By Toyin Akiode
Winning the Emirates FA Cup represent the last opportunity for Arsenal to console its teeming fans over another dismal season. A season that promised so much in October but fizzled out into a dismal outing that ended the London’s club long running consecutive appearances in the UEFA Champions League.
Fully confirmed, the Gunners will be plying their trade in strange European cities in the EUROPA league next season. No longer will they line up to the exhilarating theme music of the Champions League – at least for next season.
Arsenal’s route to the FA Cup finals is relatively smooth all things being considered except for the tough match at Wembley against Manchester City.
Prior to the encounter against Manchester City, Arsene Wenger had done a tactical switch featuring three men at the back and five in the middle of the pack. The two frontal men are to play off each other and interchange as the need arises.
This new tactical set-up produced two laborious wins and almost collapsed against a much better Citizens in the FA Cup semifinal. Had Sergio Aguero been more clinical in front; Arsenal won’t be here!
Arsenal have too much to contend with going into this match. There is the failure of not qualifying for the Champions League, Laurent Koscielny’s suspension and Gabriel Paulista’s suspension. Even talisman Alexis Sanchez is a doubt!
In contrast, Chelsea,still basking in the euphoria of an excellent campaign in which they set a new record of 30 wins in a seasonwill be looking forward to this FA Cup encounter to claim a ‘double’.
Antonio Conte has the full complement of his squad. Much more; they are the unquestionable Champions of England and the confidence level couldn’t be higher.
The odds are highly stacked against a far weaker Gunners who looked a bit too thin for this kind of decisive encounter. It will take a super human effort to win this match and Wenger may have to think outside the box to achieve that.
But, it is the Emirates FA Cup finals- Anything can happen!
Head to head
Arsene Wenger has a bit of history going for him in this competition. He has won five in six finals appearances and two in the last three years.
Could he weave a magic wand and upturn Chelsea’s apple cart?
Wenger and Conte have met twice in England. It is a win apiece and loss apiece for the gaffers. The Emirates FA Cup would catapult one over the other.
It is not arguable that Wenger will give an arm and a leg to win this in order to breathe easy when addressing the press on his future.
The only snag is that Chelsea are ruthless in finals and may not fancy a trade-off to being tagged ‘Double Champions’!
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