Category Archive: FA Cup

FA Cup News

May 27

Aaron Ramsey fires Arsenal to FA Cup final win over 10-man Chelsea

Amid all the euphoria for Arsenal, there are bound to be people who wonder if these might also have been the ideal circumstances for Arsène Wenger to announce he was stepping aside and assure himself of a happy ending. His team had won, thrillingly, against the champions of England, making Wenger the most successful manager in the history of this competition. It was his seventh victory and, whatever his faults, a man with that record of achievement surely warrants the opportunity to go out on a high.

Equally, these are the moments when Wenger must be reminded what it is about football that makes it so addictive. It is not easy kicking the habit, particularly on the days when everything falls into place and this for Arsenal was undoubtedly one of them. They picked a good time to put in their best performance of the season, denying Chelsea the double on a day when Victor Moses joined the list of players to suffer the indignity of being shown a red card in an FA Cup final. Moses had collected two second-half bookings and the fact the second one came from a choreographed attempt to win a penalty probably summed up the state to which Arsenal reduced their opponents.

Related: ‘No one gave us a chance here, and we responded,’ says Arséne Wenger

Related: N’Golo Kanté’s unusual mistake shows up careless Chelsea in FA Cup final | Paul Wilson

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May 27

‘A football novel is never simply about football’

A history of the genre, from early boys’ school stories to modern fiction, to celebrate FA Cup final day

When did writing about football become a respectable activity? In 1992, the year in which Nick Hornby produced Fever Pitch, his trail-blazing account of a fraught quarter-century spent following Arsenal? Or 1993, when Hornby assembled a collection of essays (My Favourite Year) and thereby authenticated the work of what became known as the “soccerati” – broadsheet-haunting literary lads whose partiality for, say, Newcastle United was as strong as their hankering for Proust or Norman Mailer? Or maybe 1996, when a Sunday newspaper persuaded a be-scarfed AS Byatt to attend an England game at the Euros? Or even 1997, which brought the unveiling of Simon Kuper’s distinctly up-market football bi-annual, whose influence was out of all proportion to its brief lifespan (four issues, 1997-99) and meagre sales, and those involved included Roddy Doyle, Harry Pearson and Jim White?

The question of respectability is more important than it sounds: even in the mid-90s, when arts journalists were falling over themselves to unpick the aesthetic tapestry of the beautiful game, a faint air of snobbery hung over the depiction of football in print. In a novel or a short story, the scent of pained disparagement grew stronger still. Twenty years ago, for example, I published a novel whose sub-plot took in the misfortunes of a struggling west London football club named Walham Town. Among other stabs at verisimilitude, it ran to faithful reproductions of the kind of chants then issuing from the terraces at lower-league grounds. There followed a correspondence in the TLS over whether the Walham fans would actually have yelled the words “XYZ is a homosexual” and whether the stress would have been on the first or second O.

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May 26

Manchester’s city games begin but events around UK are cancelled

Great CityGames get under way, but some concerts – as well as Chelsea FC’s victory parade – have been cancelled in wake of bombing atrocity

Manchester’s Great CityGames began as scheduled on Friday with the women’s pole vault kicking off events in Albert Square, where days earlier thousands had gathered for a vigil following the terror attack on Manchester Arena.

Speaking near the 200m running track set up on Deansgate, a major thoroughfare that leads towards the arena, the Olympic hurdles medallist and BBC commentator Colin Jackson said it was right that the event went ahead.

Related: ‘Go sing with the angels’: families pay tribute to Manchester victims

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May 26

Arsène Wenger drops Petr Cech and gives David Ospina nod for FA Cup final

• Cech devastated to miss showpiece
• Per Mertesacker expected to play in back three

Petr Cech has been dropped by Arsène Wenger for the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday and David Ospina will make a surprise start in goal. Cech is devastated by the decision. It was thought that he suffered a slight knock in training but he is now ready to take his place on the bench.

Wenger has had to mix and match at the back in the face of selection problems and he will ask Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is fit again after hamstring trouble, to step in at left wing-back in his 3-4-2-1 formation. Hector Bellerín will continue at right wing-back. The left-back, Kieran Gibbs, has been struggling with a thigh problem.

