Saturday, 27 May 2017

FA Cup Final: Arsenal vs Chelsea Match Preview, Team News And Predicted Lineups

Arsene Wenger has won the FA Cup more than any other post-war manager, having led Arsenal to victory in 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2014 and 2015.
Arsenal vs Chelsea
2016/17 FA Cup Final
Date: 27th May 2017, Saturday.
Kick off at 17:30 Nigerian Time
Venue: Wembley Stadium.
Arsenal have endured a truly horrible campaign – a season that saw Wenger’s long-standing streak of top-four finishes being broken. The Gunners, though, can still end the campaign with a decent morale boost for the upcoming campaign, if they manage to beat Chelsea who are eyeing a double on Saturday.

The Blues were dominant in their Premier League triumph and could add another title to John Terry’s already glittering career, with the veteran set to depart in the summer.

Today is set to be an intense encounter – one which could possibly worsen the mood in the Arsenal camp ahead of a crucial summer of overhaul or on the other hand, could bring some cheer to the otherwise gloomy campaign for the Gunners.

TEAM NEWS:

Arsenal - They suffered a double blow in defence, with Laurent Koscielny suspended after his red card on the final day of the Premier League season and Gabriel injured. Shkodran Mustafi also faces a late fitness test after suffering concussion. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is fit again, but the injury problems at the back could force Arsene Wenger to change the successful three-at-the-back tactic which has served him so well in the Premier League run-in.

Gunners captain Per Mertesacker made his first appearance of the season on the final day of the English Premier League season against Everton, coming off the bench, and may be an option to join Rob Holding and Nacho Monreal in a three-man defence. Another option is Francis Coquelin, who trained as a centre-back in pre-season. Up front, Wenger must choose between Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck.

Chelsea - The English champions are at full-strength for the FA Cup final, but Antonio Conte still has a number of selection headaches to ponder. Gary Cahill is likely to return at centre-back in place of John Terry, after the Blues club captain marked his final EPL game with a planned 26th-minute substitution.

Further forward, however, Conte must decide between Nemanja Matic – who scored in the semi-final – and Cesc Fabregas, who has set up 12 goals this season, to partner N’Golo Kante in midfield. Willian took his tally to 12 goals for the season against Sunderland on the final day, but Pedro is likely to return on the right wing.

TEAMS FORMS

Arsenal - The Gunners finished the English Premier League season on a high, despite being unable to seal Champions League qualification, as they finished with five consecutive wins. A 3-1 win with ten men against Everton on the final day followed defeats of Sunderland, Stoke, Southampton and Manchester United, with the Gunners scoring 13 goals and conceding just two in that time.

Chelsea - Since a shock defeat to sixth-placed Manchester United, Chelsea have won seven games in a row – including the 4-2 defeat of Tottenham which earned them their FA Cup Final place. Having sealed the Premier League title with a 1-0 win at West Brom a fortnight ago, Chelsea finished the season by beating Watford 4-3 and then coming from behind to hammer bottom-club Sunderland 5-1 on the final day.

PREDICTED LINEUPS:

Arsenal (3-4-3): Cech, Holding, Mertesacker, Monreal; Bellerin, Gibbs, Ramsey, Xhaka; Ozil, Welbeck, Sanchez

Chelsea (3-4-3):  Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Luiz; Moses, Alonso, Matic, Kante; Pedro, Costa, Hazard

KEY STATS:
  • Antonio Conte is yet to win a domestic cup (except Super Cups) as a manager.
  • Arsene Wenger could become the most decorated manager in FA Cup history if Arsenal triumph on Saturday, overcoming George Ramsay, who he is tied with at 6 trophies each.
  • Chelsea are undefeated in their last four FA Cup finals that have taken place at the Wembley Stadium.
  • 4Arsenal and Chelsea have met each other in the FA Cup final only once before in their history, in the 2002 FA Cup final, where the Gunners emerged victorious.
  • In the two matches this season between the sides, at least one side has scored 3 goals.

PREDICTION:

Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea - Chelsea have been by far the better team over the course of the season, and if they carry that form into the cup final, they should be difficult to beat. But, I see the Gunners narrowly beating the Blues today.

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