The 2016-17 club soccer season is just about over with in Europe, and the de facto end of it all in England comes at Wembley Stadium with the FA Cup. This year, two of the legitimate heavyweights of the sport, Arsenal and Chelsea will square off at England's most famous soccer stadium, and the winner will have a big piece of silverware to bring back to its club.
Chelsea though, already has some hardware this year. The Blues won 30 of their 38 matches in the Premier League, and that parlayed with three draws left them on 93 points, seven ahead of Tottenham.
The heroes of the season were the men at the back. Thibaut Courtois didn't have a heck of a lot to do over the course of the season, and that was thanks to the play of Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso, David Luiz and Gary Cahill. Only three of these four played at any given time for the most part, but whatever the combo was, it all seemed to work for the Blues. Rare was the match when the club gave up more than one goal, and there were a slew of clean sheets along the way.
Offensively, it was a particularly fine season for Diego Costa and Eden Hazard. These two men combined to score 36 goals, more than the entire teams for both Middlesbrough and Sunderland, both of whom were relegated.
Arsenal fought through a bunch of injuries this year, and a fifth place finish surely wasn't what the doctor ordered. It was a tough season in particular for Arsene Wenger. He's got basically the entirety of North London on his back at the moment for the fact that the Gunners flat out weren't all that good this season. Playing in the Europa League isn't going to sit well with Arsenal fans, but that's the fate that will befell it next season.
However, beating Chelsea would at least give a small bit of solace. The Gunners haven't won the FA Cup since 2015. An Arsenal victory would ultimately give it a record 13th FA Cup championship and a third in the last four seasons.
Arsenal allowed 44 goals in the Premier League this year, a fairly large number by the standards of a Wenger-coached team. Cech really started to show signs of age. The rest of this team though, started to take some real steps in the right direction.
Alexis Sanchez scored 24 goals in the regular season, but he wasn't nearly the only really good offensive threat. Olivier Giroud was down this season with just 12 goals, while Mesut Ozil had just eight out of the midfield. But both men are definitely dangerous, as is Theo Walcott, who ended with 10 strikes.
This could be a good day for the Ox as well. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely going to have a lot of suitors in the offseason, and this could be a showcase match for him. He's more of a defensive threat than an offensive one out of the Arsenal midfield, but he did score a couple goals during the Premier League campaign.
Chelsea is a -250 favorite to hoist the FA Cup on Saturday. The Blues have already survived a litany of tests, not the least of which was a semifinal affair with Tottenham here at Wembley Stadium. Arsenal had a relatively easy jaunt, one that included a pair of fifth division teams in Sutton United and Lincoln City. That said, the Gunners made it to the finale by taking care of Manchester City in extra time thanks to a Sanchez goal on 101 minutes.<
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