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Category: Arsenal

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Arsène Wenger smiles better as he shakes off Arsenal hurt and suffering | David Hytner

FA Cup-winning manager says: ‘One thing you cannot question is my commitment … I have desire, I love my job, I love to win, I love to build’

More than anything, Arsène Wenger looked happy. For months, the Arsenal manager has furrowed his brow and tensed his body as the blows have rained down on him. He has sensed conspiracy at every turn; a trap in every question. There have been enemies everywhere, including within club ranks. It has been draining.

At Wembley on Saturday, the worry lines could finally soften and the enduring image of Arsenal’s FA Cup final victory over Chelsea was that of Wenger’s smile. Even those who have hounded and denounced him might have felt its warmth.

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Gary Cahill rues ‘crazy’ offside rule in wake of Chelsea’s FA Cup final defeat

• Defender says ‘maddest rule I have ever seen’ led to Arsenal’s opener
• ‘If Ramsey is not there, I can run out and get the ball,’ says Thibaut Courtois

Gary Cahill has described the current interpretation of the offside rule as “the maddest rule I have ever seen” as the Chelsea defender struggled to come to terms with the decision to award Alexis Sánchez’s opening goal in Saturday’s FA Cup final.

Chelsea were also perplexed that the referee, Anthony Taylor, did not penalise the Arsenal forward for handball in the buildup. After that Aaron Ramsey’s initial movement towards the ball from an offside position prompted the assistant referee, Gary Beswick, to raise his flag. Yet while Ramsey’s presence may have been a distraction, the fact he did not touch the ball, directly interfere with an opponent or ensure his side gained an unfair advantage through his position meant Taylor eventually allowed the fifth-minute goal.

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Departing John Terry urges Chelsea to spend big on their squad

The former captain of many triumphs said the club need to invest heavily in the transfer market to compete in the Champions League

First rewind almost eight years to the day and John Terry had stood confronted by massed ranks of dictaphone wielding media, deep in the bowels of Wembley stadium, contemplating what Chelsea must do next. The names that had tripped off his tongue that afternoon were David Villa and Franck Ribéry, “the kind of players we want to attract, the best out there”, with the senior pros sensing the current crop might fall marginally short when it came to Europe.

A year on and, with the club having recruited only Yuri Zhirkov of note in the interim, the captain’s rhetoric remained steadfast. “The big four need to strengthen next year because everyone’s become closer,” he had said before the successful defence of the FA Cup which would complete Carlo Ancelotti’s Double in his first season in charge. The established quartet were coming to terms with Manchester City’s new financial strength and, this time, Chelsea would react. Ramires, David Luiz and Fernando Torres arrived over the next seven months for a combined £90m, an eye-watering outlay at the time. Two years later the team would lift the European Cup in Munich.

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Arsène Wenger says Arsenal FA Cup win should answer questions over future

• Board meeting will decide manager’s future after almost 21 years at club
• ‘Best presentation I could make is for board to watch Cup final again’

Arsène Wenger will tell Arsenal’s directors to watch a recording of Saturday’s FA Cup final victory over Chelsea if they have any doubt about his suitability to stay on as the club’s manager.

The saga of Wenger’s future will finally be resolved this week, with an announcement set for Wednesday – the day after a meeting of the full board, which Wenger himself will attend as usual. Wenger has made it clear he thinks he ought to be allowed to continue into what would be his 22nd season at the club while he says he knows “what I would like to happen”.

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Departing John Terry urges Chelsea to spend big on their squad

The former captain of many triumphs said the club need to invest heavily in the transfer market to compete in the Champions League

First rewind almost eight years to the day and John Terry had stood confronted by massed ranks of dictaphone wielding media, deep in the bowels of Wembley stadium, contemplating what Chelsea must do next. The names that had tripped off his tongue that afternoon were David Villa and Franck Ribéry, “the kind of players we want to attract, the best out there”, with the senior pros sensing the current crop might fall marginally short when it came to Europe.

A year on and, with the club having recruited only Yuri Zhirkov of note in the interim, the captain’s rhetoric remained steadfast. “The big four need to strengthen next year because everyone’s become closer,” he had said before the successful defence of the FA Cup which would complete Carlo Ancelotti’s Double in his first season in charge. The established quartet were coming to terms with Manchester City’s new financial strength and, this time, Chelsea would react. Ramires, David Luiz and Fernando Torres arrived over the next seven months for a combined £90m, an eye-watering outlay at the time. Two years later the team would lift the European Cup in Munich.

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Arsène Wenger got strategy spot on from back to front in Arsenal win | Michael Cox

Manager deserves praise for switch in strategy which won the FA Cup final as he outfoxed Antonio Conte’s efforts to reshape his lineup

Regardless of the result, this felt like a fitting end to the campaign – a match between two sides lining up with a three-man defence. It had, of course, been a 3-0 defeat at the Emirates in September which encouraged Antonio Conte to switch to his 3-4-3 system, and then Chelsea’s astonishing run of form seemingly encouraged Arsène Wenger to follow suit.

