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Alexis Sanchez, Per Mertesacker lead Arsenal to unlikely FA Cup glory

Arsene Wenger and Arsenal somehow managed to end a tumultuous season on a high by defeating Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup final.

Alexis Sanchez gave them the lead in somewhat fortuitous circumstances, before 10-men Chelsea equalised through Diego Costa. However, shortly afterwards Aaron Ramsey burst into the box and nodded past Thibaut Courtois to give the Gunners the upset win.

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There were positives all over the pitch for Arsenal today. The likes of Per Mertesacker and Alexis were absolutely outstanding -- the German's performance a particular highlight given it was his first start of the season.

Arsenal fans will be delighted that Tottenham's brilliant season ended trophyless, while Arsenal endured a nightmare campaign yet ended up with a precious piece of silverware.


Arsenal won the cup -- it's not easy to find negatives today.

Perhaps the one downer is that this may have been the final Arsenal match for the outstanding Alexis Sanchez. Arsenal must do all they can to persuade the Chilean to commit his future to the club.

Manager rating out of 10

9 -- Everything went well for Wenger today. His decision to stick with a back three was vindicated, as were most of his tactical choices. The introduction of Olivier Giroud also paid immediate dividends, as he immediately set up the winning goal with a lovely cross. Arsenal fans now wait for an announcement on Wenger's future.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK David Ospina, 7 -- Wenger's most surprising selection, Ospina had a mixed game. He made a brave stop from Costa in the first half, but perhaps ought to have done better to keep out the Spanish international's second-half goal. Nevertheless, Ospina ended what's likely to be his final Arsenal match with a trophy.

DF Rob Holding, 8 -- What an extraordinary rise Holding has enjoyed this season. A year ago, he was being relegated from the Championship with Bolton. Twelve months on he is an FA Cup winner and surely close to senior international recognition. Holding could have been a little tighter to Costa on his goal, but was largely excellent.

DF Per Mertesacker, 9 -- The giant German's record for the season now stands at one start, one trophy. This was a towering performance from Mertesacker, who was doubtlessly helped by being flanked by two fitter centre-halves in Holding and Nacho Monreal. In their hour of need, Arsenal's captain came through.

DF Nacho Monreal, 9 -- The Spaniard was the least talked about of Arsenal's makeshift back three, but excelled in what is not his natural position. A few months ago, Monreal was being written off as past it. He's showed he's still a hugely important player for this team.

MF Hector Bellerin, 8 -- Since coming back into the side, Bellerin has made the right wing-back role his own. This was another brilliant display, as he ran Marcos Alonso ragged throughout the 90 minutes.

MF Aaron Ramey, 9 -- The Welshman was Arsenal's cup hero once again, flying in to head home Olivier Giroud's cross and claim the trophy for North London. The goal capped a wonderful box-to-box performance from another player who looks reborn in Arsenal's new system.

In what may have been his final game for Arsenal, Alexis not only scored but led Arsenal to an FA Cup title.

MF Granit Xhaka, 8 --The Swiss international's passing was not as unerringly accurate as it sometimes is, but he did some good defensive work on the edge of the Arsenal box.

MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 7 -- Playing in his fifth different position of the season, Oxlade-Chamberlain acquitted himself well. It's fair to say Arsenal did not miss the ill Kieran Gibbs.

FW Mesut Ozil, 8 -- He is often accused of not turning up in big games, but at times this was a majestic performance from Ozil. The one thing missing was his finishing-- on another day, he might have ended up with a hat trick.

FW Alexis Sanchez, 9 -- It's no great surprise that it was Alexis who stepped up on the Wembley turf. His opener was his fifth Arsenal goal at the national stadium, and confirmed his status as a true Gunners hero. Arsenal fans will be praying he's still with them next season.

FW Danny Welbeck, 8 -- The English international justified his selection with a tireless display, stretching the Chelsea defence and ensuring they could not push too high up the field. He was also unlucky not to score with a first-half header that struck the post.


FW Olivier Giroud, NR -- What an impact from the Frenchman. He replaced Welbeck (78) and crossed for Ramsey's winner.

MF Francis Coquelin, NR -- Replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain (82) and was immediately booked.

MF Mohamed Elneny, NR -- Replaced Alexis (90) and might have scored with one late opportunity.

James McNicholas is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @gunnerblog.


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