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Friday, 26 May 2017

FA Cup Final Pick 2017- Arsenal vs Chelsea (May 27th)

The FA Cup Final is played on Saturday 27th May as the English domestic season comes to a close this weekend culminating with the Championship Play Off Final on Monday 29th May.

The season has certainly felt a really good one after coming back from Stockholm and Manchester United having a place in the Champions League secured for the 2017/18 campaign.

I'll have some pictures from my time in Stockholm and a short piece about the 2016/17 Manchester United season in the days following the World Cup Qualifiers in June.

I have been saying for a few weeks that I am not expecting an announcement from Arsene Wenger regarding his future until the season is over. That would mean three months of avoiding the demonstrations we have seen over the last few weeks of the season and I am pretty convinced that he will stay on as manager despite Arsenal missing out on a top four finish for the first time in twenty years.

That means Arsenal will be playing in the Europa League next season and failing to win the FA Cup would underline what a poor season it has been for the club. The Gunners have been hit and miss away from home where they have a 9-3-7 record in the Premier League, although they did have some solid wins on the road in the FA Cup. An extra time win over Manchester City helped Arsenal reach the FA Cup Final, while they also won at Preston North End, Southampton, Sutton United before a home win over Lincoln City.

Arsenal have lost 1 of their last 9 games in all competitions and have bounced back from the 2-0 loss at Tottenham Hotspur by winning 5 in a row in the Premier League, although they still came up short for a top four finish. The side have won 3 of their last 5 games away from the Emirates Stadium and only the loss at White Hart Lane provides a black mark in that run.

Laurent Koscielny is suspended and Gabriel hurt himself and is set to miss out on the Cup Final.

Arsenal Expected Starting Line Up: Cech, Holding, Mustafi, Mertesacker, Bellerin, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud.

Winning the Premier League title is a huge achievement for Antonio Conte in his first season as manager of Chelsea, but the Italian strikes me as someone who won't be patting himself on the back. Instead I think Conte would have turned his focus to the FA Cup Final and securing a debut season Double with Chelsea before preparation begins for the 2017/18 season.

The Blues finished the season with a points total which is the second highest in the Premier League era and they also had the best away record in the Division as they ended the season with a 13-3-3 record. An impressive 4-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur helped Chelsea move into the FA Cup Final while they have also seen off Peterborough United, Brentford, Wolves and Manchester United in the competition this season.

Chelsea ended the season with 6 straight wins in all competitions following the 2-0 loss at Manchester United and they scored plenty of goals in that run. In 5 of the 6 wins, Chelsea scored at least three times with the exception being a 0-1 win at West Brom. The side have won 7 of their last 8 games away from Stamford Bridge.

There don't look to be any injury concerns for Chelsea ahead of the FA Cup Final.

Chelsea Expected Starting Line Up: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Moses, Alonso, Kante, Matic, Pedro, Hazard, Costa.

Head to Head
Both Arsenal and Chelsea recorded a heavy win over the other in the Premier League- Arsenal won 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium and Chelsea won 3-1 at Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal have won just 2 of 14 games against Chelsea with The Blues winning 9 of those games.

However one of the Arsenal wins came in a 1-0 victory in the Community Shield at the start of the 2015/16 season which was played at Wembley Stadium.

Prediction and Pick
The FA Cup Final is unlikely to be the last time we see Arsene Wenger managing Arsenal, although a defeat is going to ramp up the pressure to unprecedented levels on the manager. Finishing outside of the top four of the Premier League and thus missing out on the Champions League is a huge blow for Arsenal, while the defensive crisis is coming at just the wrong time.

Questions about the future commitments of the manager, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil will be both in the lead up and the immediate aftermath of this FA Cup Final and it does make it tough preparation for the Arsenal players.

They did end the season in strong form, but they won't find a demotivated opponent in this one as they did in some of their fixtures following the 2-0 loss in the North London derby. That will make the upheaval tough to overcome as they take on the Premier League Champions Chelsea who want to add another piece of silverware to what has already been a successful season for the club.

Antonio Conte doesn't have any real issues when it comes to team selection and the Chelsea players have been producing some top performances down the stretch. Goals have been flowing and a team playing with the confidence they are is tough to oppose in the FA Cup Final.

Chelsea blew Arsenal away when they played at Stamford Bridge back in February and I think they are going to be too strong in the FA Cup Final too. There is quality in the Arsenal ranks through Sanchez and Ozil that can cause problems for Chelsea, but the defensive problems for Wenger's team will likely be exposed by a Chelsea team who have scored 24 goals in their last 7 since the 2-0 defeat at Manchester United.

It would be a real surprise to me if Chelsea are not the winners of this Cup Final and I will back them to do that inside ninety minutes.

MY PICKS: Chelsea to Win @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)

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