Arsenal Versus Chelsea: End Of The Beginning


Three FA Cup finals in four years and a team so consistently excellent that finishing fifth is seen as a major disappointment. What a gloriously happy accident that my seven year old self should have chosen to support the side in the red shirts and white sleeves all those very many years ago. Was I seduced by Alan Hudson’s flowing locks? By Peter Osgood’s bushy grips? Not on your Nelly. Not while Bob Wilson gazed flint eyed from beneath his goalie’s cap, not while Frank McLintock strode the muddy pitches like a colossus, defining my callow concept of masculinity, and never for a moment would the brutish Ron Harris nor the agricultural David Webb inspire or seduce me while Charlie George flicked the lazy fringe from his eyes and strolled with a careless nonchalance from the pitch and into my dreams.

The strand which connects this ageing, aching old man to the bewildered, excited child is unbroken. Nothing else in my life has lasted as long nor enjoyed so many reinventions. The cup final morning in 1971 runs seamlessly forward through cruel uncaring time to this expectant May morning. It is a path littered with noble victories and bitter defeats. From George Armstrong through Alan Ball to Liam Brady the team evolved, my heroes changed faces, shirt numbers and positions but The Arsenal remained constant. From David O’ Leary to Tony Adams, David Rocastle to Anders Limpar, Dennis Bergkamp to Tomáš Rosický the thread has unspooled until here we are today licking our lips at the prospect of watching Mesut Özil and Aaron Ramsey on the Wembley turf in the most hallowed of our footballing traditions, the final of the FA Cup.

Am I really as excited as a seven year old? Is it even possible to compare this creaking wreck of a man with the fresh elasticity of an unspoiled boy? Only in this. Only on cup final morning. And no matter how the machinations of mega powerful international money men nor the spiteful insolence of the modern internet supporter try to force me from the game, I cannot conceive of a cup final morning which won’t matter to me – as long as Arsenal are on the ticket.

Today the ineffable powers which control the football fates have dealt us an unenviable hand. Losing players to injury, suspension and illness in the week before such a game and all of them from the same vital position on the pitch is a wicked doom to befall Arsène Wenger. The re-jigged formation which so altered our league form will now either need to be scrapped or placed into the hands of players unfamiliar with one another’s strengths and shortcomings. Players who will face the champions of England, a side in their pomp, playing with supreme confidence and who’s boundless riches have seen them assemble a collection of the world’s very best.

So can we approach the match with hope in our hearts? Dare we dream of victory? Of wresting back our record from Manchester United? I say emphatically yes. Whatever the shortcomings of our back five in terms of familiarity and match fitness they are still fine footballers. Not only that but the pointy end of our side is producing some of the most eye catching play we’ve seen in years. Aaron and Granit understand each other as well as they ever have, Mesut and Alexis are both at their peerless best right now and either Danny’s pace and guile or Larry’s strength and finishing can provide the perfect foil for both. With Theo and AOC waiting in the wings to provide blistering finishing pace to the game we have no reason to fear the outcome.

So to those of you at Wembley today I wish you may have a final to remember. A day to stitch to the tapestry of your supporting life. A cup final which reaches back to past glories just as it will stretch on into the future. I hope to be back from work in time to join the worldwide television audience. My thoughts will, however, be with my little nephew for whom this game marks the end of his first season supporting the Arsenal. I envy him that leap into the unknown, the foundations of nostalgia he lays today on which his life cheering the boys in red and white will be built.

It’s just another final for us old fogeys but for him this is the biggest match ever. The greatest moment in his supporting life. These years are, for him, the golden age. What a journey he has set out on, I pray it begins in harmony and with a victory.

About steww

bass guitar, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

270 comments on “Arsenal Versus Chelsea: End Of The Beginning

  1. seems 2 -1 is the de facto winning score line for cups across the various leagues… Celtic, Arsenal and now Juve have won 2 – 1

    Liked by 2 people

  2. PG
    TBF If I’d have one fa cup final in my career aid have sent off a Chelsea player

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Chelsea were lucky we didnt get more today!!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Is it my rould, What are you all having?

