Can Chelsea add the FA Cup to the Premier League title they lifted last weekend? After the party atmosphere against Sunderland at Stamford Bridge, this is going to be a very different occasion. This is the first time since 2007 that two of the top five have met in the final of this famous competition. The Blues won the cup that day, with Didier Drogba sealing the cup in the first final at the new Wembley. They’ve been regular visitors since, winning the competition four times in the last 10 years.
However, it’s been five years since they last won this competition, with Arsenal winning it in 2014 and 2015. Arsenal are also the joint leaders in the all-time FA Cup winners table with 12 and this will be their 20th final, more than any other side.
The Blues won the league and cup double for the first time in 2010 under Carlo Ancelotti, something they’re aiming to emulate here. Roberto Di Matteo won this competition alongside the Champions League in 2012 during his first campaign as manager. Will Conte be the latest Italian boss to lift two trophies in his debut season in charge? To do so he has to see off one of the most successful sides in FA Cup history. Can the Gunners move clear of Man United with their 13th FA Cup trophy on Saturday?
Team News: No early changes as Conte demands focus
Chelsea have no injury concerns this weekend, with Conte able to give his first choice players a run out against Sunderland. The Blues were heavily changed for their win against Watford, but they were basically at full strength during the game with the Black Cats. While they gave John Terry a guard of honour mid game on Sunday, Conte won’t stand for anything like that in such a huge game.
The Blues will need 100% focus on this massive occasion, so we expect the strongest possible line up here. Having claimed league success thanks to their consistency in selection, we expect that to continue when they head to Wembley.
Arsene Wenger has been forced in to switching to a 3-4-3 set up of late, after struggling for results. He decided to ape Conte’s formation, and so far it’s brought Arsenal positive results. We expect them to continue with that set up, despite their current defensive problems. The Gunners lost Gabriel and Laurent Koscielny in their win over Everton, which means they’re short of options in central defence. With three slots to fill, we could see both Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding starting at the back for Wenger, which would leave them potentially very open at the back.
The Gunners recently pushed themselves back in to the fight for the top four after a string of victories, thanks to their decision to move to a 3-4-3 set up. Arsenal won their FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City during that run, but they needed extra time in order to see off the Citizens. It’s been a tough year for the club, brought on by the uncertainly over Wenger’s future.
The Gunners have won their last five games coming into this match, but they were recently beaten 2-0 at Tottenham. Chelsea’s FA Cup semi-final opponents comfortably saw off the Gunners, sealing one of the most one sided north Lon derbies ever. That result pushed Arsenal even further from the top four, and now they’re facing the prospect of Europa League football next term, regardless of the result at Wembley.
Chelsea v Arsenal Head to Head
Chelsea’s two matches against Arsenal this term have been key. The 3-0 defeat might be the most important result of Conte’s tenure, as he switched to a 3-4-3 following that heavy loss, kicking off a great run of form. They won 3-1 in the return leg, easing to a victory thanks to their new approach. The Gunners managed to win the last meeting between these two at Wembley, in August 2015, but can the Blues claim revenge for that defeat with a victory this weekend?
- Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal, Feb 2017
- Arsenal 3-0 Chelsea, Sept 2016
- Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea, Jan 2016
- Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal, Sept 2015
- Arsenal 1-0 Chelsea, Aug 2015
- Over 1.5 Chelsea goals – 4/5 with Ladbrokes
- Chelsea -1 Asian Handicap – 52/35 with BetVictor
Chelsea are priced at 5/6 with Betfred to win the match, while they’re as short as 4/9 with Bet365 to lift the trophy. The draw, and extra time, is priced at 11/4 with Coral. Arsenal can be backed at 7/2 with Betfair, with the Gunners drifting out of contention according to the bookies. While the Blues are tempting at just below evens to claim the win, we think there is other bets here which represent much better value.
Chelsea come into this match facing an Arsenal defence which is down by two men. If Arsene Wenger persists with his new 3-4-3 set up, then he’s going to have a field a couple of below par players at the back. If he switches, they could be going back to the poor form they exhibited earlier in the season, during which Chelsea beat them 3-1. We think this Blues’ attack will get plenty of chances, and over 1.5 goals for the Blues looks like cracking value at 4/5 with Ladbrokes, especially when you consider how their last FA Cup clash at Wembley went.
With Chelsea likely to get chances, we’ve turned our focus to the defence. The likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil don’t tend to do much in big games like this, they were absent against a weak Manchester United side recently. The Blues have a solid backline which looks back to its best right now, and we can see that holding out. However, we aren’t going for the win to nil, as the -1 Asian Handicap looks better value. It’s priced at 52/35 with BetVictor for the Blues to win by two or more goals, with a refund should they only win by one.