FROM the White Horse in 1923, to Ricky Villa’s dribble in 1981, all the way up to Alan Pardew’s dance last year – the FA Cup final evokes memories and moments like no other.
Players from Arsenal and Chelsea have the chance to write themselves into footballing folklore on Saturday, adding to the rich history of the oldest competition there is.
If the cup has been accused in recent years of losing its lustre, this season has given it a real shot in the arm.
Giant-killers Sutton United and Lincoln City fought their way past more glamourous opponents, with Lincoln becoming the first non-league side to reach the quarter-finals since 1914.
But it was the big boys who showed up for the semis at Wembley – Chelsea’s 4-2 win over Tottenham was an instant cup classic, while Arsenal’s extra-time victory over Manchester City was a nervy thriller.
Antonio Conte’s Blues come into the final as favourites – rightly so given their dominance so far this term.
Their 30 victories set a Premier League record for the most in a single season, and they finished 18 points ahead of their London rivals.
Conte can become just the third manager to win the double in his first season in England – the last was also an Italian at Chelsea, Carlo Ancelotti.
While he is approaching his first FA Cup final, opposite number Arsene Wenger is facing his eighth.
The long-serving Frenchman has admitted he “doesn’t know” whether this will be his last game in charge of the Gunners, and a win could be the perfect way to bow out.
Defeat, however, added to failure to qualify for the Champions League, and there may be no fairytale ending.
I think he’ll be left disappointed.
Chelsea have been ruthless this season, and I can’t see them letting up now.
The Blues are 4/5 with 188BET.
While Arsenal beat the Blues 3-0 in September, it was before Conte’s decisive tactical switch to a 3-4-3, and with the Gunners likely to field a makeshift defence, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa might smell blood.
The reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge was men against boys, and Chelsea could make Wenger’s side pay.
I’ll be buying total goals at 2.85 with Sporting Index.
Chelsea - 4/5 (188BET)
Buy total goals - 2.85 (Sporting Index)