the play both vertically and horizontally was spot on. While Ramsey got the winner and put in a great defensive performance in central midfield, Monreal was my man of the match. The number of occasions he won back possession, whether it be via a tackle or interception, was immense!

  59. njk84sg says:

    To be honest, the only time he has had bad games for us was when we was overplayed.

    Look at him yesterday. Although he was slow, he had a quicker reaction and that was what mattered.

    Being played in a 3 at the back formation meant that the defense is tighter, and everybody is able to close the gaps without being in a situation that leads to holes being opened.

    Look at how tight both teams were. Maybe we were tighter due to us playing in a familiar place, or maybe that the players are committed to winning the FA cup for a third time in 4 finals.

    Or that the Chavs were not 100% mentally?

  60. Waldo says:

    For me, the big difference in Monreal’s performance is recent weeks compared to earlier in the season as well as recent seasons is his deployment as a LCB rather than a LB or LWB. Since he joined Arsenal, Monreal has repeatedly demonstrated his defensive strength (i.e. tackles, interceptions, blocks and aerial duel). Offensively (i.e. accurate crosses and assists) he has largely struggled both in terms of the frequency and accuracy. He is just not well suited to the offensive side of the game.

    His deployment as a LCB pretty much eliminates the need for him to contribute offensively and allows him to showcase his defensive strengths.

    As Wenger said in his post match comments the 3:4:2:1 setup gets the best out of the individual qualities of the certain players. I think Monreal at LCB is a player that falls into that category.

  61. STEVE says:

    Yesterday’s FA cup final was one of arsenal’s best games this season. Everyone was excellent, including the manager. I think Per had his best game in an arsenal shirt, he looked so sharp, his positioning was the best.
    Also for Xhaka, he was tremendous, he was one of the best players on the pitch, he controlled the game very well. He is learning the league very well, and he gets better and better with each game he plays. My take on him is that he will be a much better player next season.
    Another player that really impressed me is Rob Holding, his discovery is the Best thing that happened to arsenal this season, he is a highly talented defender, Arsenal’s next koscielny, his focus, his positioning, his reading of the game is top notch, He needs to toughen up a bit more thou. He still has a lot to learn, but he is certainly heading towards the right direction.
    I must commend David Ospina, whenever he is called upon to do a job, he always delivers. By the way, am I the only one this season who rates him higher than Peter Cech, YES I mean it.

    Going over to next season, I will like arsenal to make some signings that will make us title contenders. I will like arsenal to sign these players, a strike, my options are Lukaku, Dembele of Celtic or Morata of Real Madrid, any of them will do.
    A midfielder, I will like us to sign Bakayoko from Monaco. Number wise, we currently have more than enough, but quality wise, we are lacking. If we sign Bakayoko, we can sell elneny. Adding Bakayoko will be a tremendous improvement to arsenal’s midfield, he is a complete midfielder, he is very athletic, strong, skillful, knows how to hold possession for his team, he is a very good tackler and he reads the game very well.
    Wilshere should also be brought back to the team and extend his contract.
    A central defender, my number one choice is Van Dijk of Southampton.

    Arsenal is also in talks with Eupen’s Henry Onyekuru, my opinion is, He is a super talent and will be a great addition to the club. I also heard that arsenal have agreed to sign Sead Kolasinac on a free transfer, currently at schalke 04, he will also be a very good addition to the squad. Thou monreal remains to me one of the most important players in the team.

    Of course, arsenal have release some players like, Per, Gibbs, elneny, Lucas.

    With all these in place and also wit the right attitude from the players and coaches, there is no way arsenal will not challenge for the league strongly.

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