How the flibberdee gibbet did that happen? Where on earth did that performance from Arsenal come come? What. The. Actual. Fugg.
I turned up early at JJ Moons because I thought I needed to drown my sorrows before the game had even started. I spent four and a half hours telling people we didn’t have a chance. As I said to one of my mates pre game, it was a self preservation method I think because after all, Chelski are the best team in the country and recently crowned champions. We finished fifth in a poor season and seemed to be missing half of our team. We were a patched up side with players out of position and a captain who hadn’t played all season. Surely there was no way we could overcome Chelski?
Well I got that more wrong than I could have ever imagined. Arsène named the side we all expected and the team responded with possibly the best performance of the season, given the context of what had come before and the players available to us, on top of Chelski from the first minute. We hit the post multiple times, we had balls off the line and we pulled Chelski across the pitch with the kind of confidence and swagger that hasn’t been seen from an Arsenal side in over six months.
The back five were resolute. Mertesacker marshalling his teammates in a display that shows just how much value he adds to a side. Holding was imperious. Monreal, Bellerin and Ox all proved just how much better they’ve become in these new positions, whilst in front of them Xhaka and Ramsey dominated.
We controlled the possession of the ball and dictated play from the first minute and Chelski didn’t know what to do. Ramsey has a new lease of life in this 3-4-3 formation and his stooped header was straight out of the 2014 vintage. I turned to Dave after that went in and said “how has that happened? We never get instant reactions to going behind. We’re normally the ones that get instantly skanked!” But I was glad. So very glad. Because it meant we could continue to dominate. We could continue to dictate the flow of the game and we did just that.
I’d tweeted before the game that Antony Taylor worried me, but once again I have to hold my hands up, because he did something I have never seen another referee do. He gave a player a second yellow for diving. And make no mistake it was a blatant dive by Moses. But refs usually bottle that decision to send players off. Taylor did not and we were suddenly a man advantage. And that enabled us to make the pitch even bigger and dominate Chelski even more than we had done before.
Even then though, Chelski still made a good fist of it and could have come back, but we stayed strong and resolute and lifted the cup.
I’m beginning to like Wembley. A lot. We have a pretty decent record there and I’ll be hoping for more of the same in future. We are the most successful English club in this competition and this morning that feels good.
This summer will bring lots of questions and there is still lots of uncertainty, but for now, we can just enjoy a trophy that we richly deserve.
Up the Arsenal.