The two most successful FA Cup teams of the past two decades meet in this classic final on Saturday, with Antonio Conte looking to complete the Double in his first season in England and Arsene Wenger looking to go out on a high note, if he is actually leaving in the wake of Arsenal finishing outside of the top four for the first time in a generation.
Chelsea and Arsenal have both won this competition six times in the last 20 years — Manchester United have three, Liverpool two, with one each for Manchester City, Portsmouth, and Wigan Athletic — with Chelsea winning four of the ten held at new Wembley and Arsenal winning two of the last three. History, bragging rights, the fate of the universe are all on the line.
Date / Time: Saturday, May 27, 17:30 BST; 12:30pm EDT; 10pm IST
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London, England
Referee: Anthony Taylor — Mr. Taylor refereed Chelsea’s first match this season, he will now get to referee our last. It will be his fifth Chelsea game of the season; we’ve won all four previous. But despite Arsenal fans’ apprehension, Taylor’s only prior Arsenal vs. Chelsea match was the Community Shield (now apparently a major trophy, according to Mourinho) in 2015, which the Gunners won 1-0.
Forecast: Warm and humid and sunny. “I like this temperature,” says Conte.
On TV: BBC One; BT Sport 2 (UK); FOX; FOX Deportes (USA); TEN 1; Sony Six HD/SD; Sony ESPN HD/SD (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BBC iPlayer, BT Sport Live (UK); FOX Sports Go; FOX Soccer 2Go (USA)
Arsenal team news: Arsenal and Arsene Wenger are staring at the prospect of the Europa League next season (provided he stays) after their worst league finish in 21 years. The futures of several key stars are also undecided, first and foremost of those being Chelsea-linked (but perhaps Bayern-bound) Alexis Sanchez. Things have gotten so desperate that they’ve even considered breaking their much-vaunted salary structure to keep the Chilean superstar.
Since their season went to pieces (again), Arsenal have finished the season strong (again). Meanwhile, Wenger has become the latest disciple of Conte’s Three-Man Defence Revolution, and the Gunners have thus won 8 of their last 9 (after winning just 4 of 12)
As Conte has taken great pains to point out, Arsenal should be the more desperate team here, with the FA Cup their last chance to make their season not a complete write-off. They should be greatly motivated, and key injuries in defense and an apparent decision to not start their best goalkeeper aside should make for a great challenge.
View from the enemy: The Short Fuse
Chelsea team news: After a record-setting league season (30 wins!), Chelsea remain fully healthy, fully fit, and, hopefully, fully motivated to turn a great season into a fantastic season.
Conte is expected to roll with the usual 3-4-3 lineup that he’s used no less than 13 times (and with minor variation in 90 per cent of the games since that 3-0 loss to Arsenal that proved to be such a crucial turning point for Chelsea). Former Arsenal star Cesc Fàbregas will hope to collect his fourth trophy since joining Chelsea three years ago, and will undoubtedly make at least a second-half appearance from the substitutes bench.
Since losing to Manchester United that got everyone excited that there may yet be a title race in the Premier League, Chelsea have won seven straight, scoring a minimum of three goals in six of those seven games. The seventh was against Tony Pulis.
Previously: Hoping to see a bit of BEASTMODE from Eden Hazard again.