Here we go – the FA Cup final, we hold the record in both appearances (21) and victories (13) – Arsene Wenger holds the record of most victories by a manager (7).
Throughout my life I’ve listened to the finals on the radio (2) live at Wembley (6) and on TV (8) the other 4 were before my time. My personal excitement in the FA Cup has never waned and I used to travel as much as I could to see us play in the early rounds of the competition and it always amazed me at how much local excitement there was when we played in lower league cities. It is football at its best with top clubs always at the risk of being ousted by “Giant Killers”.
But here we are a third Arsenal v Chelsea FA Cup Final our first was in 2002 – who can possibly forget the goals from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg and a few days later we beat Manchester United to gain our second League and Cup double under Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal entered the competition in the third round and was drawn to play Watford of the First Division. They took the lead in the eighth minute, where good play by Nwankwo Kanu allowed Thierry Henry to round goalkeeper Alec Chamberlain and tap the ball into the empty goal. The lead was doubled two minutes later: Kanu again found Henry, who “unselfishly squared the ball to midfielder Freddie Ljungberg for another tap-in.” Gifton Noel-Williams moments later halved the scoreline, heading the ball in from a Gary Fisken cross. After squandering numerous chances to increase their lead, Arsenal added a late third and fourth goal from Kanu and Dennis Bergkamp, before Marcus Gayle scored what was a mere consolation for Watford in stoppage time.
Arsenal faced cup holders Liverpool at home in the following round. A solitary goal scored by Bergkamp in the 27th minute saw the home side progress in a match layered with controversy: Martin Keown, Bergkamp and Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher were all sent off in the space of ten minutes, the latter for hurling back a coin at the crowd. Against Gillingham in the fifth round, Arsenal twice had their lead cancelled out, before Tony Adams scored the winning goal of the match.
Arsenal played Newcastle United in the sixth round on 9 March 2002. It was the second meeting between both teams in a week, and in spite of Arsenal winning the first fixture and scoring the opener in the cup tie, Newcastle held them to a 1–1 draw. A replay was scheduled two weeks later at noon. Arsenal won by three goals to nil, but during the match lost Robert Pires to injury; he was ruled out for the remainder of the season with medial knee ligament damage. An own goal by Middlesbrough’s Gianluca Festa, from an Henry free-kick, was enough for Arsenal to win the semi-final.
The final was deadlocked and in the 67th minute Chelsea brought on Zola replacing Hasselbaink but the substitution did not have the desired effect as Arsenal went a goal ahead. Adams cleared the Chelsea danger and Wiltord’s reverse pass found Parlour with acres of space to manoeuvre. The midfielder advanced as the Chelsea defence backed off and looked up before curling the ball from 25 yards. His effort went over a diving Cudicini, into the top right-hand corner of the Chelsea goal.
Wenger made a defensive-minded change almost immediately, taking Bergkamp off for Edu. A clash between Henry and Terry in the 75th minute resulted in both players receiving a yellow card for unsporting behaviour. Winger Boudewijn Zenden replaced Melchiot a minute later; the attacking change altered Chelsea’s positioning. With 10 minutes of normal time remaining Arsenal extended their lead, when Ljungberg scored. A similarly executed goal to Parlour’s, the Swede ran forward, evaded the challenge of Terry before curling the ball past Cudicini from the edge of the penalty area. Ljungberg was serenaded by the Arsenal crowd, who chanted “We love you Freddie, ‘cos you’ve got red hair.” Chelsea struggled to find a response; Guðjohnsen’s foul on Parlour late on highlighted the team’s frustrations. Riley blew for full-time after normal and stoppage time. Once Arsenal received their medals, Adams was given the cup and he shared the honour of lifting it with Vieira, his stand-in captain.
