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Author Archive for BBC Sport - Football

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Barcelona: Ernesto Valverde set to replace Luis Enrique as coach of La Liga giants

Barcelona are expected to name former Athletic Bilbao boss Ernesto Valverde as their new head coach on Monday.Former Barca forward Valverde announced last week that he was leaving Athletic after four years in charge.The 53-year-old will replace Luis En…

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Barcelona: Ernesto Valverde set to replace Luis Enrique as coach of La Liga giants

Barcelona are expected to name former Athletic Bilbao boss Ernesto Valverde as their new head coach on Monday.Former Barca forward Valverde announced last week that he was leaving Athletic after four years in charge.The 53-year-old will replace Luis En…

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Ederson Moraes: Manchester City close to signing Brazilian goalkeeper from Benfica

Ederson

Manchester City are close to signing Benfica goalkeeper Ederson Moraes.

City manager Pep Guardiola has been interested in the Brazilian for some time and made room in his squad by releasing Willy Caballero on Friday.

After Sunday’s 2-1 Portuguese Cup final win against Vitoria Guimaraes, Ederson, 23, said he had “probably” played his last game for the club.

Guardiola is also understood to be interested in Monaco and France full-back Benjamin Mendy, 22.

After failing to win a trophy in his first season as City boss, Guardiola is planning big changes this summer.

The Spaniard made his first move of the summer with the £43m signing of Monaco’s Portuguese playmaker Bernardo Silva on Friday.

Caballero is one of five out-of-contract players already released by City.

Striker Kelechi Iheanacho has been the subject of a bid from West Ham and the futures of the four players that Guardiola allowed to leave the Etihad Stadium on loan last season – Joe Hart, Samir Nasri, Wilfried Bony and Eliaquim Mangala – is uncertain.

Ederson’s arrival will place more pressure on Claudio Bravo.

The Chilean had a torrid time after arriving from Barcelona to take over from Hart as City’s number one, but made a succession of mistakes before losing his place to Caballero in January.

Although the 34-year-old was recalled for the win against Hull on April 8, Bravo’s season ended just under three weeks later when he suffered a calf injury in the goalless draw with Manchester United.

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John Terry: Chelsea defender needs time to decide whether to continue playing

John Terry says he has not made up his mind whether to retire from playing and “needs a good week away to reflect” before making a decision.Defender Terry, 36, is leaving Chelsea this summer after more than two decades at Stamford Bridge.Swansea, West …

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Blackpool beat Exeter City in League Two play-off final

Mark Cullen and Brad Potts starred to help Blackpool return to League One at the first time of asking with victory over Exeter in the play-off final.With the game’s first attack, Potts found the the bottom corner after Cullen’s classy touch and flick.O…

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Hamilton retain Premiership status with win over Dundee United

Hamilton Academical retained their Scottish Premiership status thanks to Greg Docherty’s goal in Sunday’s play-off final against Dundee United.With the tie goalless after the first leg, hosts Hamilton were denied by a brilliant Paul Dixon clearance and…

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Title race swings as Chelsea hit seven past WSL 1 leaders Liverpool

Chelsea Ladies stunned Spring Series leaders Liverpool 7-0 while Manchester City lost to Arsenal on a pivotal day in the Women’s Super League title race.Chelsea’s WSL 1 hopes are in their own hands after Gilly Flaherty, Fran Kirby, Ji So-yun, Maren Mje…

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Cesc Fabregas: Chelsea midfielder disappointed to be left out of FA Cup starting XI

Cesc Fabregas feels he was unlucky to be left out of Chelsea’s starting XI for the FA Cup final defeat by his former side Arsenal on Saturday.The midfielder, 30, was on the bench before being brought on in the 61st minute as Chelsea lost 2-1 at Wembley…

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Cesc Fabregas: Chelsea midfielder disappointed to be left out of FA Cup starting XI

Cesc Fabregas feels he was unlucky to be left out of Chelsea’s starting XI for the FA Cup final defeat by his former side Arsenal on Saturday.The midfielder, 30, was on the bench before being brought on in the 61st minute as Chelsea lost 2-1 at Wembley…

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How Huddersfield & Reading gatecrashed £170m game

David Wagner and Jaap Stam
Sky Bet Championship play-off final: Huddersfield Town v Reading
Date: Monday, 29 May Kick-off: 15:00 BST Venue: Wembley Stadium
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Leeds & BBC Radio Berkshire; live text and radio commentary on the BBC Sport website and app from 11:00 BST

Saturday, 7 May 2016 is not a date that will hold particularly great memories for either Huddersfield or Reading.

The Terriers ended the 2015-16 Championship season in 19th place after a crushing 5-1 home defeat by Brentford, while the Royals lost 3-1 at Blackburn – their sixth defeat in seven matches – to finish 17th.

Just over a year on, it could scarcely be more different. The teams will meet in the play-off final at Wembley on Monday, in a match worth at least £170m to the winner.

How did they turn their fortunes around?

