FA Cup Final 2015
I'm John Thomas reporting live from Wembley Stadium for yet another cup final between two of English football's greatest powers. In barely minutes from now, Arsenal will contest Liverpool for the decorated FA Cup. The two sides already battled it out against each other in the Capital One Cup Final, where Liverpool took the cup home with a 3-1 win.
Having just won the title, Liverpool players are on a high and will be looking to end off their season with a perfect treble. Similarly, Arsenal, who finished a disappointing 6th in the table, will not want to be recognized as the team who participated in and lost two cup finals within a single season.
Arsenal started their run in the FA Cup shakily as Brentford forced a second game with a 0-0 draw, but the Gunners eventually rid themselves of their Championship opponents by crushing them 5-0 in the replay. They outclassed rivals Chelsea in the Fourth Round to advance, followed by Norwich in the Fifth Round after a replay. Wolves were brushed aside in the Sixth Round, and despite putting up a great fight, Queens Park Rangers were unable to overcome them in the Semi Finals.
: Ospina; Debuchy, Koscielny, Subotic, Gibbs; Ramsey, Diaby; Sanchez, Ozil, Cazorla; Welbeck
: Martinez, Chambers, Mertesacker, Wilshere, Campbell, Walcott, Giroud
An unfortunately-timed injury to usual first-choice Wojciech Szczęsny has forced Arsene Wenger to start the game with David Ospina and youth team keeper Damian Martinez on the bench. The manager might have also learned from his previous cup final experience, now choosing not to start any youngsters, as experienced players Mathieu Debuchy, Laurent Koscielny, Neven Subotic and Kieran Gibbs form the back four. He has also opted for a central midfield pairing of Abou Diaby and Aaron Ramsey, while Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla will attack from the wings, with Danny Welbeck up front supported by the talented Mesut Ozil.
Liverpool were awarded a fairly easy starting opponent in the form of York City. Breezing through the Third Round, as well as the Fourth and Fifth Rounds against Fulham and Wigan, they soon met a stumbling block against Southampton, who played brilliantly to cause the Sixth Round to be settled by a replay. They continued their form in the replay, only to be denied progress through the tournament thanks to a Mario Balotelli goal in extra time. West Bromwich also made Liverpool work in the Semi Finals, only to be blown apart by 3 goals in extra time.
: Mignolet; Clyne, Sakho, Skrtel, Moreno; Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling; Lallana, Coutinho; Balotelli
: Jones, Flanagan, Balanta, Lucas, Romero, Markovic, Lambert
The title-winning back four of Nathaniel Clyne, Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel, and Alberto Moreno has done no wrong this entire season and are thus unsurprisingly included in the starting eleven. Sitting in front of them is Steven Gerrard, who will hope to add a third FA Cup winner's medal to his trophy collection. Jordan Henderson starts in his central midfield position and will look to get balls up to the front three of Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana. Leading the line is Mario Balotelli, in the absence of Daniel Sturridge due to injury.
0' - And the FA Cup Final starts with the first kick of the ball! We are in for a great game.
1' - Arsenal already looking to be on the offensive, with the ball being swept up to Alexis Sanchez, who attempts to get a cross in, but it's intercepted and cleared by Martin Skrtel.
22' - But the first team to test a goalkeeper is inevitably Liverpool, after Philippe Coutinho plays a pinpoint pass for Raheem Sterling, who easily gets free of his marker and has an effort, but David Ospina makes a great save to deny the winger a goal.
45' - HT: Arsenal 0-0 Liverpool. Not the best of cup finals we've seen so far, but that will hopefully change in the second half.
45' - We kick off the second half after a largely uneventful first 45 minutes. Arsenal makes a half-time change with Olivier Giroud coming on for Danny Welbeck.
60' - A long throw-in into Arsenal's box by Nathaniel Clyne finds Adam Lallana, who makes a smart pass to the oncoming Coutinho. Liverpool's magician strikes it but Ospina is there to save the day once again.
David Ospina was called into action numerous times
61' - Arsenal attempt to launch a counter attack, but Mathieu Debuchy's right wing cross finds it's way into Simon Mignolet's hands instead of Giroud.
62' - The Gunners are undeterred as they keep possession, taking a leaf out of Liverpool's book as they display some passing football before finally hoofing the ball up to Sanchez, but the Chilean's soft strike at goal is comfortably stopped by Mignolet.
63' - Santi Cazorla, who has been completely ineffective today, is substituted for Joel Campbell to make his first FA Cup Final appearance.
69' - Mesut Ozil is the next to be switched out, as Jack Wilshere comes in to take his place.
71' - Balotelli receives a Raheem Sterling corner and heads it towards the net but Ospina refuses to be beaten, gathering the ball into his safe hands.
73' - GOAL! 0-1! Sterling in a great position made an amazing through pass to play in Coutinho, and the Brazilian seizes the opportunity to smash it in hard, giving his side the lead at a crucial time. Only 17 minutes left for Arsenal to find a response.
Philippe Coutinho points into the air as his goal gives Liverpool a slim 0-1 lead
75' - Liverpool make a double substitution, Adam Lallana comes off for Lazar Markovic, while Lucas Leiva replaces the excellent Steven Gerrard.
84' - PENALTY! Rushing to meet a Balotelli free kick, Sterling is blatantly knocked to the ground by Abou Diaby in the penalty box, and the referee contemplates for a moment before pointing to the spot.
85' - GOAL! 0-2! No problem for Balotelli as he finishes it in the right hand corner of the net.
Mario Balotelli is thrilled after his penalty manages to kill off the game for Liverpool
87' - With the game left in it's dying stages, Eder Alvarez Balanta comes on for Skrtel to provide a fresh face in Liverpool's defense.
90' - FT: Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool. Liverpool are your FA Cup winners this season and with the League Cup and Premier League title, they have completed a historic treble! Brendan Rodgers has well and truly built a flawless squad and the Liverpool lads will be partying through the night.