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Apr 23

The Dozen: the weekend’s best Premier League and FA Cup photos

Your weekend roundup of the best photography from the FA Cup and England’s top flight

Follow us on Instagram for more great sports photography

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Apr 23

Antonio Conte’s new guard maintain Chelsea’s fighting spirit of old | Jacob Steinberg

Eden Hazard and co have a softer edge than their predecessors but proved against Tottenham that they can stand firm despite losing the likes of John Terry

Told all week that this game would define the title race, the moment when the balance of power would swing Tottenham Hotspur’s way, a less durable team than Chelsea might have responded to Dele Alli’s splendid equaliser shortly after half-time by crumbling. On another day, it would have been in the script. Tottenham, brilliant and refreshing, were on top. They were surely going to reach the FA Cup final. Then they were going to win the league.

But even when Chelsea were on the ropes, to doubt them in the moments before Eden Hazard’s decisive cameo was to fail to understand them. There is something about this club. For all the nouveau riche jibes and accusations of artificially bought success that have flown their way ever since Roman Abramovich spotted Stamford Bridge from his helicopter 14 years ago, and for all the managerial changes and bouts of dressing-room insurrection that have often made them look like a textbook case of everything that is wrong with modern football, there is also an inner toughness running through Chelsea that allows them to rebel, stand firm, trust in themselves and emerge a little battered, a little bruised, but ultimately unscathed.

Related: Chelsea’s Antonio Conte the tactical werewolf bares teeth and bites Spurs | Barney Ronay

Related: Tottenham produce moments of magic but can’t rewrite the new Wembley script | David Hytner

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Apr 23

Imperial age of Manchester City yet to dawn despite Pep Guardiola’s arrival | Paul Doyle

When City’s owners acquired one of the world’s elite coaches, they will have envisaged an era of domination – not a scramble to finish in the top four

In a gripping, weirdly unpolished contest, traces of the residual class City’s veteran campaigners possess were not enough to uplift a malformed team. Yaya Touré, Vincent Kompany and Sergio Agüero tried to lead the way but did not quite have the verve to do so, nor did they have the support that they should have had from City’s younger thrusters. So far, Pep Guardiola’s City have failed to straddle two eras while meeting the highest demands. A club with vast riches, some of which were spent hiring the prestigious coach, did not imagine ending the season empty-handed.

Six years ago, in another FA Cup semi-final at this venue, Touré heralded the rise of City by taking advantage of a mistake by Michael Carrick to score the winning goal against Manchester United and book a return to Wembley for the final. He then repeated the feat, firing into the net to demolish Stoke City’s dreams and deliver City’s first major honour in more than 30 years.

Related: Alexis Sánchez gives Arsenal extra edge to sink Manchester City in semi

Related: Arsène Wenger hails Arsenal’s mental strength after reaching FA Cup final

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Apr 23

Wenger proud of his Arsenal players after FA Cup win over Manchester City – video

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger hails the mental strength of his players after his side came from behind to beat Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Sunday. He also says he is pleased for the club’s fans after a turbulent few months. City boss Pep Guardiola meanwhile is left to rue what might have been

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Apr 23

Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City: FA Cup semi-final player ratings

Alexis Sánchez made up for an otherwise quiet performance with Arsenal’s extra-time winner, but Jesús Navas and Gaël Clichy were poor for City at full-back

GK Petr Cech 6/10 Saved crucially from Touré but should he have been out to Agüero a little more quickly when the striker seemed to overrun the ball?

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Apr 23

Arsène Wenger and Arsenal enjoy rare day of happiness in fraught times | Amy Lawrence

The manager gets his tactics right and the players rediscover their fighting spirit to see off Manchester City at Wembley to secure a place in the FA Cup final

Just for a moment, unfettered by the constricting context of this turbulent season and the grisly dance around the topic of that contract, the sun broke through. Arsène Wenger stood in his technical area and the body language all around him was positive. Gabriel Paulista – a player apparently reborn during the course of the match – won another battle of wills with the threatening Leroy Sané. Mesut Özil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain shared a boosting handshake as they passed each other on the pitch. The German juggled the ball casually as he waited to restart the game. Behind them, the Arsenal supporters waved their flags and basked in the glow of the goal from Alexis Sánchez that eventually put their team into yet another FA Cup final.

In that pause in the match nothing much mattered apart from the fact that for once just about everyone associated with Arsenal looked happy. The possibility, the hope, that all football clubs need at a very basic level, opened up. There are still big conversations to be had but that’s for another day.