For all the pre-match speculation about Arsenal’s defensive problems and the controversial decision to play David Ospina rather than Petr Cech, Wenger’s key decision here was up front. For the 4-0 FA Cup final victory over Aston Villa two years ago, Wenger elected for the speed of Theo Walcott and omitted Olivier Giroud, and the extra pace forced Aston Villa’s defence to play deeper, creating space between the lines when their midfield tried to press, allowing Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil to run riot. Here, an almost identical thing happened – albeit with Danny Welbeck, rather than Walcott.

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Arsène Wenger and Arsenal have answers but questions remain | Barney Ronay

Uncertainty over the future of Arsène Wenger persists but Arsenal put those troubles behind them as they beat Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup final

At the final whistle on a hot, fun, slightly wild afternoon at Wembley, Arsène Wenger crouched on the touchline and roared, not quite with abandon, but with a genuine sense of release, and even of anger. Cuffs still crisply buttoned, wasp-waisted in black slacks, Wenger eventually sank into a familiar double fist-pump, knees bent, like a man at a wedding performing a slow, heartfelt air-maracas solo.

Twenty minutes later he was there again climbing the Wembley steps with his players to face the royal party and the coyly gleaming trophy. Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat of Chelsea means Wenger now has seven FA Cup winners’ medals, more than any other manager, and as many as Chelsea and Liverpool in their entire respective histories. His first Cup as a coach was the Coupe De France 27 years ago. For all the vicissitudes of the job, the draining obsession, it seems pretty clear the sweetness is still there to be sucked from moments like these.

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Arsène Wenger remains coy over future after FA Cup win – video

Arsène Wenger, straight after leading Arsenal to a club record 13th win, as well as breaking the record for most FA Cup wins as a manager with his seventh, kept his cards close to his chest as he was questioned over his future. Wenger maintained that the only ones who will decide his future are the Arsenal board and himself

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N’Golo Kanté’s unusual mistake shows up careless Chelsea in FA Cup final | Paul Wilson

Chelsea’s player of the year was partly to blame for Arsenal’s first goal on a day when the champions looked out of sorts

Carelessness is not a word that has been applied to Chelsea very often this season, yet the champions began this final a little too laid back for their own good. They were behind after five minutes as a result, and player of the season N’Golo Kanté was partly to blame. Not for the attempted clearance that struck Alexis Sánchez and allowed the Chilean to run on and beat Thibaut Courtois, but for coughing up possession to allow Arsenal to threaten in the first place. Courtois had just made a routine catch from Mesut Özil’s early corner and bowled the ball out for Kanté to get an attack moving, only to see the normally reliable midfielder lose his bearings just outside his own penalty area to let Arsenal steal in.

It could not be said the error led directly to the goal but it was an ominously lackadaisical start by a side that has been noted for its smartness and precision all season. By the mid-point of the first half, by which time Gary Cahill had already been forced to clear off the line from Özil and Danny Welbeck had hit a post with a header from a corner, it was beginning to look as if Chelsea’s imperious march to the title had just been an illusion. It was either that or Arsène Wenger had simply been saving Arsenal’s best performance of the season as a means of answering his critics.

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‘No one gave us a chance here, and we responded,’ says Arséne Wenger

• ‘I refused to give up hope and so did my team’
• ‘There was a clear handball for the first goal,’ says Antonio Conte

Arsène Wenger described winning his seventh FA Cup as one of the proudest moments of his career because of the criticism he faced this season, before going on to criticise some of the supporters who would like him removed for creating a hostile environment in matches.

Related: Aaron Ramsey fires Arsenal to FA Cup final win over 10-man Chelsea

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Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea: how the FA Cup final players rated

Alexis Sánchez was the star of the show, with support from Per Mertesacker and Aaron Ramsey, while Victor Moses can have no complains about his red card

David Ospina, 6/10 Preferred to Petr Cech, he made himself big and saved bravely from Costa in the first half but should have saved the equaliser. Huge save at the end to win the game.

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Aaron Ramsey fires Arsenal to FA Cup final win over 10-man Chelsea

Amid all the euphoria for Arsenal, there has to be a school of thought that perhaps these are now the ideal circumstances for Arsène Wenger to step aside. His team had won, thrillingly, against the champions of England, making Wenger the most successful manager in the history of this competition. It was his seventh victory and these are the occasions that remind us why a manager with his record of achievement surely deserves a happy ending.

Equally, these must be the kind of occasions when Wenger is reminded what it is about football that makes it an addiction. It is a hard habit to kick and his team chose a good moment to put in their best performance of the season, beating a Chelsea side for whom Victor Moses suffered the indignity of being sent off for two bookable offences.

