The English season came to a climax on Saturday with the 136th FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium. Now, with declining attendances, disastrous cup weekends and the bigger sides often playing weakened teams we ask – Is winning the FA Cup an achievement?
Arsenal scored sixteen goals en-route to the FA Cup final with ten of those coming against Southampton (reserves) and Lincoln City. It could be said that Arsenal’s only real test in reaching the final was their semi-final encounter with Manchester City. It was down to Alexis Sanchez, yet again, to save their season after Nacho Monreal equalised Sergio Aguero’s opening goal. And to be fair to Arsene Wenger, he played a strong side in each of the four rounds prior to the final. Theo Walcott, Oliver Groud and cup final hero Alexis Sanchez all scored in the 5-0 rout of Lincoln City with Theo Walcott also scoring in the previous round against Sutton United.
The same can’t be said for many sides who now see this tournament as a hindrance and would rather finish in the top four of the Premier League and claim a Champions League place. Liverpool crashed out in the fourth round playing a weakened side and going down 2-1 to a Wolves team that have struggled in the Championship this season with Leicester City crashing out in the next round at the hands of Millwall and Manchester City needing a replay to dispose of Huddersfield.
Chelsea would have liked nothing more than a Premier League and FA Cup double and scored fourteen goals in their march to the final. The highlight was undoubtedly a 4-2 semi-final win over London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Willian was outstanding in that match and scored two with arguably their most influential player this season, Eden Hazard, sealing the victory with Chelsea’s third. However, they looked second best in the final against Arsenal, but with a league title already in the bag, it’s something they will quickly recover from.
So, as Arsenal looked to secure some silverware and make up for a disappointing season, champions Chelsea had their sights set on an impressive league and cup double. Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring with just four minutes gone and a largely dominant Arsenal side were shocked when Diego Costa equalised for Chelsea on 76 minutes. However, Aaron Ramsey scored 3 minutes later and it was a comfortable Arsenal side who saw the match out against ten-men Chelsea.
Perhaps it’s the finance which now engulfs the Premier League and the promise of Champions League football that sees teams prioritise the Premier League over the FA Cup, but is finishing fourth in the Premier League really more impressive than winning the FA Cup?
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