Arsenal v Chelsea FA Cup Final player ratings
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It’s been a long hard season, one that will be remembered for fan unrest and a fifth place finish after as poor a run of league form in many a year. But this season will also be remembered for the glory of an incredibly brave Arsenal performance in the 2017 FA Cup Final that saw the Gunners pick up the trophy for a record 13th time in their long and illustrious history. Read on for Layth Yousif’s player ratings from Wembley...
DAVID OSPINA, 6.5: Should have done better with Diego Costa’s goal and looked as inconsistent as ever on what could be his last Arsenal appearance. Why did Arsene Wenger pick a player who is leaving over arguably his first choice keeper in Petr Cech – who was bitterly disappointed not to play against his old club – and pick up his first piece of silverware for the North London team?
ROB HOLDING, 8: Showed superb character in refusing to be bullied by Costa even if the West London warrior shook him off for the goal. Mature, calm and unflustered. Showed great positional awareness throughout. Equally as happy starting moves from the back as putting it into row Z. A centre half who will eclipse John Stones one day as England’s best ball playing centre half if he keeps up his progress. A year on from being relegated into the third tier with Bolton he wins the FA Cup with Arsenal. What a way to end the season for the Stone Roses-loving lad.
PER MERTESACKER, 10: Wenger made a point of singling the Big FA Cup Winning German out for praise in his post-match press conference saying he was an example to all young footballers. What a brave performance, and one that will go down in the annals of Arsenal history. How on earth did he play so well when he hadn’t played a football match for 392 days, and in the unfamiliar position of a back three. Captain, leader, legend.
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NACHO MONREAL, 7.5: Did well on the left side of the back three, although it could be argued his performances as left wing back helped give his team vital momentum coming into the final.
HECTOR BELLERIN, 8: This is the Bellerin we all know and love. Showed power, pace, purpose and athleticism in bolstering attacks. Nearly scored a late third. His disappointing performances – and haircuts – over the last few months have now been well and truly banished.
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AARON RAMSEY, 9: To come back from a career threatening injury and criticism from all and sundry to net the winner in not one but two FA Cup Finals is the stuff legends are made of. A real team player with huge reserves of spirit and character. Has written his name into Arsenal folklore not to mention giving the red and white half of North London an almighty hangover this Bank Holiday weekend.
GRANIT XHAKA, 8.5: Looked like a £35 million player at Wembley. Read the game superbly well and has learnt from his errors this season by timing his interception and tackles to perfection. His best performance in an Arsenal shirt.
ALEX OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN, 7: Perfectly suited to the wing back role which allows his pace, power and attacking instincts to flourish. Showed application in sticking to his defensive duties too. Not as effective in the final third as he had been recently but few will care about a minor gripe. Expect a huge season next term if he continues his progress in this role.
MESUT OZIL, 8: Finally shone on the big stage in a big game for Arsenal. And how. His determination in tracking back and winning the ball back when out of possession was epitomised on his crunching sliding tackle on Eden Hazard. When Ozil does that you know it is a truly special day.
DANNY WELBECK, 7: Not his best game but always worked hard in testing the Chelsea backline. Unlucky not to score when he hit the post but fully deserved his ovation on being replaced by Giroud.
ALEXIS SANCHEZ, 9.5: Whatever the livewire Chilean’s advisers are asking from the club to sign a new contract give it to them. Brave, tenacious, skilfull and full of running and character. When he plays well, Arsenal normally win. Opening goal took his tally to 30 in all competitions from 51 games. The best Arsenal player since the 2004 Invincbles and 2006 Champions League finalists’ era.
ARSENE WENGER, 9: It’s been a long and fractious season but to lift the FA Cup for the seventh time deserves huge respect. Whether the silverware will drive him on to another contract or prompt him to walk away into the sunset remains to be seen later this week. But for one glorious Saturday at Wembley in the merry month of May all the bitterness was forgotten as Arsenal fans united behind their team – and manager – as their heroes delivered their best performance of the season to lift the FA Cup in heroic circumstances.
OLIVIER GIROUD (for Welbeck, 78), 9: Supersub. His drive down the left channel and perfect cross for Ramsey to stoop to head home underlines his value. Stuck on 98 Arsenal goals. Deserves the chance to make it 100 next season.