The bosses

Huddersfield Town – David Wagner

Media playback is not supported on this device

Terriers chairman Dean Hoyle was clearly delighted with his newest appointment when Wagner took charge in November 2015.

He told the club website: “David’s football philosophy is directly in line with ours; he fits for what we need. He will be head coach. He is the club’s first from outside the UK and Ireland and he brings a new approach and new ideas.”

Hoyle had grown weary of British managers delivering short-term results without a long-term plan and what he believed to be short change on his considerable investment into the club.

The former Borussia Dortmund II boss lost three of his first four matches, but Championship survival was attained while Wagner set about evolving every aspect of the way the team operated both on and off the field.

To the dismay of some players, he moved training sessions in line with when games started and asked the squad to meet for pre-match meals even for home games.

Wagner added 13 new players as he sought to build a side able to play the style of football he had had success with in Germany.

The results were miraculous. Town won eight of their first 11 league matches, finished in the Championship play-off places for the first time and are one win away from ending a 45-year absence from the top flight.

Reading – Jaap Stam

Media playback is not supported on this device

Following Brian McDermott’s rather low-key departure after a second spell in charge of the club that lasted just six months, Reading decided to go Dutch for his successor.

Former defender Stam was the man picked for his first full-time foray into management, having most famously been part of Manchester United’s treble-winning side of 1999.

“Reading are very ambitious, like I am, and want to get back to the Premier League,” he said in June 2016. “Hopefully we can have a good partnership and get there.”

His appointment was not initially warmly welcomed by everyone, as co-chairman Sir John Madejski revealed at Stam’s first news conference he had not been behind the decision to sack McDermott.

Stam gave a conservative estimate of how his side might fare in his first season. “There are teams in there who will make it hard to be in the top 10,” he said in pre-season. “You can’t expect us to end up in the top six.”

After winning only one of their first four league games, a few boos could be heard from the home fans as Reading, who have not been in the Premier League since 2013, bedded into Stam’s possession-based approach.

Fast forward nine months through a season of just two home defeats and the reality is beyond Stam’s and probably many supporters’ expectations.

“We never dreamed of getting to this game,” Stam told BBC Radio Berkshire. “But I’ve always had the belief in what I can do. It’s not just about me, it’s about my staff as a manager can’t do it on his own.

“I’m happy we’ve achieved this in the first season, but it’s going to build the expectation for next season as well. So we need to be realistic.

“Let’s enjoy it for now and work towards getting that result on Monday.”

The tactics

Jurgen Klopp and David Wagner<!–

Huddersfield

Much like great friend and former Borussia Dortmund colleague Jurgen Klopp, Wagner favours a high pressing 4-2-3-1 formation but it would be overly simplistic to say his team are just about gegenpressing.

Wagner puts a great deal of emphasis on quick transitions all around the pitch and there is a lot of onus on all players to put in performances high in both energy and tactical discipline.

The tireless work of the front four in both attacking and defensive situations is often at the expense of personal glory. Town’s top scorer this season is Elias Kachunga with 13 goals in 47 appearances.

However, it is this work-rate that often creates the platform for full-backs Chris Lowe and Tommy Smith to advance beyond the forwards and get behind opposition defences.

Wagner is not completely tied to his pressing philosophy and notably changed tactics for August’s trip to Newcastle. Huddersfield beat the Magpies 2-1, having spent the majority of the game sitting back and allowing the hosts to dominate possession.

Reading

Possession, possession, possession has defined Stam’s Reading this season. His side have averaged 57.4% in the Championship.

As already mentioned, the Dutchman’s philosophy has not appealed to everyone. It attracted critics after a 2-0 defeat by Leeds in December when, despite having 77% of the ball, the Royals registered just two shots on target.

Although Stam has not necessarily departed from the approach, there has been a sense of it being sacrificed in pursuit of getting results.

Yann Kermorgant has spent much of the season as a sole striker, but Lewis Grabban – on loan from Bournemouth – has partnered him in attack in recent matches to offer an additional outlet.

Even before the play-off semi-final against Fulham, pundits refused to back Reading’s chances of progressing. In both legs, Reading saw considerably less of the ball, but took their opportunities.

The key players

Huddersfield

Almost all of the 13 new players signed last summer have played a major part in Town’s success, as well as their two January additions.

Aaron Mooy, on loan from Manchester City, was included in the Championship’s team of the year after an outstanding season in midfield.

Key to the way Town break teams down are the overlapping runs made by full-backs Lowe and Smith, a player who has been reinvented by Wagner, and the duo have chipped in with 13 assists and six goals between them.

Perhaps most impressively given their achievements this season, Town’s record signing is the £1.8m they paid 1860 Munich for centre-half Christopher Schindler in June 2016.

For context, that fee made Schindler the 43rd most expensive signing in the Championship last summer.

Reading

The biggest success of Stam’s squad has undoubtedly been a player who was already at the club before his arrival. French striker Yann Kermorgant, at the age of 35, has weighed in with 19 goals.

Another consistent performer has been goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi. The former Wigan player was man of the match in the play-off semi-final second leg, pulling off a string of saves to deny Fulham an equaliser.