    Liked by 5 people

  5. A Wenger two year contract please George.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. And next years FAC ELP and the EL.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Wow.

    Watched that start in amazement, then rest of the game which was more even but also great; thinking after a while how whatever happened it was an excellent game of football, ruing how little that would mean to me if it happened to go again us, praying it wouldn’t.

    An amazing couple of hours.

    How you can’t feel respect for a manager who delivers such happiness once, let alone seven times, and the rest, is a mystery.

    Loved it

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Brady Rix Sunderland.
    Sanchez Giroud Ramsey.

    Magic moments..

    Liked by 2 people

  9. We should have scored six. That is what drove my blood pressure skywards and my stomach in a violent spin. How could we dominate and lose. Football I tell yah.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. GREAT WIN and so unlucky not to have won it by half time, in the end my heart was going like the clapers. Still wankers about trying to bring shame to our club even though our team, Manager and club has created history yet again. If you still try and push your agenda on a day like today you cant call yourself a supporter.
    Really pleased for the Deadwood Duo, Ramsey and Giroud who once again have won the Cup for ARSENAL.
    Have a great evening everyone GO GO GUNNERS!!!

    Liked by 4 people

  11. some very bitter, upset people out there, and I don’t mean Chelsea fans
    What a performance!

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I have been away and just got home, so I’ve no idea what happened other than the score. I am beside myself with joy that the good guys did it and that Aaron Ramsey is the FA Cup hero again.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. How lucky were Chelsea?
    That was a 6-3 game.
    Absolutely fantastic performance by the Arsenal.

    The tears rolled after the final whistle. Its been really difficult seeing AW go thru such a horrendous season.
    It felt so good seeing him happy, seeing him smile.
    Thank you Arsenal.
    Thank you
    Thank you.

    Liked by 6 people

  14. Tactics, defence, organisation, game plan, win against big teams, mental strength, substitutions, big games…..all the things we are told Wenger doesn’t do

    Liked by 5 people

  15. What a fantastic post Steww. Thank you

    The boys were excellent today, every man jack of them. Couldn’t be happier or more proud to be a Gooner.

    May I thank all the folk who make PA such a fine site to read (even if I don’t contribute much as I have my own site to run). You do a sterling job fighting the good fight in what has been a difficult season, but a season which ended with silverware.

    And how full is the Noisy Neighbours trophy cabinet? 😀 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  16. another great moment: Costa shots Ospina saves Monreal boots it to Mars. Monreal hugs Ospina furiously…

    Liked by 4 people

  17. I’m still shaking

    a mate says its the happy happy shakes

    anyway, wenger told bbc after the game that there is a board meeting on tuesday so things should become much clearer by Wednesday and that he wants to stay.

    Arsene Wenger we want you to stay

    Liked by 3 people

  18. never mind beating chelsea in the final, and man city in the semi final, arsenal lucky with the draw getting lincoln and sutton on the way, isn’t that how it works.

    fa cup worthless

    community shield is a proper trophy, after all jose said so.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. post match interview: Aaron Ramsey “our game plan was spot on”. Hold on I thought AFC dont have “game plans”…

    Liked by 4 people

  20. Boo2me: Superb article. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  21. What would life be without twats like Robbie and AFTV?

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I know player ratings are frowned up on here, but I’m doing them anyway

    Ospina – 8 – maybe could have done better on their goal, but brought off two or three vital saves

    Holding – 8.5 – his former manager neill lennon said before the game that Holding is the real deal, cool, calm and intelligent, and that he was a steal at £2M and makes the £55M for john stones laughable, and the boy showed that assessment was correct. I liked that he was good on the ball when he had time, but when needed he blasted it 60 yards downfield.
    Monreal – 8.5 – is he a better CB than LB, and he is a fine LB. Like Holding knew when to play it and when to lash it.
    Mertesacker – 9.5 – captain fantastic, fuck the only 37 minutes before today, and the captain for the day nonsense. He is a 100 cap German international, you don’t do that without being class. His first time ever in a 3 at the back, oh what a trick we have been missing all this time.

