It is slowly turning in to Arsenal and Arsene Wenger’s favourite trophy, as the Gunners look to rekindle their love relationship with the FA Cup, when it starts up again this weekend.
A trip to Nottingham Forest awaits Wenger’s side, as the Frenchman will want to continue his stunning record of not losing to a lower-league team in the competition, during his 21 year spell.
The 2017 triumph was another memorable one for the Gunners, which ended up with victory at Wembley in May, over London rivals, Chelsea. Let’s have a look at how Arsenal recorded their 13th FA Cup title.
Preston North End (a) – Third Round
Wenger’s side were handed a tricky looking third round trip to high-flying Championship outfit, Preston North End. Following a packed festive programme in the Premier League, many big names were rested for the trip to Deepdale, as it was only a few days earlier, that the Gunners had clawed themselves back from 3-0 down to rescue a point away at Bournemouth.
It was Preston who scored first on a bitterly cold Saturday evening, up in Lancashire, as an early Callum Robinson goal stunned Arsenal.
Though, normality was resumed at the start of the second half, when Aaron Ramsey struck home from range to drag Arsenal back into the tie. And the Gunners left it late to seal their comeback, when Olivier Giroud bundled the ball in with a minute of normal time remaining, to break Preston hearts and put Arsenal safely into the fourth round.
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Southampton (a) – Fourth Round
Arsenal were matched with Southampton in the fourth round, as the Gunners faced another away trip in the cup. With midweek Premier League fixtures coming up, both sides rotated heavily when the sides met at St. Mary’s.
But class showed between both sets of squads, as Arsenal ran into a 3-0 half-time lead, thanks to a double from Danny Welbeck and a Theo Walcott strike.
That pattern continued in the second half, as Walcott added two more to complete his hat-trick against the side where it all started for him, as Arsenal ran out 5-0 winners in an emphatic cup win.
Sutton United (a) – Fifth Round
It was the tie which had the potential to be one of the biggest FA Cup shocks in history, as non-league, Sutton United and their artificial pitch awaited Arsenal. Sutton had already knocked out Football League sides such as AFC Wimbledon and Leeds United.
Wenger continued the theme of a mix of youth and experience in the cup, as Lucas Perez silenced the lively Sutton faithful, to give Arsenal an early first half lead in South London.
The job was completed in the second half, as Walcott struck again in the cup to double Arsenal’s lead, and what was also his 100th goal for the club, as the Gunners saw off any Sutton scare to book their place in the quarter-finals.
Lincoln City (h) – Quarter-Final
It was yet another non-league tie for Arsenal, as they were awarded their first home tie of this year’s competition. Lincoln City weren’t to be underestimated, just like Sutton, with Burnley the latest side to fall under a giant-killing from Arsenal’s quarter-final opponents.
Arsenal headed in to the tie at the Emirates in shocking form, and the storm clouds were starting to brew around North London, following an embarrassing 10-2 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League during the week.
And those nerves at the Emirates were for all to see as Arsenal took until the 45th minute to break the non-league side down, thanks to yet another Walcott FA Cup goal. The second half was a lot more straight forward, as Olivier Giroud doubled Arsenal’s lead, before an own goal from Luke Waterfall, put the tie beyond any doubt.
Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey added more late goals, as Wenger’s men tried to paper over the cracks of what was forming in to a classic Arsenal mid-season crisis. 5-0, Arsenal were in to the semi-finals and a trip to Wembley was next.
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Manchester City (n) – Semi-Final
Four ‘big guns’ remained in the competition, as the cup reached its latter stages. Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City were all still in the hat, and it was Pep Guardiola’s side who Arsenal were paired with, in what promised to be a fascinating tie.
Wenger had recently adapted to three at the back when Arsenal headed to Wembley, and still the storm clouds were hanging heavily over his side, with this cup the last chance to save Arsenal’s season.
Goalless at half-time, following a controversial disallowed goal for City, it was Guardiola’s side which broke the deadlock early in the second half though. Sergio Aguero broke clear of the new look Arsenal defence, to clip the ball over Petr Cech and put City in the driving seat at Wembley.
Cue the Arsenal revival. That Aguero goal almost spurred the Gunners on, as the tie came to life. A fantastic Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain delivery was met by Nacho Monreal of all people, to fantastically thump Arsenal level with just under twenty minutes remaining.
Extra time it was, as nothing could separate the two sides. Arsenal’s savour throughout last season was on hand once again though, as Alexis Sanchez popped up with yet another vital goal, in the first period of extra time. And it was enough for Arsenal, as they escaped late pressure from City, to book themselves yet another FA Cup Final.
Chelsea (n) – Final
Chelsea, fresh from winning the Premier League title, were aiming to claim a league and cup double, as Antonio Conte’s men were heavy, heavy favourites at Wembley in May. And given Arsenal’s current defensive situation at the time, with no Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi, it meant that Per Mertesacker was handed his first start of the season at the heart of that defence.
Not given a single chance by all of the media beforehand, but when Sanchez gave Arsenal a controversial early lead at Wembley, the confidence in Wenger’s side was evident for all to see. Arsenal ran Chelsea ragged in the first half, and could’ve found themselves 2 or 3 up at half-time.
And the Gunners were given an even bigger advantage when Victor Moses received a second yellow card for diving. But, in typical Arsenal style, they handed Chelsea the incentive back, as Diego Costa bundled in an equaliser with just under fifteen minutes left.
But this was Arsenal’s day from the first whistle, and within minutes of the game restarting after Costa’s goal, the Gunners were immediately back in front. After some fantastic work from Giroud, he clipped the ball over to an onrushing Ramsey, who scored his second FA Cup winner in three years.
It was a monumental day for Arsenal, which will solely be remembered for a hatful of individual performances, in particular, Mertesacker, as Wenger’s side registered a record-breaking 13th FA Cup success.