Victor Moses got his first marching order of the season Saturday as Arsenal secured a 2-1 win over Chelsea to be crowned the 2016/17 FA Cup champions at Wembley to deny the English Champions a targeted double.
Sanchez's 30th goal of the season put Arsenal ahead at the interval just five minutes into the game, as the North Londoners dominated the opening period with Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil both coming close to doubling their side's advantage.
Chelsea drew level after the break with a finely taken effort in the area by Diego Costa off his chest but the Gunners responded swiftly through Aaron Ramsey who nodded home Olivier Giroud's cut back to restore the lead and hand Arsenal their 13th FA Cup title -seven under Arsene Wenger.SETTING THE SCENE
Laurent Koscielny’s suspension was already an unwelcome headache, while Shkodran Mustafi’s failure to recover from illness posed further defensive issues. Throw Kieran Gibbs’ thigh strain into the mix, and it all added up to a problematic build-up for the Gunners. Per Mertesacker’s return for his first Arsenal start in 13 months was expected, while Nacho Monreal moved into the three-man backline alongside Rob Holding.
Wenger made a big call though, by drafting Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in at left-wing back – his seventh different position this season – for the injured Gibbs – and it was by no means the manager’s last. Another surprise came as David Ospina was preferred to Petr Cech in goal, while Danny Welbeck got the nod to start up front in place of Olivier Giroud as the Gunners went in search of a record 13th FA Cup.
Antonio Conte made three changes to the side which started last weekend’s final Premier League game against Sunderland, with Gary Cahill, Nemanja Matic and Pedro all restored to the starting line-up.
The three-man defensive unit which has served the Blues so well this season, made up of Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Cahill, is in place once again, while Matic partners N’Golo Kante in midfield. Diego Costa led the line for the Blues, with Pedro and Eden Hazard supplying the width. For his final match as a Chelsea player John Terry was named on a strong bench, which also included Cesc Fabregas and Willian.FIRST HALF
Right from the off, Arsnal snapped into tackles, passed the ball around slickly and seemed to catch Chelsea by surprise with their intensity. It bore all the hallmarks of that 3-0 win against Conte's men in September, when a first-half blitz blew Antonio Conte’s side away.
The Arsenal fans were already in raucous mood when the opening goal came in the fifth minute – sparking jubilant scenes from the red half of Wembley. It arrived in slightly strange circumstances as Alexis received the ball outside the area, and tried to lift the ball over the Chelsea defence to the onrushing Ramsey. But his pass was blocked, hitting the Chilean before spinning up over the backline. The offside Ramsey made sure not to touch the ball, and Alexis raced on to the ball before slotting it under Thibaut Courtois and into the bottom corner. The assistant referee immediately raised his flag, but after a brief consulatation referee Anthony Taylor allowed the goal to stand, to the delight of the vociferous Arsenal fans.
After the lead, the Gunners were determined to build on it and the sight of three Arsenal players throwing themselves in the way of a Diego Costa shot summed up the fierce commitment they were showing. This was vintage Arsenal – bright, sharp and determined to leave their mark on this grand occasion. Twice Arsenal came close to doubling their advantage as the Blues wobbled, the first seeing Alexis play Ozil into space in the area and while the German was able to lift his shot past Courtois, Gary Cahill cleared off the line.
The next was even closer, as Welbeck rose highest to meet a corner from the right and his glancing header struck the far post, before hitting Ramsey on the follow up before the ball went out. Still the Gunners came at Chelsea, with Welbeck again going close before the half-hour mark and Xhaka’s half volley testing Courtois from distance.SECOND HALF
A big response was expected from Chelsea, and it soon arrived - with David Ospina twice called into action in the opening exchanges, the first to hold a deflected N’Golo Kante shot and the second to brilliantly palm away Victor Moses’ stinging effort. But with Conte’s side pushing forward, it offered up chances on the counter and Arsenal soon had a good opportunity when Alexis played Bellerin through but his cross towards the onrushing Ramsey was cut out by Courtois.
Chelsea continued to push on though, and Pedro had the North Lononers hearts in their mouths when he received the ball on the edge of the area and curled a shot inches beyond the far post. The hour mark came and went with everything going to plan – although Arsenal were having to soak up more pressure than at any point in the first half. The Gunners may have been sitting deeper than before, but they remained a real attacking threat – spearheaded by the excellent Welbeck.
The Blues backline could not keep the effervescent England international quiet, and when their next chance came, it was no surprise that he was at the heart of it. Welbeck received the ball on the left, cut inside and waited for runners into the box. Ramsey duly obliged, but the pass was deflected into the path of Bellerin, whose first-time effort was well held by Courtois.Moses sent off
The next twist was only just around the corner though, as Moses cut into the box and went down under a challenge by Oxlade-Chamberlain. Penalty? No, the Chelsea man was booked – for the second time on the day – and received his marching orders. Just when it looked like it was going all Arsenal's way, Chelsea hit back to level matters through Costa. Arsenal could do nothing as the ball fell to the Spain international in the area and he prodded the ball into the bottom corner after chesting it down perfectly.
On came Giroud for Welbeck, and with his first run he raced on to a ball up the left and cut a superb ball back across goal from the byeline. Ramsey – famously the matchwinner in 2014 – was charging into the box and he sent a diving header into the bottom corner, right in front of the Arsenal fans.
Bellerin came within inches of adding a third with six minutes after bursting through the heart of the Blues defence, but his low shot whistled just wide. Ospina was called upon moments later to make a stunning save to deny Costa inside the area as the Premier League champions searched for an equaliser.
From the next attack, Ozil had the chance to win it after racing clean but agonisingly, his shot hit the post from eight yards out for the last action of the game as the whistle soon blew and Arsenal had won the FA Cup for a record 13th time.