Premier League champions Chelsea will be looking to complete the double and add to their league title when they take the trip across London to face rivals Arsenal in the FA Cup final on Saturday.
Antonio Conte’s men surged to the Premier League title with two games remaining when they beat West Brom in early May and are now aiming to regain the famous trophy that they last won back in 2012.
Yet despite Arsene Wenger’s future still being in the balance after missing out on the top four, he will have the chance to win the FA Cup for a record seventh time with victory over their near rivals.
See below for the three key battles that The Boot Room will look out for on Saturday teatime.
Petr Cech vs Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Pedro
Undeniably the driving force behind Chelsea’s title success this season has been the prolific trio of Eden Hazard, Pedro and Diego Costa in front of goal.
Between them they have managed 45 (53%) of Chelsea’s 85 goals in the Premier League and, at times, they have been an unstoppable force during the Blues’ rampant season.
Add to this the 21 assists that they’ve chalked up this season and some 171 chances created across just 38 Premier League games and it’s already looking like a long afternoon for Arsenal supporters.
The man tasked with keeping them at bay for the Gunners is likely to be veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech, a man who will want to forget the last time he lined up against his former club in February.
On that occasion, an individual error from the 35-year-old led to Cesc Fabregas adding a third at Stamford Bridge on the way to a 3-1 win for Chelsea, in a game that also included a moment of world-class brilliance from Hazard who scored an exceptional solo goal from inside his own half.
Yet Cech has been at his obdurate, consistent best for Arsene Wenger’s side this season, keeping 12 clean sheets in 35 appearances including four in his previous seven matches.
The worry for Arsenal though is that Hazard, Costa and Pedro have huge confidence and momentum on their side, and on a fast-paced Wembley pitch there’s a chance the trio could cause havoc.
Aaron Ramsey vs N’Golo Kante
The middle of the Wembley pitch on Saturday has the potential to turn into a mouth-watering encounter between the immense figure of N’Golo Kante and the unfulfilled potential of Aaron Ramsey.
There’s little that can be said about the 26-year-old French midfielder that hasn’t already been said this season, setting the Premier League alight once again and controlling the middle of the park.
Yet since making his return to the starting line-up in the middle of April, Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey has silently impressed and played a key part in pushing Arsenal so close to a top-four spot.
Injuries have plagued Ramsey’s career at the Emirates but he’s beginning to build a solid partnership with Granit Xhaka in the Arsenal midfield, and the duo could give Kante a run for his money.
Whilst Ramsey offers more in an attacking sense than Kante does, often making late runs into space around the edge of the area to stretch a defence, the Chelsea man lends himself extremely well defensively and on average makes four times as many defensive actions each match than Ramsey.
Despite the attacking fire-power that both sides possess, it’ll be in the midfield where the match will be won and it could boil down to which of Kante or Ramsey turns up on the day and dominates most.
Alexis Sanchez vs David Luiz
If there’s one man who will carry Arsenal’s hopes of ending the season with a piece of silverware it’s their talisman Alexis Sanchez, who has been a shining light in a dismal season at the Emirates.
Extra-time hero in the Gunners’ semi-final victory over Manchester City the Chilean featured in every single Premier League match this season, being directly involved in 44% of Arsenal’s goals.
This tally of 28 goals and 10 assists stands head and shoulders above any of his teammates this year, and with speculation over his uncertain future set to continue into the summer transfer window there’s a chance that the FA Cup final could potentially be his final farewell for Arsene Wenger’s side.
There can be no doubt that David Luiz will have something to say about his however, lining up in the heart of a dogged Chelsea defence determined to secure his second FA Cup winners’ medal.
It seems a long time ago that there were question marks over his move back to Stamford Bridge from Paris Saint Germain, as an excellent campaign has seen the Brazilian back at his fluent best.
Comfortable in a defensive three alongside Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta, Luiz has been the epitome of consistency but still possesses the desire and commitment that was so evident in his past spell.
It’ll be the battle of the South Americans at Wembley and it’s almost inevitable that passions will run high – particularly between Luiz and Sanchez – and it’ll be a clash worth keeping an eye on.
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