The FA Cup Sponsored by E.On Semi Final
The FA Cup Sponsored by E.On Semi Final
Arsenal 1 - 2 Chelsea
Didier Drogba was Chelsea's hero at Wembley once more as he scored the winner to send the Blues back to the FA Cup Final at the expense of an Arsenal side who had taken an early lead through Theo Walcott.
In an open game of numerous chances it was the Gunners who drew first blood as Walcott volleyed past Cech, assisted by a deflection, before Florent Malouda drove home an equaliser. With six minutes remaining Drogba won it for the Blues as he rounded Fabianski and finished from a narrow angle to send Chelsea back to Wembley in six weeks time.
Chelsea came close to scoring early on as Didier Drogba capitalised on the indecision at the heart of Arsenal's defence to head goalwards, only to see Kieran Gibbs race back and clear from the goal line. John Terry's long pass had evaded Toure and Silvestre, and with Fabianski advancing Drogba thought he had opened the scoring but for the intervention of Gibbs.
Theo Walcott was enjoying the freedom of Aresnal's right flank as he battled with England teammate Ashley Cole, while Febregas, Denilson and Diaby contested the central midfield area for the Gunners who began the game with Adebayor the lone forward.
Chelsea's threat came through central areas while Arsenal's intricate passing allowed room for the wide players in Walcott and Van Persie to thrive, and after 18 minutes that lead to the opening goal.
Just as he did in the League Cup final in 2007, Theo Walcott struck first against Chelsea although a deflection from former Gunner Ashley Cole played a significant part in the shot evading Petr Cech. Adebayor fed the overlapping Gibbs who lifted lifted his cross over both Alex and Terry to the far post where Walcott arrived bang on cue to fimly volley the ball towards the bottom corner.
Guus Hiddink's side conceded the first goal just as they had done at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday against Liverpool, but showing their strength of character once more Chelsea clawed their way back into a game Arsenal had begun so brightly.
Gradually the power shifted to Chelsea and as the pressure grew on a less experienced Arsenal defence, Florent Malouda struc an equaliser just 14 minutes after Hiddink's side had gone behind.
Receiving a raking cross field pass from Frank Lampard, the French winger cut in on his less favoured right foot and drove the ball inside Fabianski's near post. Four minutes later Abou Diaby tried one touch too many in his own penalty area and Nicolas Anelka stole the ball and cracked the foot of the post with a left footed effort.
Arsenal were pegged back by losing their advantage but after Anelka had struck the post they did not look like conceding again in the first half, and went into the break in the ascendancy once again.
The interval did nothing to abate the open nature of the match as both sides showed unrelenting ambition to win the game. Both teams attacked with verve and desire, but contributing to the chances at either end was a nervousness and lack of conviction in both defences.
Van Persie was inches away from reaching a devilish cross from Walcott as the pendulum swung one way and then the other, and moments later Diaby went close again from the supply that Arsenal's number 14 was delivering from the right flank.
Chelsea were dangerous particularly with Lampard arriving late into the area, the Chelsea midfielder volleyed wide from a Drogba cross. Minutes later Chelsea had claims for a penalty turned down as Silvestre appeared to touch the ball with his arm.
Drogba turned the game on it's head with a fantastic piece of skill to give Chelsea the lead with just six minutes left. Lampard lofted the ball over Silvestre and Drogba rounded the onrushing Fabianski before slotting the ball into an emtpty net.
Andrey Arshavin almost rescued Arsenal in injury time, chesting down the ball at the far post the Russian forward guided the ball towards the bottom corner but Alex was equal to it and turned it away for a corner.
Arsenal tried but ultimately Chelsea, the winners of the first Final at the new Wembley two years ago, booked their place back here on Saturday 30 May.