Related: Arsène Wenger hails Arsenal’s mental strength after reaching FA Cup final

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Apr 23

Arsène Wenger hails Arsenal’s mental strength after reaching FA Cup final

• Wenger: ‘I am very proud for the players. They showed a united response’
• Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola vows ‘next season we will be strong’

Arsène Wenger praised Arsenal’s players for banishing doubts about their mental strength by coming from behind to beat Manchester City at Wembley and set up an FA Cup final with Chelsea.

Things looked ominous for Wenger’s men when Sergio Agüero fired City into the lead midway through the second half of the semi-final but Nacho Monreal equalised to take the match to extra time. Alexis Sánchez pounced in the 101st minute to score a winning goal and preserve Arsenal’s hopes of ending a tumultuous season with a trophy.

Related: Alexis Sánchez gives Arsenal extra edge to sink Manchester City in semi

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Apr 23

Alexis Sánchez gives Arsenal extra edge to sink Manchester City in semi

It has not been an easy season for Arsène Wenger by any measure but it will at least have the possibility of a happy ending and, once again, he can look forward to an FA Cup final. It will be the eighth of his 20 years at Arsenal and it is probably worth remembering, amid all the criticism that comes his way, that he has won six of the previous seven. Or, to put it another way, his personal total amounts to the same number Leeds United, Sunderland, West Ham United and Leicester City have managed altogether.

Wenger is also outnumbering Manchester City, who have won the competition five times, and the fact it will be Arsenal taking on Chelsea on 27 May amounts to a personal ordeal for Pep Guardiola given what it means for his first season in charge of Manchester City. The Catalan’s arrival was supposed to make City credible challengers for every trophy going, starting with the Champions League. In reality, they have gone out at the first knockout stage in Europe, they managed only two games in the EFL Cup and now their latest disappointment comes at a time when they are fourth in the table.

Related: Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City: FA Cup semi-final – as it happened

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Apr 23

Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City: FA Cup semi-final – as it happened

Arsenal will play Chelsea in the FA Cup final thanks to Nacho Monreal’s equaliser and Alexis Sanchez’s extra-time winner

5.49pm BST

Report from Wembley:

Related: Alexis Sánchez gives Arsenal extra edge to sink Manchester City in semi

5.38pm BST

It’s Arsenal’s day. A rare joyous moment for Arsene Wenger in the context of this season and a win that might just give him the encouragement he needs to sign that new contract. They’re into the FA Cup final, where they’ll face Chelsea, and they’re there because they showed spirit to recover from a goal down. Nacho Monreal and Alexis Sanchez scored the goals and Arsenal were dogged enough to hold out in the end. As for Manchester City, their first season under Pep Guardiola is fizzling out. Their last chance of a trophy has gone and they face a fight to hold off Manchester United in the fight for the top four now. They’re a point above United and host them on Thursday night. Thanks for reading and emailing. Bye!

5.33pm BST

That’s it! Arsenal are in the FA Cup final thanks to Alexis Sanchez’s winner! Oh, Pep.

5.32pm BST

ET 30 min: Iheanacho’s offside. Arsenal have to hold on for one minute.

5.30pm BST

ET 29 min: Francis Coquelin replaces Mesut Ozil.

5.30pm BST

ET 28 min: Toure curls one wide from 20 yards. The Arsenal fans let out a relieved cheer.

5.29pm BST

ET 27 min: Toure can’t stop giving the ball away.

5.27pm BST

ET 25 min: Otamendi’s booked for clumping Ramsey’s heels.

5.26pm BST

ET 24 min: Navas slips a pass through to De Bruyne, whose cross shot slithers across the face of goal. The Belgian looks anguished.

5.25pm BST

ET 23 min: City have Arsenal pinned back at the moment, but Guardiola’s men are running out of time. “Anyone remember that first hour when this game was, pardon my French, naff?” says Matt Loten. “Me neither. These teams might not have the refinement of Chelsea or Spurs, but this has turned into a cracking watch.” It’s so flawed, though, both midfields leaving much to be desired.

5.23pm BST

ET 21 min: All of a sudden, De Bruyne romps through the middle, Arsenal all over the shop. He tees up Delph to his left, but the slightest of blocks from Bellerin takes the midfielder’s shot into the side netting. Some City fans think it’s in. It’s not. City still have a corner here, but Iheanacho heads wide.

5.21pm BST

ET 19 min: Toure’s free-kick is straight into the wall.

