The Football Association Challenge Cup, often referred to as the FA Cup, is the oldest soccer (football) competition in the world. Organized by the Football Association, the FA Cup is open to all clubs in the top 10 tiers of the English Football League system. The annual tournament culminates at the end of the long season with the FA Cup Final and is widely advertised as the showpiece of England’s beloved pastime.
Here’s everything you need to know to become a full-fledged soccer fanatic in time for the showdown between this season’s finalists: Arsenal Football Club and Chelsea Football Club.
The London-based rivals are set to face off at Wembley Stadium on May 27 with a common goal in mind: hoisting the FA Cup trophy over their heads as victory confetti rains from the sky above.
These Premier League teams are no strangers to the FA Cup. Arsenal boasts an impressive 12 FA Cup victories since becoming a team – an all-time record held alongside league rivals Manchester United. And in the past decade, Chelsea has claimed more victories (4 titles) than any other club, with the last medal earned in 2012.
Taking a closer look at the results from this London Derby, it’s clear as day that both teams benefit from a healthy home field advantage. A total of 19 FA Cup matches have transpired between the rivaling clubs, with 11 of those games unfolding in a sea of red and white at Emirates Stadium, and the other remaining eight on Chelsea’s home ground at Stamford Bridge.
At every home game, thousands of Arsenal fanatics belt out the motivational “And It’s Arsenal” song to cheer on the Gunners. And it appears to have worked magic for the players, with the club winning six of the home matches and scoring a total of 30 goals (an average of 1.58 per game) between the teams’ 19 faceoffs. On the other side of the field, the Blues worked their legs off to down Arsenal once at Emirates and four times at their West London-based stadium (scoring a collective 22 goals, or an average of 1.16 per game).
Road to the Cup
There’s no straightforward path to the FA Cup Finals, so let’s take a look at how both clubs grinded their way to the tournament’s final round.
During the first round of the competition, Arsenal defeated Preston North End (1-2) with goals credited to seasoned players Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud. For the next three rounds, including the quarterfinals, the Gunners fired away at full force – achieving three shutouts against Southampton, Sutton United, and Lincoln City, respectively. The North London-based squad secured their place in the finals after Alexis Sánchez silenced Manchester City during extra time.
A similar pattern followed for Chelsea during the first four rounds of the competition. The Blues blew out Peterborough United back in January and shut out all three subsequent opponents: Brentford FC, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Manchester United. Chelsea faced off against Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-final match and downed them accordingly with a little help from Willian Borges da Silva’s free kick and penalty goal.
All Eyes On Them
Over the course of the 2016-17 season, fanatics from both clubs have witnessed standout players thrive on the field and deliver favorable results. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the following players during the glorious showdown.
Alexis Sánchez: Sánchez thrives at Wembley and is the top scorer for Arsenal at the stadium, with a total of four goals produced on the field. The Chilean forward has also made tremendous contributions throughout the last 13 FA Cup matches by scoring seven goals and providing six assists.
Mesut Özil: Despite the change in formation, Mesut Özil is adjusting accordingly and even smashed a Premier League milestone by creating 12 chances against Sunderland.
Olivier Giroud: The French striker doesn’t receive the credit he deserves, but that doesn’t stop Giroud from excelling on the field. The 30-year-old impact sub has also scored more goals from the bench (six) than when he started matches.
Diego Costa: “When he’s not scoring he’s contributing.” Costa has displayed Premier League dominance throughout the season and is showing no signs of slowing down going into the FA Cup Final.
Eden Hazard: Hazard has been named one of the top performers in the Premier League this season with 15 goals and five assists under his belt. Although the Blues star has been linked with a possible move, Hazard has been astounding for Chelsea this campaign and looks forward to competing in the FA Cup Final.
Pedro: Be on the lookout for Pedro! This Blues forward is riding a wave of confidence after his goal against Everton, which landed him the April Goal of the Month award – quite a gratifying accolade.
Gettin’ Ready For the Finale
Before you make your way over to Wembley Stadium for the #FACup Final, make sure you’re well-equipped. Look no further than Fanatics for the ultimate collection of Arsenal and Chelsea fan gear!