Chelsea seeks double, Arsenal looking for redemption
ABS-CBN Sports on May 26, 2017 10:06 PM
FILE - In this Sunday, May 21, 2017 file photo, Chelsea captain John Terry celebrates with manager Antonio Conte after they won the league, following the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge stadium in London. Antonio Conte acknowledges it's been a great first season with Chelsea, the new English Premier League champion. It could have a sweeter ending on Saturday, May 27 if they can take the FA Cup, too. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)
JUSTIN PALMER, Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — For Chelsea, it's a chance for a double. Arsenal is just looking for some redemption.
The London teams will meet Saturday in the FA Cup final, with Chelsea hoping to win its second league-cup double since 2010 and Arsenal wanting to make up for missing out on the Champions League with a season-ending trophy at Wembley Stadium.
"It has been a great season," Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said. "To be a fantastic season we have to win the FA Cup."
Chelsea, which will be making its seventh FA Cup final appearance since 2000, is favored to win the trophy for the eighth time. But a win for Arsenal would set a record for the club and manager Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal has won the title 12 times, the same as Manchester United. Wenger has been at the helm for six of those triumphs and one more would see the Frenchman on his own with seven wins, surpassing the six won by Aston Villa manager George Ramsay between 1887 and 1920.
It could also be Wenger's farewell. He is expected to announce soon whether he will stay on for next season.
Wenger has faced criticism after a season in which the team finished outside the top four of the Premier League for the first time in 20 years.
In keeping with brushing off questions about his future, Wenger said his only focus was Saturday's final.
"What I want is to win the next game," Wenger said. "I love to win and I want to do well for my club. I want to win the cup for my club and that's all I care about. It's not about me, it's about us winning the trophy and giving absolutely everything to achieve it."
HOLDING THE FORT
Arsenal's defensive crisis has given Wenger a major selection headache.
The absence of suspended central defender Laurent Koscielny is a huge blow. Gabriel is injured and Shkodran Mustafi is a doubt.
"It's absolutely unbelievable and unpredictable, and we have been hit hard in a position where we will need to be strong on Saturday," Wenger said. "We'll have to find solutions and hopefully I will find the good solutions."
Wenger is likely to use 21-year-old Rob Holding, who has made a good impression in his first season since signing from Bolton last year.
Everything looked rosy for Arsenal when it routed Chelsea 3-0 at the Emirates back in September, during a run of nine wins from 11 matches in all competitions.
Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil scored first-half goals. The way Arsenal tormented Chelsea's backline that day prompted Conte to make a season-defining tactical defensive switch, adjusting to three at the back in a move that proved to be the catalyst for its title challenge.
When the sides met again at Stamford Bridge in early February, Chelsea outplayed Arsenal to win 3-1, getting goals from Marcus Alonso, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas before the visitors netted a late consolation.
ANOTHER TERRY FAREWELL?
Long-serving Chelsea captain John Terry enjoyed an emotional farewell in his final home game last weekend, playing 26 minutes before being substituted in a contrived exit - 26 is his shirt number.
Conte must decide whether to give his 36-year-old center back another moment in the spotlight at Wembley after making more than 700 appearances in 19 years at the club.
Terry experienced his first FA Cup final as an unused substitute in Chelsea's win over Aston Villa in 2000. He has since won the trophy four times - 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
He is the only member of the 2012 team that beat Liverpool in the final still at the club.