5.20pm BST

ET 18 min: In a deeper position now, De Bruyne slips a pass through to Iheanacho, who can’t take the ball with him. Arsenal survive. But it’s not long before they concede a free-kick 25 yards out. It’s to the left of the D and Toure fancies his chances.

5.18pm BST

ET 17 min: Delph shots well wide from 25 yards. “Bellerin’s hair is a clear example of the dysfunction at Arsenal,” says Matthew Carpenter-Arevalo.

5.17pm BST

ET 16 min: City get the final period underway. Iheanacho has come on for the wretched Sterling, City using the fourth sub granted to them in extra-time.

5.16pm BST

The officials want Manchester City to get out there, but a manic Pep Guardiola is still doling out instructions. Kelechi Iheanacho is coming on for Raheem Sterling.

5.15pm BST

Arsenal are 15 minutes away from another FA Cup final and I’m not sure how Manchester City get themselves out of this mess.

5.14pm BST

ET 15 min+2: Danny Welbeck should wrap it up, only to head Ozil’s cross wide from close range. Xhaka was also booked for that nonsense with Delph.

5.13pm BST

ET 15 min+1: Hector Bellerin replaces Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Bellerin has cornrows. Okay.

5.12pm BST

ET 15 min: Craig Pawson has to sort out a melee, with Fabian Delph losing his cool after being manhandled by Xhaka. The City midfielder’s booked.

5.11pm BST

ET 14 min: With the outside of his right foot, De Bruyne finds Sterling on the right. He tries to set up Sane, but Holding diverts it behind for a corner, which comes to nothing.

5.09pm BST

ET 12 min: Sane’s been booked for dissent. How are City going to score without a striker on the pitch? Over to you, Fabian Delph.

5.09pm BST

Mesut Ozil dinks the free-kick to the far post. It’s nodded down and although Danny Welbeck misses his kick, Alexis Sanchez gathers the loose ball and bundles it past Bravo from close range! Arsenal lead!

5.07pm BST

ET 10 min: This looks like Arsenal’s game to win. City are increasingly underwhelming. They’ve lacked intelligence and personality. Welbeck wins a free-kick deep on the left, Kompany clumsily bringing him down. And…

5.06pm BST

ET 9 min: Manchester City make a double change, Fabian Delph replacing Sergio Aguero and Fernando replacing Fernandinho. Kevin De Bruyne has moved up front.

5.04pm BST

ET 7 min: Ozil sends the corner to the near post from the right, but the unmarked Holding heads just over. What a miss. Fernandinho’s down, meanwhile, and Fabian Delph is going to come on.

5.03pm BST

ET 6 min: Welbeck, threatening since his introduction, robs Fernandinho, then bustles to the byline on the right. His cross is blocked. It comes to Sanchez. He settles for a corner.

5.01pm BST

ET 5 min: Glenn Hoddle’s wondering whether Claudio Bravo will take a penalty for Manchester City.

4.59pm BST

ET 3 min: After a hypnotic City passing move, De Bruyne tries to feed Sane, but he takes it out of play.

4.58pm BST

ET 1 min: This is the third time I’ve been taken to extra-time this week. Arsenal get us underway. Guardiola doesn’t have many game-changing options on the bench. Kelechi Iheanacho is there. The others are defensive players. Wenger can still call upon Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi.

4.51pm BST

We shall have extra-time.

4.48pm BST

90 min: There will be three added minutes. “Yeah, tis a pity Chelsea and Tottenham weren’t kept apart in the semi final draw,” says Simon McMahon. “Then we might have had a final for the ages, rather than a semi final. As it is, it’s hard to see either of these sides giving the Chelsea management and players sleepless nights.”

4.46pm BST

89 min: De Bruyne’s booked for a cynical trip on Sanchez. City are a weirdly slow team without Silva. They aren’t incisive enough.

4.44pm BST

86 min: Welbeck, using his pace, gallops after a long pass down the right channel. He takes on Otamendi, beats the Argentinian slightly fortuitously, then bends a shot inches past the far post when he could have set up Ramsey or Sanchez for a tap-in. Ramsey and Sanchez are fuming.

4.43pm BST

85 min: Otamendi and Fernandinho get in each other’s way and a high ball drops to Welbeck. He moves it on to Ozil, but Navas covers when he tries to find Ramsey.

4.40pm BST

83 min: Danny Welbeck replaces Olivier Giroud.