FRANCIS COQUELIN (for Oxlade-Chamberlain, 82), 8: Fresh legs in midfield helped shore up the game.
MOHAMED ELNENY (for Sanchez, 90), Deserved an eight for simply running the clock down.
THIBAUT COURTOIS, 8: Chelsea’s best player at Wembley and the best keeper in the Premier League. Shows how well Arsenal played that the Blues keeper nearly won man of the match. Important saves, imposing in the air, great reactions that come from superb positioning and excellent distribution. Once Juve’s Buffon eventually retires Courtois could and should become the best keeper in the world. Blameless for his side’s defeat.
CESAR AZPILICUETA, 5: This consistent footballer chose the FA Cup Final to give one of his worst performances in a Chelsea shirt. Continually caught cold by Sanchez with the Chilean no doubt appearing in his nightmares too.
DAVID LUIZ, 5: Mocked for returning to the Blues after his Paris soujorun but had the last laugh with a masterful season. Another whose season ended when Chelsea won the league. But with 30 league wins from 38 games who can blame him if his motivation levels weren’t as his for the cup final. Arsenal fans certainly didn’t, and nor did his manager – even if he was caught napping during Arsenal’s first.
GARY CAHILL, 7: Superb performance full of anticipation and full blooded committment including clearing the ball off the line twice in the first 45 minutes, but struggled with Ozil’s constant probing.
VICTOR MOSES, 3: Another rejuvenated Blue who has confounded many with his superb performances this season at wing back. But let his teammates down badly with a blatant dive to earn the shame of becoming the first player in the history of the FA Cup to be sent off in the showpiece Wembley final for diving.
N’GOLO KANTE, 4: An utterly superb player who has been the best player in the Premier League over the last two seasons. For Claude Makelele to say his former position as a crucial defensive shield should now be renamed the Kante is no higher praise. Unfortunately for Kante his performance oat Wembley was his worst showing in two years. Not that Arsenal fans will care as he also failed to track Ramsey for Arsenal’s late winner.
NEMANJA MATIC, 5: Was not as influential as he normally is as Xhaka and Ramsey bossed the midfielder. Subbed for Cesc Fabregas after the game passed him by for an hour.
MARCOS ALONSO, 5.5: Bellerin gave him a real chasing. Another who may have thought the season ended two weeks ago.
PEDRO, 7: Lively and always a danger especially when playing between the lines. But nowhere near as effective as he was during his side’s damaging 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge in February.
DIEGO COSTA, 7: Whatever you think about this grizzled, snarling Chelsea warrior he is one off those players every fan would love on their team. If this is to be his last game in England it was fitting he scored – even if Holding had the better of him over his 88 minutes on the pitch before being subbed for Batshuayi.
EDEN HAZARD, 6: World class and wonderful to watch on his day for his pace, flair and creativity. Unfortunately for Chelsea he reverted to the ineffective Hazard last seen during the 2015/16. Or was it more to do with Monreal’s superb marshalling on the day?
CESC FABREGAS (for Matic), 6: Booed by the massed ranks of the Arsenal choir not so much for playing in Blue on his return to London, more for his on-field involvement during fractious moments against his former team since. Prompted team into their best moments and will have been wounded not starting against the team that launched his career.
WILLIAN (for Pedro), 6: Set up Costa’s equaliser with a wonderful delivery.
MICHY BATSHUAYI (for Costa), 6: Played well recently but didn’t have enough time to make an impact as Conte played his last card.
ANTONIO CONTE, 8.5: Deserves ten of ten for winning the league but was eclipsed on the day by Wenger and his men. This likeable – and hugely talented manager – has lifted the reputation of his club again after the fractious debacle of last season. He moulded his side into the best team in the land and fully deserved his league title. Which made Arsenal’s FA Cup win over his team all the more enjoyable for the 30,000+ Gooners at Wembley.
Referee ANTHONY TAYLOR, 8: Refreshing to see an official seek the advice of a better played colleague in a huge match, Deserves credit for changing his mind and allowing Sanchez’s goal to stand. Says something when former Manchester United and West Ham defender Rio Ferdinand praises the ref for getting it right during an Arsenal v Chelsea match. Can only be aided by the advent of TV technology.