The Oman international was named player of the season for a second successive year in recognition of his 16 clean sheets.

Media playback is not supported on this device

John Swift, who joined last summer from Chelsea, has contributed eight league goals from midfield and was named EFL Young Player of the Month for January.

“The gameplan’s been the main thing this season, everyone working together to get a result,” said the 21-year-old.

“After the season, I think we’ll all look back on how well we’ve done. But it’s a huge game ahead of us and we can’t think too much about that.”

The game

Paul Ogden, Huddersfield Town commentator for BBC Radio Leeds:

I would use the two regular season meetings between the teams as a fairly solid indicator for how Monday’s game will go.

With both teams having won one apiece – and both by a margin of 1-0 – it would not surprise me remotely if this game were to go beyond the 90 minutes.

Neither team gives much away and neither defence is particularly vulnerable, so I could envisage a game that may not be the most exciting to the neutral.

Should we need extra time, there is no concern that Town’s high-energy approach could leave them at a disadvantage on what could be a hot May day at Wembley.

Wagner is a meticulous planner and, straight after beating Sheffield Wednesday, the players went to Portugal for a warm weather training camp.

Tim Dellor, Reading commentator for BBC Radio Berkshire:

Anyone who says they knows who will win this game is guessing – it’s far too tight to call. With only four points separating the two teams over the 46 games, the stats back that up.

The two teams have reached the most valuable game in football in a similar manner. Statistically, tactically, and managerially there is little difference, leaving us with the mental toughness of the players.

The team that best copes with the stress of the big occasion, the huge crowd and the enormous consequences of success or failure will inevitably be the ones playing in the Premier League next season.

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How Huddersfield & Reading gatecrashed £170m game

David Wagner and Jaap Stam
Sky Bet Championship play-off final: Huddersfield Town v Reading
Date: Monday, 29 May Kick-off: 15:00 BST Venue: Wembley Stadium
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Leeds & BBC Radio Berkshire; live text and radio commentary on the BBC Sport website and app from 11:00 BST

Saturday, 7 May 2016 is not a date that will hold particularly great memories for either Huddersfield or Reading.

The Terriers ended the 2015-16 Championship season in 19th place after a crushing 5-1 home defeat by Brentford, while the Royals lost 3-1 at Blackburn – their sixth defeat in seven matches – to finish 17th.

Just over a year on, it could scarcely be more different. The teams will meet in the play-off final at Wembley on Monday, in a match worth at least £170m to the winner.

How did they turn their fortunes around?

The bosses

Huddersfield Town – David Wagner

Media playback is not supported on this device

Terriers chairman Dean Hoyle was clearly delighted with his newest appointment when Wagner took charge in November 2015.

He told the club website: “David’s football philosophy is directly in line with ours; he fits for what we need. He will be head coach. He is the club’s first from outside the UK and Ireland and he brings a new approach and new ideas.”

Hoyle had grown weary of British managers delivering short-term results without a long-term plan and what he believed to be short change on his considerable investment into the club.

The former Borussia Dortmund II boss lost three of his first four matches, but Championship survival was attained while Wagner set about evolving every aspect of the way the team operated both on and off the field.

To the dismay of some players, he moved training sessions in line with when games started and asked the squad to meet for pre-match meals even for home games.

Wagner added 13 new players as he sought to build a side able to play the style of football he had had success with in Germany.

The results were miraculous. Town won eight of their first 11 league matches, finished in the Championship play-off places for the first time and are one win away from ending a 45-year absence from the top flight.

Reading – Jaap Stam

Media playback is not supported on this device

Following Brian McDermott’s rather low-key departure after a second spell in charge of the club that lasted just six months, Reading decided to go Dutch for his successor.

Former defender Stam was the man picked for his first full-time foray into management, having most famously been part of Manchester United’s treble-winning side of 1999.

“Reading are very ambitious, like I am, and want to get back to the Premier League,” he said in June 2016. “Hopefully we can have a good partnership and get there.”

His appointment was not initially warmly welcomed by everyone, as co-chairman Sir John Madejski revealed at Stam’s first news conference he had not been behind the decision to sack McDermott.

Stam gave a conservative estimate of how his side might fare in his first season. “There are teams in there who will make it hard to be in the top 10,” he said in pre-season. “You can’t expect us to end up in the top six.”

After winning only one of their first four league games, a few boos could be heard from the home fans as Reading, who have not been in the Premier League since 2013, bedded into Stam’s possession-based approach.

Fast forward nine months through a season of just two home defeats and the reality is beyond Stam’s and probably many supporters’ expectations.

“We never dreamed of getting to this game,” Stam told BBC Radio Berkshire. “But I’ve always had the belief in what I can do. It’s not just about me, it’s about my staff as a manager can’t do it on his own.

“I’m happy we’ve achieved this in the first season, but it’s going to build the expectation for next season as well. So we need to be realistic.

“Let’s enjoy it for now and work towards getting that result on Monday.”