4.40pm BST

82 min: De Bruyne slides a pass to Sane on the left. The sliding Gabriel concedes a corner with an important challenge. De Bruyne lifts the corner to the far post and Fernandinho smacks a header against the bar! City have hit the woodwork again! The ball bounces back to Navas, who fires wide from 20 yards.

4.38pm BST

81 min: Ozil hares down the right, into the area, but he wants to come back on to his left foot and Otamendi stops him.

4.37pm BST

79 min: Yaya Toure hits the post! He started the move with a powerful surge through the middle. He found Sterling, whose weak shot was blocked and flew to Toure, who adjusted his body before hooking a low volley from 25 yards towards the bottom right corner. But Cech redeemed himself by feather the ball on to the base of the post and to safety!

4.35pm BST

78 min: Navas knocks a pass straight out of play. City have been poor since half-time.

4.31pm BST

74 min: Chelsea must be having a good old chuckle at the thought of playing one of these two in the final.

4.30pm BST

73 min: Arsenal’s fans are doing the Poznan.

4.30pm BST

From wing-back to wing-back. Oxlade-Chamberlain swings a fantastic cross to the far post from the right. Navas is outnumbered and Monreal, culpable in Aguero’s goal, arrives unmarked to hammer a low volley past Bravo with his right foot! What a response from Arsenal! Manchester City, though. They can’t defend.

4.28pm BST

70 min: Monreal win a corner for Arsenal on the left. Ozil takes it. But City aren’t in any particular danger.

4.26pm BST

69 min: Fernandinho’s booked for bringing Xhaka down.

4.26pm BST

67 min: Monreal hoicks a cross into the City area. Nothing doing. Arsenal had improved since half-time, but they have to show more invention and ability in the final third.

4.23pm BST

65 min: Against the run of play, then, Manchester City lead. But Arsenal look to hit back immediately and City look panicky at the back. The ball reaches Ozil on the edge of the area. He has a clear sight of goal after taking a touch, but screws his low shot wide!

4.22pm BST

This is wonderful opportunism from Sergio Aguero, a strange goal, but a piece of fine finishing from the Manchester City striker. The Arsenal corner was half cleared and Aaron Ramsey tried to beat Yaya Toure. To no avail. Toure robbed him, looked up and sprayed a pass over the top to Aguero. Nacho Monreal was the only Arsenal defender back. I don’t know why. They’re Arsenal. Aguero has the pace to get away, even when it looks like Monreal’s reeling him in. He takes a heavy final touch and it seems that the ball’s there for Cech to win. But the Arsenal goalkeeper’s slow to react and when he does advance, Aguero dinks it over him with the outside of his right foot.

4.20pm BST

61 min: City make a dog’s dinner of a four course meal on their edge of the area, Fernandinho blundering. Giroud menaces in the air, but it’s hastily knocked behind for a corner. And…

4.17pm BST

59 min: It’s all Arsenal at the moment, not that anything of any note’s happening. But the game’s being played in City’s half at the moment. City can barely string two passes together.

4.16pm BST

58 min: This has been the kind of game that makes it easier to understand why the Premier League has no participants in the Champions League semi-finals.

4.14pm BST

57 min: Sane teases Oxlade-Chamberlain on the left and leaves him on his backside before teeing up Sterling, whose scuffed effort’s blocked.

4.13pm BST

54 min: In significant news for both of these teams, Manchester United have won 2-0 at Burnley. They’re six points ahead of Arsenal, who have a game in hand, and a point behind City, who they visit on Thursday. Meanwhile Claudio Bravo is doing some interesting things and increasingly has the look of a goalkeeper who’s about to make a howling comedy error.

4.11pm BST

53 min: The free-kick’s pulled back to the edge of the area, where Xhaka’s in an ocean of space. His low sidefooter’s deflected wide. From the corner, Holding threatens, but Kompany defends solidly.

4.10pm BST

52 min: Sanchez turns adroitly on the left, leaving two City players for dead, and Fernandinho pushes him over on the edge of the area. Arsenal have started promisingly.

4.08pm BST

51 min: De Bruyne’s corner is headed down and wide by Otamendi.

4.08pm BST

50 min: Holding needlessly concedes a corner on the right, slicing behind when it was easier to knock the ball out for a throw.

4.06pm BST

48 min: Arsenal counter down the right, Ozil linking with Oxlade-Chamberlain. The ball’s lofted to the far post, Giroud challenges with Kompany and tries to knock it down for Ramsey. City concede a corner. It’s headed away.