    Bellerin – 6.5 – not at his best, poor crossing, poor shooting, looked to be lacking in pace, but he kept at it, he got in great positions, and little of cfc attacks came down his side.
    Xhaka – 9 – “worst signing in BPL history”, just shows how idiotic the pundits are, especially the ex chelsea ones, cascarino and sutton. We have our new Arteta, just needs to keep this going and he will go down as one of our greats.
    Ramsey – 9.5 – what a player, everything I wrote about him in that article on here last year, or was it the year before, still stands, outstanding, has everything, and he and xhaka have recreated the arteta ramsey partnership. Just needs to stay fit. The one midfielder we have who gets in the box, gets ahead of the attackers, and his second FA Cup final winner, and to think that there are still many Arsenal fans who claim he is rubbish.
    Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6 – stuck at the task in an unfamiliar left wing back role, few difficult defensive moments, and him being right footed stunted his attacking play.

    Ozil – 9.5 – what a player, divided opinion my arse, anyone who can’t or refuses to see this mans class don’t deserve to see the beautiful game. What a pity he did not score with that shot that hit the post. Bet the media give him a low rating, as he does not turn up in the big games, isn’t that right, BBC said that today as they showed him scoring v Chelsea earlier in the season, so don’t expect them to change their tune.
    Alexis – 9.5 – scored the opener, played very well, split the cfc defense several times, and he and ozil running between the lines had them in all sorts of trouble. Kante didn’t know what to do or where to go.

    Welbeck – 7.5 – should have scored or at the very least assisted. worked like a man possessed, his running caused cfc loads of problems.

    Giroud – 7 – what an introduction, an assist for the winner right away, second cup final winner assist and for the same man too, him and Ramsey have had a great understanding all these years. Not bad for two donkeys.
    Coquelin – 6 – slotted in with ease.
    Elneny – n/a – not on long, but got involved right away, maybe should have took a shot in last few seconds

    Wenger – 10 – got the selections and tactics spot on, the positioning of Alexis and Ozil and the midfield partnership and play of Xhaka and Ramsey was the winning of this game, we totally dominated this game, apart from about 10 to 15 minutes at start of second half. Got his subs spot on too.
    We will seemingly know on Wednesday what his future is, but Arsene Wenger we want you to stay.

    Liked by 5 people

  23. Good job on your blog BigRaddy. Really a supporters blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Still in massive elated eurphoria, what a game that was! What a game! I bet when the Chelsea goal went many were think “oh no!” but up pops the Arsenal and its good night Chelsea! What a great moment that was.
    this season had some other great moments that should be forgotten like Girouds scorpion goal.


    Liked by 1 person

  25. gf60

    You really touched me with your post.
    Please accept my hug.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. question for the stat lads

    Ramsey has now scored two fa cup final winning goals, has any player done this before, also it was giroud assist for both winners, again has such a combo been done before

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Well goodnight everyone, its been brilliant and a really memorable day, and a pleasure to share in it with you all at PA.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. In my 49 years supporting Arsenal I have seen them win 20 Major trophies

    League – 6 – 1970–71, 1988–89, 1990–91, 1997–98, 2001–02, 2003–04
    FA Cup – 10 -1970–71, 1978–79, 1992–93, 1997–98, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2004–05, 2013–14, 2014–15, 2016–17
    League Cup – 2 -1986–87, 1992–93
    Cup Winners Cup – 1 – 1993–94
    Fairs Cup – 1 – 1969–70