The tactics

Jurgen Klopp and David Wagner<!–

Huddersfield

Much like great friend and former Borussia Dortmund colleague Jurgen Klopp, Wagner favours a high pressing 4-2-3-1 formation but it would be overly simplistic to say his team are just about gegenpressing.

Wagner puts a great deal of emphasis on quick transitions all around the pitch and there is a lot of onus on all players to put in performances high in both energy and tactical discipline.

The tireless work of the front four in both attacking and defensive situations is often at the expense of personal glory. Town’s top scorer this season is Elias Kachunga with 13 goals in 47 appearances.

However, it is this work-rate that often creates the platform for full-backs Chris Lowe and Tommy Smith to advance beyond the forwards and get behind opposition defences.

Wagner is not completely tied to his pressing philosophy and notably changed tactics for August’s trip to Newcastle. Huddersfield beat the Magpies 2-1, having spent the majority of the game sitting back and allowing the hosts to dominate possession.

Reading

Possession, possession, possession has defined Stam’s Reading this season. His side have averaged 57.4% in the Championship.

As already mentioned, the Dutchman’s philosophy has not appealed to everyone. It attracted critics after a 2-0 defeat by Leeds in December when, despite having 77% of the ball, the Royals registered just two shots on target.

Although Stam has not necessarily departed from the approach, there has been a sense of it being sacrificed in pursuit of getting results.

Yann Kermorgant has spent much of the season as a sole striker, but Lewis Grabban – on loan from Bournemouth – has partnered him in attack in recent matches to offer an additional outlet.

Even before the play-off semi-final against Fulham, pundits refused to back Reading’s chances of progressing. In both legs, Reading saw considerably less of the ball, but took their opportunities.

The key players

Huddersfield

Almost all of the 13 new players signed last summer have played a major part in Town’s success, as well as their two January additions.

Aaron Mooy, on loan from Manchester City, was included in the Championship’s team of the year after an outstanding season in midfield.

Key to the way Town break teams down are the overlapping runs made by full-backs Lowe and Smith, a player who has been reinvented by Wagner, and the duo have chipped in with 13 assists and six goals between them.

Perhaps most impressively given their achievements this season, Town’s record signing is the £1.8m they paid 1860 Munich for centre-half Christopher Schindler in June 2016.

For context, that fee made Schindler the 43rd most expensive signing in the Championship last summer.

Reading

The biggest success of Stam’s squad has undoubtedly been a player who was already at the club before his arrival. French striker Yann Kermorgant, at the age of 35, has weighed in with 19 goals.

Another consistent performer has been goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi. The former Wigan player was man of the match in the play-off semi-final second leg, pulling off a string of saves to deny Fulham an equaliser.

The Oman international was named player of the season for a second successive year in recognition of his 16 clean sheets.

Media playback is not supported on this device

John Swift, who joined last summer from Chelsea, has contributed eight league goals from midfield and was named EFL Young Player of the Month for January.

“The gameplan’s been the main thing this season, everyone working together to get a result,” said the 21-year-old.

“After the season, I think we’ll all look back on how well we’ve done. But it’s a huge game ahead of us and we can’t think too much about that.”

The game

Paul Ogden, Huddersfield Town commentator for BBC Radio Leeds:

I would use the two regular season meetings between the teams as a fairly solid indicator for how Monday’s game will go.

With both teams having won one apiece – and both by a margin of 1-0 – it would not surprise me remotely if this game were to go beyond the 90 minutes.

Neither team gives much away and neither defence is particularly vulnerable, so I could envisage a game that may not be the most exciting to the neutral.

Should we need extra time, there is no concern that Town’s high-energy approach could leave them at a disadvantage on what could be a hot May day at Wembley.

Wagner is a meticulous planner and, straight after beating Sheffield Wednesday, the players went to Portugal for a warm weather training camp.

Tim Dellor, Reading commentator for BBC Radio Berkshire:

Anyone who says they knows who will win this game is guessing – it’s far too tight to call. With only four points separating the two teams over the 46 games, the stats back that up.

The two teams have reached the most valuable game in football in a similar manner. Statistically, tactically, and managerially there is little difference, leaving us with the mental toughness of the players.

The team that best copes with the stress of the big occasion, the huge crowd and the enormous consequences of success or failure will inevitably be the ones playing in the Premier League next season.

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What lies ahead in a 'huge summer' for Arsenal and Wenger?

Media playback is not supported on this device

Arsene Wenger revealed his historic seventh FA Cup final success was so special he would be keeping his medal to remind him of the thrilling Wembley victory over Chelsea.

The 67-year-old Arsenal manager is clearly not sentimental about his keepsakes – but the sub-plots surrounding this unlikely 2-1 victory meant it was impossible for him to disguise his pride and elation among the celebrations.

Wenger complained in the build-up that the criticism he has received this season was “a disgrace” and something he will “never forget”.

And there was even more intrigue in the aftermath as his future after more than 20 years at Arsenal was still shrouded in uncertainty before a board meeting on Tuesday.

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What now for Wenger?