4.04pm BST

46 min: Manchester City get the second half underway. Let’s hope it’s better than the first. “Is there any obscure law which can nullify this semifinal and let Spurs face Chelsea again in the final?” says Gary P. “Quality of football was of entirely different scale yesterday and Spurs deserve so much more to be in the final than any if these two ‘attractive’ teams.”

3.48pm BST

Half-time reading: Christopher Thomond’s FA Cup photo essay.

Related: FA Cup photo essay – road to Wembley, quarter-final: Middlesbrough v Manchester City

3.47pm BST


3.47pm BST

45 min+1: Koscielny bumps De Bruyne over to the right of the Arsenal area. This has been a scrappy, dirty game.De Bruyne manages to hit the one-man Arsenal wall with his free-kick, which pretty much sums up this half.

3.46pm BST

45 min: Oxlade-Chamberlain flings the free-kick to the far post. It always looks like it’s drifting behind, but Arsenal scream for a penalty when Navas tugs Sanchez back. Craig Pawson ignores their appeals.

3.45pm BST

44 min: De Bruyne handles on the left. Arsenal win a free-kick. They’re getting a lot of set-pieces. Perhaps Wenger’s learnt something from his recent defeats to Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis.

3.43pm BST

41 min: On the touchline, Guardiola is full of grievances. It’s difficult not to sympathise with the Manchester City manager. He’s seen the officials deny his team a strong penalty claim and rule out a seemingly valid goal.

3.42pm BST

40 min: De Bruyne slips a pass through to Sane on the left. Sane manages to reach it before it runs behind and chips a cross over Cech. It reaches Aguero at the far post and he hammers it goalwards. Cech pushes it out – it looks like it’s over the line – but Sterling is on hand to volley home the rebound. City think they’ve scored. But they haven’t. The linesman’s flag is up. He thinks Sane went out before coming back in. It’s very tight. The replays suggest that the whole of the ball hadn’t gone out. Arsenal have got lucky here.

3.39pm BST

39 min: Giroud wins a free-kick for Arsenal on the left, going down as he challenges for the ball in the air with Kompany. Oxlade-Chamberlain knocks it in, Bravo flaps, but players are offside in the middle.

3.38pm BST

38 min: Aguero manages his first shot of the game, but he arrows it into the side netting from a tight angle on the right.

3.36pm BST

36 min: This game hasn’t really taken off yet. It’s not at the level of yesterday’s semi-final.

3.34pm BST

33 min: Aguero’s down after taking a knee to the back from Koscielny. Why is it that teams always think they have to kick Arsenal off the park?

3.32pm BST

31 min: Sane skedaddles to the byline on the left. Oxlade-Chamberlain concedes a corner. City take it short and end up on the halfway line.

3.29pm BST

29 min: Toure drives forward and prods a pass through to Aguero, who turns away from Oxlade-Chamberlain before going down in the area. The replays shows that Oxlade-Chamberlain tripped him from behind, accidentally but arguably illegally. That could easily have been a penalty to Manchester City, even if it would have been a soft one.

3.28pm BST

27 min: City continue to dominate possession. Arsenal are being outnumbered in the middle. They’ll want to sort that out.

3.26pm BST

26 min: De Bruyne’s deep free-kick is headed back into the middle by Toure. Arsenal get it away as far as Sterling, who loops a volley wide. Cech didn’t look bothered.

3.25pm BST

25 min: Sanchez slides to reach a loose ball and brings Fernandinho down on the right. He’s booked, arguably harshly.

3.24pm BST

23 min: David Silva, unable to shake off that knee injury and mightily miffed with Gabriel for the foul that caused it, is replaced by Raheem Sterling.

3.23pm BST

22 min: A free-kick to Arsenal on the right, Kompany tripping Ozil. It’s sent in by Ozil and headed away to the edge of the area. Giroud knocks it back into the danger zone and Koscielny volleys past Bravo, but the flag is up for offside. Koscielny was miles offside.

3.22pm BST

21 min: There’s a suggestion that Silva’s hobbling a little bit, which might be a legacy of that earlier foul by Gabriel. Raheem Sterling’s warming up. Silva’s been in conversation with Guardiola.

3.20pm BST

20 min: Possession: Arsenal 32%-68% Manchester City. Hoddle reckons Arsenal’s three centre-backs have to improve on the ball.

3.19pm BST

18 min: Navas’s low cross from the right runs all the way to Clichy on the edge of the area. He takes a touch before shooting with his right foot. I won’t insult your intelligence.