    10 of of the 20 trophies have been won with Arsene Wenger as our manager, 3 leagues, and 7 FA Cups.
    Now why would I want Wenger out. Is it so we will win trophies.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. The finish to the season, the adaptation to the formation suggests a lot to look forward to, despite the uncertainties of the summer.
    We read there are boardroom politics, some wanting structural change, fair enough, change can be good, but my advice…for what it’s worth, hope they tread lightly with our best even manager, who incidently has won a few trophies recently
    This performance was gargantuan, this wasn’t just putting away some underdog when we had pretty much a full strength team, enjoyable and impressive as those were. Our makeshift defence over 90mins had to deal with one of the best players in the world, and another who is pretty good and ranks among the most cynical.
    Today has been amazing

    Liked by 6 people

  30. Wenger has now won a league title and an fa cup on spurs home grounds.

    Liked by 3 people

  31. eddy what of our community shield wins? lol

    and in other news Dortmund continues the 2 – 1 theme for cup wins this season


  32. 1886‏ @1886_blog 1h1 hour ago

    Just realized that Arsenal spoilt John Terry’s leaving party. Fucking spectacular, that.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Ramsey covered 14.4km today, a new record for a player in an FA Cup final.

    Liked by 5 people

  34. Yes, John Terry in his full kit lifting the trophy…..something worth missing ,was pleased Kos stayed in his suit

    Liked by 2 people

  35. just saw a few clips of the after game celebrations and it really was great seeing the subs and staff high five and hug other, and the embrace between wenger and bould was magic.

    best clip was Gabriel on one leg hopping around the pitch on his one good leg filming on his phone and the pure delight he displayed.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. ‘We won with special spirit, attitude’

    It has been one of the most difficult seasons of Arsène Wenger’s long reign at Arsenal – but it ended on a high as we lifted the Emirates FA Cup.

    It was the 13th time we have lifted the trophy in our history, and was the seventh time the boss has won it – making him the most successful manager in the competition’s history.

    Afterwards he spoke to the media, and this is what he said:

    on winning more FA Cups than any other manager…
    I am very proud because nobody has done it. It’s not easy. I’m especially proud of the way we won this time because we had to play against Manchester City in the semi-final here and then Chelsea here. You cannot get tougher. We had two outstanding performances so this cup was won with special spirit and special attitude.

    on how the team’s preparation differed for this game…
    I would say that if you look at our recent performances, we’ve won seven out of eight games in a very convincing way with great performances. If you look at us until December, we had gone 20 games unbeaten. This season, more than ever, has been hurt by some blips in March. I am convinced now, after looking back at the season, by the uncertainty of my future [affecting] the players.

    on whether winning the cup influences his decision on his future…
    No. It’s a positive trend but it would be a bit ridiculous that 20 years depend on one game and that the future of the club depends on one game. We’ll know more next week.

    on whether he thinks this is a perfect way to say farewell…
    There’s no perfect way. I just want to do well for this club. Apart from that, after that it’s down to the board members to decide if I’m the right man to take this club further, and for me to decide whether I am the right man to take this club further. That’s it. It’s not about popularity, it’s about competence.

    on whether he still believes he is the right manager…
    I do because you cannot manage for 35 years at the top level if you don’t believe you’re the right man to do the job.

    on whether he feels a sense of vindication…
    I am in a public job and I accept criticism and that people don’t agree with me. Once the game starts and you’re a fan, you stand behind the team. That’s what I did not accept during the season and that I have never accepted. I think this club has special values and we have shown that again today. All the rest is, for me, not acceptable. After the game, I accept that I’ve never had a word with any journalist in 20 years when they’ve criticised my opinions or my decisions. It’s the same with the fans. I can understand that. When the game starts, the game starts. When you’re a fan, you support your team. We played some games in a very hostile environment and I will never accept that.

    on whether this was a vision of how he would like his team to play…
    If you have followed our last two months, we have had outstanding performances. This team is moving forward, is united and the way that we play suits our players. The way we function gets the best out of the individual qualities of the players. We adapt but I said last week that this team has exceptional potential. If the club buys the right one or two players to strengthen, they will have a word to say next season.