Wenger was a contrast in moods in his post-match media briefing, heaping praise on his players while clearly bristling at his treatment from a section of Arsenal’s support this season – with protest marches before matches, and banners calling for him to leave seen both inside and outside Emirates Stadium.

The man who has now brought a seventh FA Cup win of his tenure – as well as three Premier League titles, including two domestic Doubles – clearly believes he should have been afforded more faith, respect and support given his work and commitment.

It is a fanciful notion that, as he said, supporters should simply support once matches start but he has clearly been wounded by the discontent aimed in his direction this season.

Wenger confirmed his future would be clarified this week, with the smart money on an extension of his stay but still an air of uncertainty after a triumph that was fully deserved as Arsenal produced a magnificent display to overpower the Premier League champions.

He insisted he would never accept the “very hostile” environment Arsenal have faced at home this season, and there was a lingering sense that even if he stays, there will be something about his relationship with some supporters that will never quite be the same again.

Wenger was right to assert that an Arsenal career of more than 20 years, and effectively the immediate future of the club, should not come down to one game – but there is no escaping the significance of this FA Cup final win.

Had Arsenal lost, and lost heavily as many expected, the mood could have been so dark that even Wenger’s most fervent supporters might have wavered after failure to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in two decades.

Instead, this was a win and a performance that demonstrated Wenger can still win major trophies, can still produce a gameplan to beat the best in the Premier League, and can still provide some sort of answer to those who believe he is the man who changed the face of English football but is reluctant to change himself.

When Arsenal’s board meet on Tuesday, he can produce the FA Cup as tangible evidence to strengthen his hand in what he says will be a joint discussion about whether he and the club’s decision-makers believe he is the man to take the club forward.

What Arsenal’s board must decide is whether they can find anyone who is more likely to be successful than Wenger. And he may have to decide whether he can accept certain structural changes as Arsenal, as they have to do, look ahead to the post-Wenger years.

The joyous scenes at the final whistle, with Wenger arms aloft in triumph in front of Arsenal’s ecstatic support, were a far cry from the tension around Gander Green Lane in February, when there was the whiff of an FA Cup shock in the air as the Gunners took on non-league Sutton United on the back of a 5-1 Champions League humiliation at Bayern Munich.

Amid the questions, one thing is certain – this victory, and the manner in which it was achieved, with the sort of aggression, commitment and attractive attacking football that is the Wenger hallmark, at least provides a highly satisfactory basis for discussions this week.

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What must happen at Arsenal?

Arsenal’s third FA Cup win in four years is the sort of problem plenty of teams in the Premier League would love to have – but this does not mean serious matters can be ignored in a huge summer for the Gunners.

Aside from the pressing issue of Wenger’s situation, Arsenal must also resolve the futures of their two most marketable and talented players – Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown, a cornerstone of Wenger’s early successes, believes the pair have been indulged, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest he has a point.

At Wembley, though, Sanchez and Ozil were in the sort of form that suggests their manager is right to afford them a little special treatment.

Sanchez, alongside the tireless Danny Welbeck, was Arsenal’s spearhead. He scored their opening goal after four minutes, was a direct, aggressive, pacy threat and was a danger every time he got on the ball.

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Ozil was at his graceful best – although he should have scored in the first half – and raised gasps of surprise and joy from Gunners fans with a tackle of such weight it left Eden Hazard writhing in agony in a moment that summed up Arsenal’s ferocity.

For all their high maintenance, this pair give Arsenal an extra dimension when firing and need to be kept. Granit Xhaka also finally looks like the player who cost £29m from Borussia Monchengladbach last summer.

And what of the future for men like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott? Once again, they have not produced consistently. Will Wenger continue to show patience with obvious, but often frustrating, talents?

Wenger insists Arsenal only need one or two players of the highest quality, but they must be mentally as well as physically strong because, while he pointed at a blip in March, Arsenal’s problem is that blip usually occurs when the Premier League pressure is on, hence no title challenge for 13 years.

And yet, most of all, it comes back to clarity over Wenger’s future.

He is clearly unhappy at the uncertainty and hostility this has caused, but he must share – with Arsenal’s board – the blame for allowing the situation to drag on unresolved, and for discontent to fester in some quarters.

This is a summer of great significance for Arsenal – and the next few days will produce the most significant moment of all.

Arsene Wenger stats<!–

Wenger’s bravery rewarded

They say fortune favours the brave – and Wenger’s willingness to take a chance with his team selection was rewarded with what he will regard as one of the sweetest triumphs of his career.

Injuries to Gabriel and Shkodran Mustafi, as well as the suspension of Laurent Koscielny – Arsenal’s best central defender, meant Per Mertesacker had to blow away the cobwebs caused by having only 37 minutes of action this season.

The popular 32-year-old proved there was no substitute for experience, with a virtuous display of defending. No matter that he was short of game time, match sharpness and has never possessed serious pace – he was faultless.

Wenger was effusive in his post-match praise, saying: “Per Mertesacker is a perfect example for any young professional football player. What he did today was the consequence of an unbelievable attitude every day even when he was not selected.