3.17pm BST

17 min: Arsenal struggle to clear their lines, Xhaka taking a chance on the left, and they end up conceding a free-kick. De Bruyne lifts it to the far post, but Kompany can’t do anything with it. He reckons it should be a corner, but he’s not getting one.

3.16pm BST

15 min: Oxlade-Chamberlain attacks down the right for the first time, easily beating Sane and crossing into the middle. Giroud’s unmarked, but he directs his header straight at Bravo, who makes an actual save. City counter through Aguero on the right. He stabs a cross towards the far post and Silva, of all people, nods it towards the top corner, forcing Cech to tip it over. Nothing comes from the corner.

3.15pm BST

14 min: Otamendi pings a diagonal pass towards Aguero on the right. Aguero tries to nod it down for the onrushing De Bruyne, but Cech gathers.

3.13pm BST

12 min: Arsenal scheme for the first time on the edge of the City area, Sanchez nutmegging De Bruyne and feeding Ozil on the left. His cross is scooped clear by Kompany, Toure completes the job and Gabriel fouls Silva.

3.11pm BST

10 min: This is quite the farce, De Bruyne colliding with a dozy linesman as he tries to take City’s corner on the right. Whoops. Eventually the linesman gets out of the way and we go again. De Bruyne whips the corner in, but the whistle blows for a foul in the middle.

3.10pm BST

9 min: It might not surprise you to learn that City are seeing most of the ball. Space opens up for Silva for the first time and Arsenal are in trouble. Silva slides a peach of a pass through to Aguero, but his first touch invites a challenge from Koscielny, who foils him. Corner to city.

3.07pm BST

6 min: It’s been a fairly cagey start. We’d already had a zinger from Willian by this point in yesterday’s semi-final. But these two sides are feeling their way into this one.

3.06pm BST

5 min: Navas has a dash up the right, but his cross is cleared. I might place that sentence on file. “Non-partisan cheer of the day – good to see Vincent Kompany upright, on both legs, and looking ready to play football,” says Charles Antaki.

3.03pm BST

3 min: Sane drifts inside from the left, De Bruyne drifts inside from the right. Sane finds De Bruyne, who decides to have an early sighter from 25 yards. He cuts across his shot, though, and it fizzes harmlessly wide.

3.03pm BST

2 min: Glenn Hoddle is one of the pundits on BT Sport this afternoon. I suppose he approves of a back three, having used one with England at the 1998 World Cup.

3.01pm BST

And we’re off! Arsenal, in their red and white, get the game underway, kicking from right to left in the first half. Manchester City are in light blue and the atmosphere inside sunny Wembley sounds rather terrific.

2.58pm BST

The teams are out. The man with the microphone is screaming into it and loud music is pumping, because fans must not be allowed to let the atmosphere grow organically.

2.40pm BST

Son Heung-Min struggled at left wing-back for Tottenham yesterday, giving away a penalty rashly. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain seems more suited to the wing-back role than the South Korean, in theory, but his defensive qualities are sure to be put to the test by Leroy Sane on the left. Sane has scored two in two games against Arsenal this season.

2.37pm BST

“Slightly awkward,” says Hugh Molloy. “Arsenal had a back 3 when Wenger arrived and he even kept it for a bit. I can however confirm that Tony Adams had never eaten (or heard of) broccoli pre 1996.”

Ah, but when is a back three not a back three but a back five?

2.28pm BST

Arsenal stick with their revolutionary use of a back three. First Arsene Wenger brings broccoli, pasta, mineral water and sit-ups to the club, now a new formation. Will wonders never cease? Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Nacho Monreal are his Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso, his Kyle Walker and, er, Son Heung-Min. Up front, it’s Olivier Giroud instead of Theo Walcott.

Manchester City opt for a touch of control over pace. At the Emirates a few weeks ago, Pep Guardiola seemed to blunder by replacing Raheem Sterling with Yaya Toure at half-time; City no longer carried the same threat on the break and Kevin de Bruyne wasn’t quite as dangerous on the right as he was in the middle. But Guardiola has opted for that set-up from the start here. Toure joins Fernandinho in central midfield, De Bruyne starts on the right and Sterling starts on the bench. So does Willy Caballero. Shot-stopping’s Claudio Bravo’s between the sticks and he’ll be protected by Vincent Kompany, starting for for the third time in four matches.

