A Bitter Finale
By Gary Watton
May 27 2017
Just over fifty years since Chelsea succumbed by two goals to one in a Wembley FA Cup final to a north London neighbour, history more or less repeated itself, as the English champions fluffed their lines and deservedly lost a second FA Cup final to dastardly Arsenil. Peculiarly, the Blues have won all six FA Cup finals in the last twenty years against non-London opponents but have lost all three FA Cup finals that they have ever contested against London opposition, conceding twice each time. Even more freakish is the fact that Chelsea have not drawn any of their last thirty matches in London.
To be fair to the winners, they played the first twenty minutes like they were Real Madrid whilst Chelsea played like Real Sociedad (under David Moyes). The reds could easily have been out of sight by half time, and although the Blues gradually grew into the contest, a second string Arsenil defence and goalkeeper excelled themselves, as they just about coped with Chelsea's eventual pressure, once the latter belatedly learned how to piece five or six passes together. In truth, if chances had been converted, a scoreline of about eight-five would have been realistic.
Unfortunately Chelsea's emphasis upon width was arguably their undoing, as Arsenil had little trouble in exercising precision passing through Chelsea's threadbare midfield. The overrated Kante was erratic, conceding a number of subtle fouls which resulted in an inevitable yellow card. Maybe some day he will commit one clever foul too many - which won't be clever at all. Kante was also at fault for the fateful opening goal when he failed to clear our lines, and his hash at launching a counter attack was severely punished about fifteen seconds later. On the other hand, Kante did make a few trademark interceptions, and without his sixth round strike, the league champions might not even have made the semi finals.
Meanwhile his partner, Mr Matic, was hopelessly ineffective. The Serb is fine when the opposition pack their defence, but when opponents play a pressing game and close him down, a beleaguered Matic is forced backwards, thereby limiting our attacking and indeed we were restricted for a while to long range punts from David Luiz to Costa. Long range passes are impressive when they work, but they are a quick way to lose the ball.
Certainly our defence was frequently all at sea, but then they received little initial protection from their midfield. Alonso wasn't the attacking threat that we had hoped, but he still acquitted himself well. However, his direct free kick just before half time that sailed well over the bar just about summed up Chelsea's hapless afternoon. Pedro was buzzing on the counter attack but he also was inaccurate when he fired boldly at goals, not working Ospina. Pedro, who was one of our better players, needs to learn from super Frank Lampard who drilled lots of shots along the ground and into the net. The Spanish ace, it seems, tends to want to fire his efforts into the roof of the net.
Elsewhere, Cahill was our standout defender, executing a remarkable goalsaving clearance and blocking another goalbound attempt. David Luiz regrettably wasted a valuable free kick when we were reduced to ten men. He tried to emulate Drogba in Munich with a near post header but didn't even force a save. Nevertheless the likeable Brazilian did create our eventual equaliser with some dogged persistence in a foray in midfield.
As for our goalscorer, Senor Costa, he was a handful throughout the match in what may well be his last outing for the club, and he was one of the few Chelsea players who did not deserve to be on the losing side. The same I'm afraid could not be said of Victor Moses. This makeshift right wing back struggled against Oxlade-Chamberlain, but Vic grew into the match and was beginning to exert some influence going forward when he stupidly got yellow carded twice. He can protest all he likes but his dive for a penalty was scandalous and actually unnecessary. We were starting at last to dominate and we didn't need Vic's blatant cheating. To make matters worse, their winner was created on the flank where he should have been patrolling. In my opinion, Victor Moses owes his team mates and the fans a massive apology.
This was a prime opportunity to clinch a rare double, and our failure is hard to take. If we can't cope with Arsenil, how do we expect to flourish in the Champions League next year?
Arsenal 2 CHELSEA 1; half time: 1-0
CHELSEA goal scorer: Costa
CHELSEA team: Courtois; Azpilicueta; Luis; Cahill; Alonso; Moses; Matic; Kante; Costa; Pedro; Hazard. Used substitutes: Fabregas; Willian; Batshuayi
CHELSEA leading scorers:
Costa twenty-two goals
Hazard seventeen goals (including two penalties)
Pedro fourteen goals
Willian twelve goals (including one penalty)
Batshuayi nine goals (including one penalty)
Cahill eight goals
Fabregas seven goals
Alonso six goals
Moses four goals
Chelsea's Spanish Armada quintet of Alonso, Azpilicueta, Costa, Fabregas, and Pedro finished the season with a stunning tally of fifty-one goals, while our Belgian duo of Batshuayi and Hazard weighed in with a highly satisfactory 26 goals between them.pqs: qs:
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