“When he was not selected, he worked even harder and that is why I will pay a special tribute to him.”

Mertesacker, a World Cup winner with Germany in 2014, used every piece of knowledge, every mile on his football clock, to compensate for a season of inaction to be in the right place at the right time every time.

It was his first start for Arsenal in 392 days – and yet it was arguably his finest performance since he joined the club in August 2011.

Wenger also took a big risk in playing goalkeeper David Ospina ahead of Petr Cech in what is likely to be his final appearance for Arsenal before a summer move.

Cech figured in the semi-final and will have been disappointed to miss out. And Wenger’s decision looked in danger of backfiring when Ospina’s weak attempt at a save resulted in Diego Costa’s equaliser.

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Ospina was Wembley’s most relieved man when Aaron Ramsey headed Arsenal back in front, then the Colombian redeemed himself with a crucial save from Costa to ensure the FA Cup was on its way back to Emirates Stadium.

This was Wenger’s day. He got everything right and the FA Cup is his prize.

Wembley gets an FA Cup final classic

The FA Cup has faced the usual questions about whether it still retains its old glamour – but this was a final befitting what has been an outstanding competition this season.

Sutton United and Lincoln City, beaten by Arsenal in the fifth and sixth rounds respectively, provided the old-fashioned magical element, while the two semi-finals at Wembley were testimony to how seriously the FA Cup is taken by the heavyweights and how precious it remains on our sporting calendar.

Arsenal beat Manchester City, and Chelsea beat Spurs to set up a final that was a thriller from start to finish, with a controversial opening as Sanchez’s goal was initially ruled out for offside then given, a contest flowing with chances and attacking football and a late twist when Costa’s equaliser was answered instantly by Ramsey’s winner.

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Chelsea were not at their best, Arsenal did not allow them to be.

Antonio Conte’s side looked leg-weary and were overrun for long and painful periods, as if they had climbed the mountain once by winning the title and could not find the strength for a second assault on the summit.

Arsenal, in contrast, continued their recent upturn with an exuberant, fiercely competitive display and should have won more convincingly, with Welbeck and Ozil hitting the woodwork and Chelsea’s Gary Cahill clearing off the line in the first half from Ozil and Ramsey.

The sun shone. Wembley basked in glorious sunshine. The final itself was close to a classic.

The FA Cup proved once again the old magic lingers on.

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Wonderful end to difficult season as Wenger gets everything right – Shearer analysis

Arsenal’s season would have been a disaster if they had lost the FA Cup final to Chelsea but they have ended it on a wonderful note.It has been a difficult campaign for the Gunners, who missed out on a Champions League place for the first time in 20 ye…

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Wonderful end to difficult season as Wenger gets everything right – Shearer analysis

Arsenal’s season would have been a disaster if they had lost the FA Cup final to Chelsea but they have ended it on a wonderful note.It has been a difficult campaign for the Gunners, who missed out on a Champions League place for the first time in 20 ye…

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Wenger's Arsenal future 'will be clear by Thursday' after FA Cup success

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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said his future would become “very clear” on “Wednesday or Thursday”, after guiding the Gunners to another FA Cup success.The…

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Sanchez & Ramsey earn Gunners Wembley win – watch highlights

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Arsenal win the FA Cup for a record 13th time, beating Chelsea in a thrilling final at Wembley to deny the Blues a league and cup double.

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Sanchez & Ramsey earn Gunners Wembley win – watch highlights

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Arsenal win the FA Cup for a record 13th time, beating Chelsea in a thrilling final at Wembley to deny the Blues a league and cup double.

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Arsenal beat 10-man Chelsea to win record 13th FA Cup

Aaron Ramsey

Arsenal won the FA Cup for a record 13th time in a thrilling final by beating 10-man Chelsea, who were denied a league and cup double.

The result means Arsene Wenger is the most successful manager in the competition’s history with seven victories.

The Gunners had controversially taken the lead in the fifth minute through Alexis Sanchez, but the linesman had his flag up for Aaron Ramsey, who was stood in an offside position. Ramsey did not touch the ball, allowing Sanchez to run through and slot in.

Arsenal dominated the first half and could have doubled their advantage but Danny Welbeck struck the woodwork with a header and Ramsey chested the ball against the same post on the follow-up.

Victor Moses forced David Ospina into a fine save in the second period, before the Chelsea wing-back was given a second yellow card on 68 minutes for diving in the penalty area.

With 14 minutes remaining, the Blues got back into the game through Diego Costa’s shot that bobbled in, but Ramsey headed in the winner just two minutes later. The Welshman had also scored the winning goal in the 2014 cup final against Hull.

Arsenal could have had another late on, but Mesut Ozil struck the post from inside the area.

Wenger had major selection issues with Laurent Koscielny suspended and both Shkodran Mustafi and Gabriel injured, so centre-back Per Mertesacker was given his first start of the season. The German defender put in a dominant display to keep Costa quiet.

Chelsea failed to gain revenge for the 2002 final, which Arsenal won 2-0, and the result ends their run of four consecutive final victories.

