Arsenal became the first club in FA Cup history to win the competition for a record 13th time in their emphatic 2-1 victory over Chelsea, with the Gunners defying the odds and beating the newly crowned Premier League champions.
The cup final signals the end of English football for another season – so who were the real winners this campaign?
Chelsea [Premier League Winners]
After a calamitous start to his first season in charge, Antonio Conte was even being mooted as a potential first sacking of the season. Soundly defeated by Arsenal 3-0 in September, a shift to a back three system immediately rejuvenated their season and they went on an incredible run without conceding a goal until 26th November.
Chelsea recorded an incredible 30 league wins this season, most by any team in a single Premier league campaign, clinching the title with ease.
But they were aided by no European football distractions after an abysmal showing last season, while their EFL Cup run was over by October at the hands of West Ham United, and failure to beat Arsene Wenger’s side at Wembley meant they settled with just the Premier League – albeit the most difficult and prestigious accolade bar the Champions League.
It was a big step forward for Antonio Conte and his men, and they will be a real force in the Champions League next season as well in the Premier League race.
Manchester United [EFL Cup & Europa League Winners]
Jose Mourhino may have spent more months than he would have liked in sixth place in the Premier League, especially after splashing over £150million on players in the summer, but this season has been a sign of things to come under the Portuguese manager after two successful cup victories, with their Europa League triumph earning them a Champions League call-up next season.
Manchester United look set for more big spending this summer with rumours of an Antoine Griezmann transfer showing where their priorities lay and the calibre of players Mourinho wants to add to his side. Next season will be a big one.
Arsenal [FA Cup Winners]
Many predicted a Premier League and FA Cup double for Conte’s men, with the Gunners priced at a mere 18/5 by aceodds prior to kick-off. Anyone who did place a bet would have been shouting rounds after a resilient performance saw them, with a hint of fortune on their opening goal, defeat their London rivals for the second time in an FA Cup final.
No side has won the competition more times than Arsenal, while Wenger has become the competition’s most decorated manager with his seventh triumph.
But the question remains, where was this Arsenal throughout the rest of 2017? With a makeshift defence, these type of performances would have kept them well and truly in the title race however they had a February and March to forget after a dreadful run in all competitions except the FA Cup. A switch to a back three showed even Wenger can change his system, and it may well have to remain in place next season.
Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur & Liverpool [Champions League Qualification]
All Manchester City, Liverpool and Spurs ended the season without any silverware but earned a place in next season’s UCL competition, with Liverpool set to play in the playoffs in August.
That’s all they can take from the season with all failing to keep pace with Chelsea, Pep Guardiola will certainly be disappointed given his lofty standards with Barcelona and Bayern Munich before him.
Of the three, Tottenham will feel like they’ve progressed the most after some blistering performances that saw them net 13 goals in their last two games, however their woeful showing in Europe will be something they will target to improve on next season.
So the real winners? Of course Chelsea’s Premier League domination was hugely impressive especially as it was Conte’s first season in charge. Arsenal’s FA Cup win papered over the cracks which the Gunners will hope to rectify this summer on and off the field, but Manchester United’s European triumph and League Cup win is just a taster of what is to come from Mourinho’s men.
While plenty of managers and their sides underperformed this season, others have shown real promise. With a big summer ahead with plenty transfer sagas likely to see plenty of action in the market, next season will hope to prove an even more exciting Premier League competition.