Saturday 30 May 2015

Arsenal retains FA Cup; ...becomes first team to win the trophy 12 times

Arsenal have won the FA Cup for a record 12th time after beating Aston Villa 4-0 in a one-sided final at Wembley.

Theo Walcott volleyed the Gunners in front five minutes before the end of the first half in a game that they dominated from start to finish.

A stunning Alexis Sanchez shot just after the restart doubled the advantage, before a Per Mertesacker header on 62 minutes and substitute Olivier Giroud’s neat injury time flick secured victory over a very disappointing Villa side.

The Gunners started well and forced a succession of early corners, but were unable to test the returning Shay Given in the Villa goal was a glancing header from Laurent Koscielny which went well wide.

But the Republic of Ireland international had to be alert on the quarter hour mark to claw away a more accurate Koscielny effort, before Aaron Ramsey was inches wide after good work down the right by Hector Bellerin.

Ramsey then blazed over from the edge of the penalty area after Mesut Ozil’s cross had fallen nicely into his path.

Arsenal continued to dominate and Kieran Richardson was in the right place at the right time to block a goal-bound Walcott shot after a deflected Ozil cross found the former Southampton man six yards out.

The Gunners continued to press and finally got the goal their efforts deserved five minutes before the break.

Francis Cocquelin’s cultured cross-field pass picked out Nacho Monreal down the left whose cross was headed back across goal by Alexis Sanchez for Walcott to volley home from eight yards.

It was 2-0 five minutes after the restart as Sanchez found space 30 yards out and unleashed a swerving shot which deceived Given and crashed in off the crossbar.

Walcott had the ball in the net moments later, but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Given then produced a fine diving save deny Santi Cazorla as Arsenal looked to put the result beyond doubt.

But they didn’t have to wait long for a third as Mertesacker lost his marker in the penalty area to head in Cazorla’s corner from six yards.

Villa were stunned and offered little in terms of attacking threat, although substitute Gabriel Agbonlahor had a good shout for a penalty waved away by the referee after a mistimed Mertesacker challenge.

Jack Grealish, who had been quiet all afternoon as Arsenal won the midfield battle, might also have had a spot-kick after being pulled back by Bellerin five minutes from the end, but once again the referee was uninterested.

But Villa’s miserable afternoon was compounded in injury time as substitutes Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud combined for the Frenchman to flick the ball over Given from close range to make it 4-0 and secure a sixth FA Cup triumph for manager Arsene Wenger and a 12th in total for the north London club.  

Credit: Kieran O'Daly/Setanta Sport

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