More to follow.

Line-ups

Arsenal

  • 13Ospina
  • 16HoldingBooked at 53mins
  • 4Mertesacker
  • 18Monreal
  • 24Bellerín
  • 8RamseyBooked at 9mins
  • 29XhakaBooked at 81mins
  • 15Oxlade-ChamberlainSubstituted forCoquelinat 82′minutesBooked at 83mins
  • 11Özil
  • 7SánchezSubstituted forElnenyat 90+3′minutes
  • 23WelbeckSubstituted forGiroudat 78′minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Pérez
  • 12Giroud
  • 14Walcott
  • 17Iwobi
  • 33Cech
  • 34Coquelin
  • 35Elneny

Chelsea

  • 13Courtois
  • 28Azpilicueta
  • 30David Luiz
  • 24Cahill
  • 15MosesBooked at 68mins
  • 7KantéBooked at 59mins
  • 21MaticSubstituted forFàbregasat 61′minutes
  • 3Alonso
  • 11PedroSubstituted forWillianat 72′minutes
  • 19Diego CostaSubstituted forBatshuayiat 88′minutes
  • 10Hazard

Substitutes

  • 1Begovic
  • 4Fàbregas
  • 5Zouma
  • 6Aké
  • 22Willian
  • 23Batshuayi
  • 26Terry
Referee:
Anthony Taylor
Attendance:
89,472

Match Stats

Home TeamArsenalAway TeamChelsea
Possession
Home52%
Away48%
Shots
Home16
Away18
Shots on Target
Home6
Away5
Corners
Home7
Away5
Fouls
Home15
Away11

Live Text

Posted at

Match ends, Arsenal 2, Chelsea 1.

Full Time

Posted at90’+5′

Second Half ends, Arsenal 2, Chelsea 1.

Substitution

Posted at90’+3′

Substitution, Arsenal. Mohamed Elneny replaces Alexis Sánchez.

Posted at90’+1′

Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Posted at90’+1′

Foul by Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea).

Posted at90′

Attempt blocked. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Olivier Giroud.

Posted at88′

Foul by Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal).

Posted at88′

Eden Hazard (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Posted at88′

Substitution, Chelsea. Michy Batshuayi replaces Diego Costa.

Posted at87′

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Thibaut Courtois.

Posted at87′

Mesut Özil (Arsenal) hits the right post with a left footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Olivier Giroud following a fast break.

Posted at86′

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Nacho Monreal.

Posted at86′

Attempt saved. Diego Costa (Chelsea) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Posted at86′

Foul by Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal).

Posted at86′

Willian (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Posted at84′

Attempt missed. Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Mesut Özil.

Booking

Posted at83′

Francis Coquelin (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card.

Posted at83′

Foul by Francis Coquelin (Arsenal).

Posted at83′

Willian (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Posted at82′

Substitution, Arsenal. Francis Coquelin replaces Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Posted at82′

Attempt missed. David Luiz (Chelsea) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Willian with a cross following a set piece situation.

Booking

Posted at81′

Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Posted at81′

Foul by Granit Xhaka (Arsenal).

Posted at81′

Willian (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Goal!

Posted at79′

Goal! Arsenal 2, Chelsea 1. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Olivier Giroud.

Substitution

Posted at78′

Substitution, Arsenal. Olivier Giroud replaces Danny Welbeck.

Goal!

Posted at76′

Goal! Arsenal 1, Chelsea 1. Diego Costa (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Willian.

Posted at74′

Attempt missed. Gary Cahill (Chelsea) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Cesc Fàbregas with a cross following a corner.

Posted at74′

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Posted at73′

Foul by Mesut Özil (Arsenal).

Posted at73′

Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Posted at72′

Substitution, Chelsea. Willian replaces Pedro.

Posted at72′

Attempt missed. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Granit Xhaka.

Posted at71′

Attempt blocked. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

Posted at70′

Foul by Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).

Posted at70′

Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Dismissal

Posted at68′

Second yellow card to Victor Moses (Chelsea).

Posted at68′

Victor Moses (Chelsea) has gone down, but that’s a dive.

Posted at65′

Attempt missed. Cesc Fàbregas (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Posted at65′

Attempt blocked. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Pedro.

goal

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Arsenal beat 10-man Chelsea to win record 13th FA Cup

Aaron Ramsey

Arsenal won the FA Cup for a record 13th time in a thrilling final by beating 10-man Chelsea, who were denied a league and cup double.

The result means Arsene Wenger is the most successful manager in the competition’s history with seven victories.

The Gunners had controversially taken the lead in the fifth minute through Alexis Sanchez, but the linesman had his flag up for Aaron Ramsey, who was stood in an offside position. Ramsey did not touch the ball, allowing Sanchez to run through and slot in.

Arsenal dominated the first half and could have doubled their advantage but Danny Welbeck struck the woodwork with a header and Ramsey chested the ball against the same post on the follow-up.

Victor Moses forced David Ospina into a fine save in the second period, before the Chelsea wing-back was given a second yellow card on 68 minutes for diving in the penalty area.