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Arsenal v Chelsea: 2017 FA Cup final – live!

12.12pm BST

Is there anything better in this world than a sunny Wembley on FA Cup final day? Well, possibly. But you’d be an awful churl to insist upon making the argument. English football’s signature occasion is oft-derided these days … but only by fools who long ago let the love drain from their heart and don’t know what they’re missing. It still has a little life in it yet. What a gorgeous day.

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Arsène Wenger defiant and focused before FA Cup final against Chelsea

Arsenal manager does not look back, does not keep his medals and despite the incessant clamour he is still giving nothing away about his future

Arsène Wenger has not been forthcoming in his media conferences for some time and the regulars who travel to see him at Arsenal’s training ground in St Albans would say he is particularly guarded before a big game. This week was no exception. But before the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday, the manager brought some extra ingredients – exasperation, defiance and a series of digs; some veiled, others the equivalent of going in two-footed.

Take the one that related to Tony Adams. The club’s former captain has a new book out, which led to one headline about how Wenger “couldn’t coach his way out of a paper bag”. Understandably, it went down badly with him.

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Arsenal v Chelsea: match preview

The Double is on for Antonio Conte and it is clear Chelsea must be considered favourites, given the season they have had. Arsène Wenger is unconcerned. He knows the underdog can have its day and he referenced the 2005 FA Cup final, when his Arsenal team “had no players available” but somehow beat Manchester United. It could be Diego Costa’s last game in Chelsea colours but probably will not be Wenger’s last at Arsenal. David Hytner

Kick-off Saturday 5.30pm

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Petr Cech injury hands David Ospina surprise FA Cup final start for Arsenal

• Cech devasted after suffering setback in training
• Ospina started in first three rounds of competition

Petr Cech has been ruled out of the FA Cup final for Arsenal against Chelsea on Saturday with a slight injury, meaning Arsène Wenger will start with David Ospina in goal. Cech is devastated by the setback, which he suffered in training, particularly as Wenger was ready to give him the nod against his former club.

Wenger has had to mix and match at the back in the face of a selection crisis and he will ask Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is fit again after hamstring trouble, to step in at left wing-back in his 3-4-2-1 formation. Hector Bellerin will continue at right wing-back. The left-back, Kieran Gibbs, has been struggling with a thigh problem.

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Arsène Wenger and Antonio Conte look forward to FA Cup final – video

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger and his counterpart Antonio Conte consider Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley between the two sides. Wenger concedes that Chelsea are favourites for the trophy but suggests the club can take confidence from their semi-final win over Manchester City. Conte meanwhile is looking to secure the Double in his first season in English football

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Arsène Wenger and Antonio Conte look forward to FA Cup final – video

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger and his counterpart Antonio Conte consider Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley between the two sides. Wenger concedes that Chelsea are favourites for the trophy but suggests the club can take confidence from their semi-final win over Manchester City. Conte meanwhile is looking to secure the Double in his first season in English football

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How the era of wealthy English superclubs has devalued the Double | Paul Wilson

It used to be seen as domestic football’s Everest but the modern domination of a handful of clubs has made winning the Premier League and FA Cup a much less remarkable feat

Antonio Conte is on the verge of winning the Double in his first season in England. That sounds a remarkable feat and actually it will be as Chelsea will have disposed of Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal in the FA Cup should they be found running round Wembley with the trophy on Saturday evening, though there can be little doubt the Double is a somewhat devalued currency these days.

Related: It was Arsenal’s day in 2002 – but it has mostly been Chelsea’s ever since | Amy Lawrence

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Arsenal tip-toe into the Diego Zone: the ogre of Stamford Bridge awaits | Barney Ronay

If Wembley really is the end for Diego Costa after 57 goals, almost 400 fouls and a relentless concatenation of outrage, he couldn’t have chosen better opponents

Arsenal fans riled by the Groundhog Day-style repetitions of the last few years have at least been treated to something more immediate before Saturday’s FA Cup final against Chelsea. Faced with the prospect of another tangle with Diego Costa Arsenal’s centre-backs have been cutting straight to the chase. Shkodran Mustafi is already concussed. Laurent Koscielny has already been red-carded and banned. Gabriel got in there early with his injured knee. Entering the Diego Zone? They’re way ahead of you.

Arsenal have generally seen the best and the worst of Costa during three seasons of mischief and fury in the Premier League, a centre-forward who does not so much play on the edge as appear at times to be completely unaware the edge exists in the first place. Even at full strength successive Wenger-issue centre-halves have been bruised and bullied through a head-to-head record of three kidney-punching defeats and a single, ultimately fruitless, victory last September, the 3-0 win at the Emirates that acted as a spark for Chelsea’s title charge.

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