Arsene Wenger secured his record seventh FA Cup final win as Arsenal produced a magnificent display to win a Wembley thriller against 10-man Chelsea.
Alexis Sanchez gave Arsenal the lead in contentious fashion after only four minutes, when referee Anthony Taylor overruled his assistant after he had flagged for offside against Aaron Ramsey.
The Premier League champions also claimed Sanchez handled in the build-up. And their task became even harder when Victor Moses was correctly sent off by Taylor in the second half after receiving a second yellow card for diving.
Diego Costa revived Chelsea’s hopes of a repeat of their league and FA Cup double in 2010 when Arsenal keeper David Ospina failed to keep out his deflected shot with 14 minutes left.
Arsenal, outstanding throughout, refused to be denied and were back in front inside three minutes when Ramsey, who scored the FA Cup final winner against Hull City in 2014, did it again with a header from substitute Olivier Giroud’s cross.
Wenger pumped his fists in delight at the final whistle, as a season that has brought so much criticism for the 67-year-old ended in Wembley glory with a record 13th FA Cup win for the Gunners – and a record seventh for the Frenchman.
‘Best display of the season’
Former England midfielder Jermaine Jenas on BBC Radio 5 live:
Arsene Wenger was right when he said the season has been a tough one for the players and fans, but they turned up today.
They had one mindset, to walk off as winners, and that was clear to see. They played the better football and wanted it more. The Chelsea players were hanging their heads but they had an unbelievable season. On the day, not enough players turned up, they did not deserve to win.
Arsenal defender Rob Holding had a fantastic semi-final too and he was under the spotlight, as was Per Mertesacker. Both players put on a huge display. What a performance Mesut Ozil put in too. Man for man, they were much better than Chelsea.
I cannot believe how ordinary Arsenal made Chelsea look. The Premier League champions could not handle Arsenal’s footballing ability in the middle of the pitch. They could not get any rhythm or get on the ball. It was their best display of the season.
Wenger was effectively forced to plunge veteran German defender Per Mertesacker into action after only 37 minutes playing time this season as he wrestled with a defensive crisis – and how the 32-year-old rewarded him.
The Gunners were without suspended Laurent Koscielny, injured Gabriel and Shkodran Mustafi, who was suffering from concussion. It meant a call-up for Mertesacker against the most demanding Premier League opponents of all.
He was faultless throughout, giving a masterclass in positioning, timing and making crucial interceptions time after time in a display that made a mockery of his lack of action.
Mertesacker made experience count as he subdued Costa, apart from a moment when he got a slight deflection on his equaliser, but the embrace he received from his manager at the final whistle told the story.
Bridge too far for Chelsea
Chelsea went into this final as firm favourites to claim the league and cup double against an Arsenal side who have been their inferior this season. But in the end it was just one game too far for Antonio Conte’s men.
They looked leg-weary and slow and key men such as Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante were unable to exert their usual influence.
The Blues threatened to demonstrate their durability and resilience once more when, even at a numerical disadvantage, Costa put them back in the game.
It was not to be – and the brutal truth is that on the day they were outplayed by a resurgent Arsenal. This has still been an outstanding season for Conte’s side.