With 14 minutes remaining, the Blues got back into the game through Diego Costa’s shot that bobbled in, but Ramsey headed in the winner just two minutes later. The Welshman had also scored the winning goal in the 2014 cup final against Hull.

Arsenal could have had another late on, but Mesut Ozil struck the post from inside the area.

Wenger had major selection issues with Laurent Koscielny suspended and both Shkodran Mustafi and Gabriel injured, so centre-back Per Mertesacker was given his first start of the season. The German defender put in a dominant display to keep Costa quiet.

Chelsea failed to gain revenge for the 2002 final, which Arsenal won 2-0, and the result ends their run of four consecutive final victories.

More to follow.

Line-ups

Arsenal

  • 13Ospina
  • 16HoldingBooked at 53mins
  • 4Mertesacker
  • 18Monreal
  • 24Bellerín
  • 8RamseyBooked at 9mins
  • 29XhakaBooked at 81mins
  • 15Oxlade-ChamberlainSubstituted forCoquelinat 82′minutesBooked at 83mins
  • 11Özil
  • 7SánchezSubstituted forElnenyat 90+3′minutes
  • 23WelbeckSubstituted forGiroudat 78′minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Pérez
  • 12Giroud
  • 14Walcott
  • 17Iwobi
  • 33Cech
  • 34Coquelin
  • 35Elneny

Chelsea

  • 13Courtois
  • 28Azpilicueta
  • 30David Luiz
  • 24Cahill
  • 15MosesBooked at 68mins
  • 7KantéBooked at 59mins
  • 21MaticSubstituted forFàbregasat 61′minutes
  • 3Alonso
  • 11PedroSubstituted forWillianat 72′minutes
  • 19Diego CostaSubstituted forBatshuayiat 88′minutes
  • 10Hazard

Substitutes

  • 1Begovic
  • 4Fàbregas
  • 5Zouma
  • 6Aké
  • 22Willian
  • 23Batshuayi
  • 26Terry
Referee:
Anthony Taylor
Attendance:
89,472

Match Stats

Home TeamArsenalAway TeamChelsea
Possession
Home52%
Away48%
Shots
Home16
Away18
Shots on Target
Home6
Away5
Corners
Home7
Away5
Fouls
Home15
Away11

Live Text

Posted at

Match ends, Arsenal 2, Chelsea 1.

Full Time

Posted at90’+5′

Second Half ends, Arsenal 2, Chelsea 1.

Substitution

Posted at90’+3′

Substitution, Arsenal. Mohamed Elneny replaces Alexis Sánchez.

Posted at90’+1′

Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Posted at90’+1′

Foul by Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea).

Posted at90′

Attempt blocked. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Olivier Giroud.

Posted at88′

Foul by Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal).

Posted at88′

Eden Hazard (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Posted at88′

Substitution, Chelsea. Michy Batshuayi replaces Diego Costa.

Posted at87′

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Thibaut Courtois.

Posted at87′

Mesut Özil (Arsenal) hits the right post with a left footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Olivier Giroud following a fast break.

Posted at86′

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Nacho Monreal.

Posted at86′

Attempt saved. Diego Costa (Chelsea) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Posted at86′

Foul by Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal).

Posted at86′

Willian (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Posted at84′

Attempt missed. Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Mesut Özil.

Booking

Posted at83′

Francis Coquelin (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card.

Posted at83′

Foul by Francis Coquelin (Arsenal).

Posted at83′

Willian (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Posted at82′

Substitution, Arsenal. Francis Coquelin replaces Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Posted at82′

Attempt missed. David Luiz (Chelsea) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Willian with a cross following a set piece situation.

Booking

Posted at81′

Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Posted at81′

Foul by Granit Xhaka (Arsenal).

Posted at81′

Willian (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Goal!

Posted at79′

Goal! Arsenal 2, Chelsea 1. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Olivier Giroud.

Substitution

Posted at78′

Substitution, Arsenal. Olivier Giroud replaces Danny Welbeck.

Goal!

Posted at76′

Goal! Arsenal 1, Chelsea 1. Diego Costa (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Willian.

Posted at74′

Attempt missed. Gary Cahill (Chelsea) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Cesc Fàbregas with a cross following a corner.

Posted at74′

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Posted at73′

Foul by Mesut Özil (Arsenal).

Posted at73′

Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Posted at72′

Substitution, Chelsea. Willian replaces Pedro.

Posted at72′

Attempt missed. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Granit Xhaka.

Posted at71′

Attempt blocked. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

Posted at70′

Foul by Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).

Posted at70′

Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Dismissal

Posted at68′

Second yellow card to Victor Moses (Chelsea).

Posted at68′

Victor Moses (Chelsea) has gone down, but that’s a dive.

Posted at65′

Attempt missed. Cesc Fàbregas (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Posted at65′

Attempt blocked. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Pedro.

goal

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Watch: Ramsey heads Arsenal's winner at Wembley

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Aaron Ramsey heads home Olivier Giroud’s cross to give Arsenal a 2-1 lead against Chelsea in the FA Cup final.