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Three Key Battles That Could Decide The Fate Of The FA Cup Final Between Arsenal And Chelsea

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Arsenal and Chelsea are set to battle it out in the finals of the Emirates FA Cup 2017 at the Wembley on Saturday evening.

The Gunners will be under pressure to salvage something out of the season after having finished out of the top four positions of the Premier League for the first time in years. With manager Arsene Wenger’s future under severe doubts, a third FA Cup trophy in four years would be a great way to sign off.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are in a position to complete a domestic double, having romped home to win the Premier League title earlier this month in the first season under new boss Antonio Conte. The last time Chelsea won a Premier League and FA Cup double was way back in 2010 under Carlo Ancelotti and they would want to change that this time around.

With the Wembley set to host another historic final, let’s take a look at three key battles that could decide the fate of the match:

Mesut Ozil vs N’Golo Kante

The Gunners’ creator in chief, Mesut Ozil, has made a habit of going missing in the big games over the years, which has hurt them previously on quite a number of occasions. But he will need to be at the top of his game on Saturday, to help Arsenal to finish the season with a silverware. And for that to happen, he’ll need to avoid the attention of a certain N’Golo Kante. The Frenchman has had another stellar campaign after joining Chelsea in the last summer and deservedly won the PFA Player of the Year award.

One of the best playmakers in the game on his day against the best midfield destroyer out there in the current time, the winner of this contest will have a huge say in the fortunes of his team.

Rob Holding vs Diego Costa

Arsenal are in a bit of a defensive crisis coming into the finals of the FA Cup. Wenger will not be able to call on Shkodran Mustafi and Gabriel due to injuries and captain and defensive mainstay Laurent Koscielny will also miss out due to suspension.

So the onus of the defence will fall on the young shoulders of Rob Holding. The summer signing has been playing beautifully in the past month or so in the three-man backline that Wenger has switched to. But his biggest test till date will come in the form of Chelsea’s beast of a striker Diego Costa. The Spaniard has been at the forefront of the success that the Blues have achieved this term. He has scored 21 goals so far this season and has been instrumental.

Holding will have a huge task at his hands to keep the explosive marksman quiet, but if he manages to do so, Arsenal will have a great chance on getting their hands on the trophy.

Alexis Sanchez vs Cesar Azpilicueta

Arsenal’s answer to Chelsea’s Diego Costa is their own explosive forward Alexis Sanchez. The 28-year old Chilean has been the best player for the Gunners’ by miles. He has notched up a total of 29 goals this season and finished as the third highest goal-getter in the Premier League with 24 strikes. Conte and Chelsea will have to keep him under the wraps if they are to get the double.

And the man for the job will be Cesar Azpilicueta. The Spaniard has been one of the best defenders this season, despite having played in an unfamiliar centre-half role in Conte’s three-man defence. His defensive nous, combined with his ability to start attacks from the back has been a major factor in the Blues’ domination this season. He will, however, need to be at his best defensively to thwart Alexis.