There’s something about the FA Cup which inspires a sense of optimism among each of the 736 teams which enter the competition…
Chelsea and Arsenal are through to the FA Cup final following two highly entertaining semi-finals at Wembley Stadium.
The Premier League’s top two traded six goals as Chelsea beat Tottenham 4-2 to progress, before Arsenal overcame Manchester City in another thrilling contest a day later.
The semi-final saw two goals disallowed in the first half as City struggled to break down Arsenal.
Sergio Aguero finally broke the deadlock on the hour-mark only for Nacho Monreal to equalise with a fine right-footed volley, with Alexis Sanchez sealing the win in extra-time to set up a London derby cup final.
Here’s everything you need to know about the FA Cup final…
1. The first FA Cup final was played in 1872 at the Kennington Oval in London. It was won by Wanderers, defeating the Royal Engineers 1-0 in the final.
2. The first FA Cup final to be held at the Old Wembley was the 1923 final, won 2-0 by Bolton Wanderers. After a six-year stint at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, it returned to new Wembley in 2007, where Chelsea claimed a 1-0 win over Manchester United.
3. The only time the FA Cup has ever been out of England was when Cardiff beat Arsenal 1-0 in 1927. They had reached the final two years previously, but lost to Sheffield United. However, they weren’t the first non-English club to reach the final. Queen’s Park from Scotland lost two consecutive finals to Blackburn Rovers in the 1880s.
4. The highest scoring finals were in 1890 when Blackburn Rovers beat The Wednesday 6-1 and 1953 when Stanley Matthews inspired Blackpool to a 4-3 win over Stan Mortensen’s Bolton. The biggest win was in 1903 when Bury thrashed Derby County 6-0.
5. There have been 14 FA Cup final replays, including three in a row between 1981-83. Tottenham Hotspur won the first two, the 1981 final decided by Ricky Villa’s famous solo effort.
6. Arsenal will have the chance to go level with Manchester United on 11 FA Cup wins if they take the trophy. However, should they lose, they’ll join Everton on the record number of FA Cup final defeats with eight.
7. The official record attendance for an FA Cup final is 126,047, which was the first game at the old Wembley. However, reports suggest that the crowd could have been as large as 300,000.
8. Wanderers have the distinction of winning five FA Cups without losing a single final. Of teams still existing, Bury are top of the pile with two final wins and no losses. On the other end of the scale, Leicester City have played four finals without once lifting the trophy aloft.
9. Only two FA Cup finals have ever gone to penalties, and they happened in consecutive years. Arsenal v Manchester United in 2005 was won with Patrick Vieira’s last kick for the club before a dramatic 3-3 draw between Liverpool and West Ham was settled in the former’s favour through spot kicks.
10. In 2013 Wigan Athletic became the first club to win the FA Cup and be relegated in the same season. 16 years earlier, Middlesbrough lost the final (their second of the season having been defeated in the League Cup final) and got relegated from the Premier League.
FA Cup Final Background
The FA Cup, officially known as the FA Challenge Cup, is the oldest official association football competition in the world. The competition was first contested in 1871 and is approaching it’s 150th birthday in the coming years, with Arsenal and Manchester United currently tied as the most successful teams in the competition, although the Gunners could overtake the Red Devils this season.
For supporters in England, there is a certain romanticism attached to the trophy thanks to the nostalgic memories of years gone including dramatic final goals such as Ricky Villa’s solo effort for Tottenham Hotspur against Manchester City, and sensational giant-killings such as that of Wimbledon over Liverpool back in 1988.
Fans always seem to have fond memories of this competition and of course the fondest memories of all lie with supporters who see their team lift the famous trophy at Wembley Stadium – so which set of fans will be celebrating in the capital this time around, will it be the reds of Arsenal for the third time in four years, or the Blues of Chelsea celebrating a double win?
When and where is the FA Cup Final 2017
As ever, the FA Cup Final will once again take place at Wembley Stadium this summer. Since the opening of the new stadium in 2007, every cup final has taken place at this ground following a short break whereby it was played at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff during the refurbishment of Wembley. This will be the tenth anniversary of the return of the competition’s final to the English national stadium.
This year, the match will take place following the end of the Premier League season, once week before the Champions League Final on May 27th 2017. The kick-off time will be 5:30pm.
Who will play in the FA Cup Final?
After two enthralling semi-finals last month, we now know that we’ll be seeing a London derby at Wembley Stadium to finish off the domestic football calendar as Arsenal and Chelsea make the short return journeys to English football’s home for the final on Saturday May 27th.
The Gunners overcame Preston and Southampton in Rounds 3 and 4 respectively before beating non-league sides Sutton United and Lincoln City, followed by an Extra Time victory over Manchester City at the semi-final stage.
Chelsea meanwhile overcame EFL sides Peterborough United, Brentford and Wolverhampton Wanderers before beating Manchester United at home in the Quarter Finals and then another London rival, Tottenham Hotspur, in the semis.
Past Winners and Finals
Manchester United are the current holders of the FA Cup after they overcame Crystal Palace in Extra Time of the 2016 final at Wembley last May thanks to a Jesse Lingard strike.
After that victory, the Red Devils are the now the joint-most successful team in the history of the competition alongside Arsenal, who won the competition in the two seasons previous to United’s victory last time out.