Arsenal outclass Aston Villa
Written By: Robert Halter
Aston Villa went into a huddle as Arsenal changed ends before kick off for the 2015 F.A. Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, end of May. In the third minute, Wojciech Szczesny dipped down to collect Alan Hutton’s looping shot on the right flank, after a ball across field from Villa’s captain, Fabian Delph. But four minutes later, Ron Vlaar had to divert behind a low cross from Santi Cazorla, after work down the left from Alexis Sanchez, and the Gunners quickly pressurised again with a rescue mission from Jores Okore, to keep out the advancing, Francis Coquelin, before a corner by Cazorla was met with a rising header from Laurent Koscielny, which flew over the crossbar. Although, Villa pressed again on twelve minutes, when Christian Benteke’s cross field pass was put into the box by Kieran Richardson on the left side, and Szczesny was forced to punch the ball clear while under threat from Benteke. But two minutes later, Shay Given was at full stretch to claw away Koscielny’s goal bound header, who had been played in by Sanchez from a Cazorla free kick, following a foul by Tom Cleverley on Nacho Monreal. Arsenal went close again on sixteen minutes when Hector Bellerin’s low cross on the right touch line, was forced into the side netting from Aaron Ramsey, who was out muscled by the challenge of Okore. Another chance went begging for Ramsey on nineteen minutes, when he fended off the marking of Vlaar, before ballooning the ball over, after Mesut Ozil had created the opening. Again, the Gunners nearly scored on twenty three minutes, when a desperate lunge at the ball by Richardson blocked a close range strike by Theo Walcott, after a cross by Ozil from Cazorla’s ball. Four minutes later, the hands of Given picked up a shot by Ramsey, after Walcott had found space. In the thirty first minute, through Cleverley’s ball over to Delph, from a inswining cross, Szczesny had to again marshal his defence as Benteke was well positioned in the area. Finally Arsenal got their just rewards on forty minutes when Coquelin orchestrated the move and as Walcott combined with Monreal, a header by Sanchez placed the ball perfectly for Walcott, who slammed the ball in, before racing away to celebrate in front of the Gunners fans behind the goal. A minute into the second half, Given held onto a tame strike by Ramsey, after a ball across by Cazorla. But there was nothing Given could do to stop a thunder bolt from Sanchez on fifty minutes, as the Chilean striker from long range struck a bending ball that went over the top of Given, before crashing into the net. It looked a lost cause for Villa, as manager Tim Sherwood replaced Charles N’Zogbia with Gabriel Agbonlahor. Five minutes later, Arsenal had Sanchez’s headed goal ruled out for offside after Walcott’s strike had cannoned against Given. Then a minute and a half later, Given turned away an instinctive first time shot by Cazorla, who latched onto Bellerin’s low cross. On the hour mark, Given had to charge from his box to hunt down Walcott, who had been played through from Ozil. But it was game over in the sixty second minute, as the Gunners captain, Per Mertesacker, headed home a Cazorla corner, to put Arsenal out of sight and Villa’s dreams in tatters. Another change was made by the claret and blue as Leandro Bacuna replaced Richardson but it was the yellow and blue of Arsenal that had their ribbons on the trophy, before Carlos Sanchez took over from Ashley Westwood for the last Villa change. On seventy five minutes, Ramsey put Walcott in the clear and after he blazed wide of the target, Olivier Giroud took his place while Jack Wilshere appeared for Ozil, and near the end, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Sanchez. The rout was completed in the third minute of stoppage time, as Oxlade-Chamberlain’s low right wing cross was tucked away by Giroud into Given’s near post corner for a resounding 4-0 victory to the Gunners, who retained the F.A. Cup for a consecutive season while winning the trophy on a record twelfth occasion.