2.05pm BST

Manchester City: Bravo; Navas, Kompan, Otamendi, Clichy; Fernandinho, Toure; De Bruyne, Silva, Sane; Aguero. Subs: Caballero, Zabaleta, Fernando, Kolarov, Delph, Sterling, Iheanacho.

Arsenal: Cech; Gabriel, Koscielny, Holding; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Xhaka, Monreal; Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud. Subs: Martinez, Bellerin, Gibbs, Coquelin, Iwobi, Walcott, Welbeck.

1.30pm BST

It’s been 19 years since Arsene Wenger’s first FA Cup semi-final. Christopher Wreh, a man who once delivered a performance so bad that he became a substituted substitute, scored the only goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers as Arsenal continued their relentless push towards the Double. What a visionary Wenger was back in 1998. Wreh’s goal was created by a driving run from Patrick Vieira, an unheralded £3.5m signing from Milan who had formed an awesome Gallic midfield partnership with the no less mysterious Emmanuel Petit. Now Granit Xhaka struggles to live up to his £35m fee in Arsenal’s midfield. Things aren’t as they once were in north London.

That win over Wolves back in April 1998 kept Arsenal rolling. Manchester United, weighed down by injuries and indifferent form during the spring months, were in their sights. Wenger was the foreign genius, Le Professeur, finally a worthy adversary for Sir Alex Ferguson. Arsenal won the title with two games to spare when they walloped Everton 4-0 – Tony Adams, put through by Steve Bould, would you believe it? – and a fortnight later they beat Newcastle 2-0 at Wembley thanks to goals from Marc Overmars and Nicolas Anelka. Arsene appeared to know.

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Apr 23

FA Cup photo essay – road to Wembley, quarter-final: Middlesbrough v Manchester City

Guardian photographer Christopher Thomond is documenting one game from each round of the 2016-17 FA Cup, and in the quarter-final he was back at the Riverside for the clash between Middlesbrough and Manchester City

Check out Chris’ FA Cup Road To Wembley project so far

On match days it’s really, really busy and you can’t move in here so you’ve got to be down early to grab a place and get some hot food – Carli McNaught

We’ve been coming to watch City since we were 11. My dad used to take us to Maine Road.

The FA Cup’s all about enjoyment. We’ve come to a great stadium, a great part of England so let’s enjoy it and hope we progress. – City fan Paul Sellars

This is George’s fourth game and he’s following the FA Cup this year. We used tin foil and an old cardboard box with a few stickers. This is our first ever effort as you can probably tell but if we get through to the final we’ll upgrade to a better version – Boro fan Mark Sainsbury

We can get a goal in the second half. Perhaps it will go to penalties. I think class wise, City were better than we were. We stood off them a bit at first but we are getting stuck in to them a bit now. Really we did well for them not to get more than one. I think Negredo will score and get us out of this though – Mother and daughter Linda Richardson and Claire Cartwright at half-time

We got Silva’s shirt, it’s for my lad. Brilliant. The guy’s class. It feels like…THAT is the best feeling in the world. We’ve just watched him…phew what a player that guy is. What a gentleman, what a player. Absolutely fantastic. It means so much to us. He had such a good game and he makes it look so easy. He’s the best player I’ve ever seen in a Manchester City shirt. He creates things, he makes space, he’s a wizard – City fan Karl Dovison

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Apr 23

Tottenham produce moments of magic but can’t rewrite the new Wembley script | David Hytner

Spurs fans delight in skills of Harry Kane and Dele Alli but have their dreams shattered again by Antonio Conte’s streetwise Chelsea

The script for Tottenham Hotspur at what must be referred to as the new Wembley stadium has taken on a standard feel. They arrive with great expectations and leave with their dreams in tatters.

They had defeated Chelsea in the 2008 League Cup final but, before this visit, it was eight appearances and a single win – and that was the largely meaningless one against CSKA Moscow in the final Champions League group phase tie earlier this season.

Related: Eden Hazard clinches semi-final thriller for Chelsea against Tottenham

Related: Chelsea’s Antonio Conte the tactical werewolf bares teeth and bites Spurs | Barney Ronay

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Apr 22

FA Cup semi-final win gives Chelsea momentum in title race, says Conte – video

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is thrilled after watching his side beat Tottenham 4-2 in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday. The Italian believes that the victory can provide Chelsea with some momentum in the Premier League title race. Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino meanwhile reflects that he is proud of his team’s effort despite the loss

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