Now THAT was a convincing cup final performance. It’s not something we always associate with the modern-day Arsenal considering the number of capitulations in important games, but Aston Villa were barely given a chance to impose themselves on the match – as Hull City had done 12 months earlier.
Arsene Wenger made a couple of contentious decisions with his selection that sent Arsenal fans into overdrive on twitter (via Bethut.co.uk), but Theo Walcott’s inclusion was certainly a wise one given his hat-trick last weekend and his ability to stretch defences with his frightening pace. Villa were continually on the back foot, and this created acres of space in midfield. It will certainly help Walcott feel like he is in the right environment to develop into a central striker, whether he remains there next season is another story.
Although Wojciech Szczesny’s name on the team sheet provided plenty of surprise considering his absence against West Bromwich Albion, the Pole was strong in the air and did away with any of his characteristic heart-in-mouth moments. Has he turned a corner? Again, we will have to wait until next season.
As the match got underway on Saturday, the first half was predominately played in Villa’s half, and you had a feeling that it could be one of those days when Shay Given began pulling off some fantastic stops. Keiran Richardson’s block on Walcott’s close range shot left me with a little angst as time started to wind down in the opening 45 minutes, but thankfully it didn’t last.
The Englishman buried it superbly with five minutes left before half time, a tidy left footed finish at an awkward height sending Wembley into raptures. The second half was a breeze thanks to Alexis Sanchez’s absolute worldy. What a class finish from the Chilean! We finished the job convincingly with two more tidy goals, and it made for a fantastic evening. Villa can feel hard done by with a couple of penalty shouts, but you hardly felt they would be able to claw their way back into the game.
The Gunners as a whole were magnificent. Players such as Mesut Özil, Santi Cazorla, and Francis Coquelin were superb, and it bodes well ahead of next season when you consider the wealth of options we have.
As many have said after Saturday’s victory, it’s time for Arsenal to take it to the next level, challenge for the title, and progress further in the Champions League. Back to back FA Cup wins is not an easy feat, but it’s consistency against the elite clubs that we require, and this season has been a step in the right direction. If Arsenal can add a fresh face or two, and the medical staff can keep our squad fit, it looks promising.
Let’s enjoy the moment however, Wilshere certainly is.. Good on ya lad.