Here is a look back:-
Next up we met in 2017 – the “Mertesacker Final”
Arsenal, as a Premier League team, started their campaign in the third round. In it, they were drawn away at Football League Championship Preston North End. At Deepdale, Arsenal won 2–1 with goals from Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud. In the Fourth Round, Arsenal drew fellow Premier League Southampton. At St Mary’s Stadium, Arsenal won 5–0 with two goals from Danny Welbeck and a hat-trick from Theo Walcott. In the Fifth Round, Arsenal were drawn against non-league National League Sutton United away. At Gander Green Lane, Arsenal won 2–0 with goals from Lucas Pérez and Walcott. The match was also noted for Sutton United’s reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw being investigated by The FA and Gambling Commission for eating a pie pitchside despite there being betting odds on him doing so. In the quarter-finals, Arsenal were drawn at home against National League Lincoln City. At the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal won 5–0 with goals from Walcott, Giroud, an own goal by Luke Waterfall, Alexis Sánchez and Ramsey. In the semi-final at neutral Wembley Stadium, Arsenal played against Premier League Manchester City and reached the final after a 2–1 win with goals from Nacho Monreal and Sánchez.
Despite what was expected to be a tight affair in the Final, Arsenal dominated the early proceedings and opened the scoring with a goal from Alexis Sánchez in the 4th minute, shooting past the advancing goalkeeper from six yards out with his right foot. The goal was initially flagged as offside due to Aaron Ramsey being in an offside position. After discussing with his linesman, referee Anthony Taylor overrode the decision and awarded Arsenal the goal due to Ramsey not attempting to play the ball. Sánchez also handled the ball in the lead up to the goal but this was not seen by the referee. Arsenal then hit the post twice from close range in the first half through Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck.
In the second half, Victor Moses received a second yellow card for diving in the penalty box in the 68th minute, leaving Chelsea with ten men. Chelsea equalised through Diego Costa in the 76th minute when he controlled the ball on his chest in the penalty area before shooting low to the left with his right foot. Three minutes later Aaron Ramsey scored for Arsenal by heading in an Olivier Giroud cross from the left from six yards out.
After producing an extraordinary man-of-the-match performance in the FA Cup final triumph for Arsenal, Per Mertesacker admitted that “everyone had written me off” after spending more than a year without making a start for his club.
The 32-year-old German has suffered a serious knee injury and has also been overlooked by manager Arsene Wenger but was called upon following a defensive crisis which ruled out Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel and Shkodran Mustafi for the final against Chelsea.
“Two weeks ago I was on holiday – I didn’t expect to play,” Mertesacker said. “Everyone trusted me and supported me throughout the season and the manager gave me the opportunity. Arguably he played the best game of his Arsenal career.
Now we have our third Final against Chelsea and my My wishes and Hopes are that we carry the Cup home and plat in Europe in 2020/21.
|Arsenal FA Cup Final Appearances|
|1||Cardiff C||0||1||Arsenal||1927||Wembley Stadium|
|4||Arsenal||1||0||Sheffield U||1936||Wembley Stadium|
|10||Arsenal||3||2||Man. United||1979||Wembley Stadium|
|11||West H||1||0||Arsenal||1980||Wembley Stadium|
|12||Arsenal||2||1||Sheffield W||1993||Wembley Stadium|
|17||Arsenal*||0||0||Man. United||2005||Millennium Stadium|
|18||Arsenal||3||2||Hull City||2014||New Wembley Stadium|
|19||Arsenal||4||0||Aston Villa||2015||New Wembley Stadium|
|20||Arsenal||2||1||Chelsea||2017||New Wembley Stadium|
|21||Arsenal||Chelsea||2020||New Wembley Stadium|
Message from TotalArsenal:
Today’s post is in honour of GN5’s sister, Gloria, who very sadly passed away last week at the age of 80. GN5 and his sister are originally from Highbury but both emigrated to Northern America and were very close till the end. The funeral will take place on the day of the FA Cup Final and let’s hope the boys will do both Gloria and GN5 proud. Gloria Concordia Crescit! R.I.P.