    on whether he knows in his mind what he’s doing next season…
    I know in my mind. Let’s enjoy the win tonight and not worry about the future. Let’s be in the present.

    on serving the club…
    I try to serve this club with the same commitment and quality. The only thing I can say is that this season we’ve had some difficult moments. I’ve spent every moment of my season with full commitment and have refused to give up. That’s why maybe I’m more proud than usual today because the team and myself have refused to give up. When you can finish the job in a positive way, that’s [good].

    on whether he’s most proud of this win…
    Nobody gave us a chance. We have responded with attitude and class, and we have seen that today.

    on the backing of the club…
    I don’t think I can answer that question at the moment. For once I have kept my medal, so that means it’s a special night for me. For the rest, we’ll see what happens in the future. We have to accept what will happen. If I’m still here next season, I will have the same attitude in the press conferences.

    Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20170527/-we-won-with-special-spirit-attitude-#Vc1IcVa3SsLmS4GU.99

    Liked by 1 person

  37. also cech hugging Ospina!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Positively Arsenal‏ @Blackburngeorge 4m4 minutes ago

    Sounds to me like the board meeting is going to be a showdown. Arsene will go all in, and if they don’t back him 100% he will walk IMO

    inclined to agree with you george, if he stays it might very well mean anyone who has not backed him enough goes, some seem to think that the board meeting will see one of Wenger or Gazidis go. Anyway, the board meeting is Tuesday, and Wenger said things should be much clearer by Wednesday and we should all know the outcome of the meeting no later than this day week.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. TS I look on the community shield as nothing more than a pre season game, of course the media now call it a big trophy seeing as utd and jose have won it. Won’t be so important if we win it in august


  40. Ed, your quotes from Wenger…….despite one of his finest hours, after a season of adversity,he says he is not sure he has backing from the club, don’t want to put a downer on a very special day, but that part of the statement is telling….and a bit worrying. The Irish independant saying board members have been trying to oust him for several months, having said that, anything from the media is liable to be complete bollox.
    But, If this stuff is true, hope Stan backs his man, or at least they come to a sensible compromise, the comments Wenger made about a lack of respect has been widely seen as referring to WOB fans and the media, but personally, doubt if Wenger gives a flying about the WOB/media ….I wonder if his references to a lack of respect point much closer to home. We shall see, this one could run.
    I have, rightly, or wrongly been critical of Stan….but this week, he could be vital in keeping the man…..Stan, stand by your man…


  41. Mandy, come to think of it… that lack of respect comment may really have to do with some in the board…. though since he said 99% of the fans are great, the bad fans could also be included there somewhere.


  42. MC‏ @mediocentroEN 4h4 hours ago

    Ramsey by far the most abused player at the club yet he’s done more than any player since 2012. Haters hate and winners win.

    Liked by 2 people

  43. Just watched that AW press conference,his eyes tell me he’s going. Hope I’m wrong.


  44. well mandy I think the one thing Wenger is likely to be demanding from the board is that we keep Ozil and Alexis, new deals or not, ideally new deals, but no more nasri, cesc or rvp scenarios, no more selling our best players, as wenger said the other day, we are no longer cash strapped, we don’t need to sell.
    i would think that wenger is demanding we get deals with the two of them sorted, and that we sign the couple of players of high quality we need/want


  45. Nero‏ @XChefnero 3h3 hours ago

    A list of those struggling to ‘enjoy’ a 3rd FA cup in 4 years.
    That NoNewContract cunt (protestor)
    #COYGs #Arsenal

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Aaron Ramsey & Olivier Giroud are the only players to have played in all 8 of Arsenal’s wins at the new Wembley. Ramsey started every game.

    Liked by 3 people

  47. Arsenal’s first goal of the 2017 FA Cup: Aaron Ramsey vs. Preston

    Arsenal’s final goal of the 2017 FA Cup: Aaron Ramsey vs. Chelsea

    Liked by 3 people

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