LONDON — Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup final on Saturday at Wembley as the Gunners won the FA Cup for the third time in four years and a record-breaking 13th time.
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Here’s what we learned from an intense FA Cup final as Arsenal won their 13th FA Cup, becoming the most successful team in tournament history.
MERTESACKER A MAN MOUNTAIN
Per Mertesacker, Arsenal’s club captain, had not started a single game in the 2016-17 season.
His first start was in the FA Cup final at Wembley against Chelsea and the German defender (affectionately nicknamed the ‘Big F****** German’ or BFG by his adoring fan) stood tall, using one of his telescopic legs in the first half to deny Costa and throwing his body on the line to block shots and make vital interceptions.
Mertesacker was only throw into central defense because Laurent Koscielny was suspended and both Gabriel and Skhodran Mustafi were injured in the past week.
He was incredible in marshaling Arsenal’s backline and along with David Opsina kept Chelsea at bay before Ramsey grabbed the winner late on.
TAYLOR GETS HUGE DECISIONS CORRECT
“Did Arsenal get lucky?” is one of the main questions you will hear after this game.
They weren’t. Referee Anthony Taylor got the key decisions correct. The first goal was flagged for offside but he overruled his linesman to allow the goal to stand and although Aaron Ramsey was in an offside position, he wasn’t interfering with play, so that was the right call.
There may have been a handball by Sanchez in the build up but that was missed totally and the decision to overturn the offside flag was the correct one.
In the second half Victor Moses then clearly took a tumble to try and get a penalty kick as he received a second yellow card. No complaints and another brave, but good, call from Taylor.
Two key decisions went Arsenal’s way, but they were the right calls. Chelsea can not complain.
WASTEFUL CHELSEA BLOW DOUBLE
Diego Costa may well have played his last game for Chelsea as a move to the Chinese Super League beckons this summer. It sounds harsh, but Chelsea may not miss the Spanish international as much as everything thinks.
Although he scored to make it 1-1, Costa could have scored a hat trick. He took too long to get his shot off just after Arsenal went ahead as three Gunners defenders blocked his effort, and he then raced clear of Rob Holding but failed to get past David Ospina in another first half chance. He then drilled a shot straight at Ospina in the second half with Chelsea trailing 2-1.
It wasn’t just Costa who was guilty of missing chances though.
Pedro blazed over from a glorious position in the first half and in the second half he curled wide, while Victor Moses had an effort saved down low by Ospina.
Chelsea have come up short in attack in a few big games this season, including the 3-0 defeat at Arsenal, 2-0 defeats at Tottenham and Manchester United and now the FA Cup final when they scored just once.
Antonio Conte will be searching very quickly for the phone numbers of Alvaro Morata, Romelu Lukaku et al.