Saturday, May 30, 2015

It Happened in England: Arsenal cruise to record 12th FA Cup

Aston Villa 0-4 Arsenal
Last year, Arsenal strolled into the FA Cup Final against Hull City and slept through the first half and were down 2-0 before the pitch was even dry from the pregame watering. They ended up coming back to win 3-2 in extra time, but the start left a lot to be desired. Thankfully for them, they left nothing to debate this time around.

Right from the get go they ruled this match with an iron fist, or a cast iron cannon, I suppose.

They got their first golden chance of the game in the 24th minute when Theo Walcott collected a Mesut Ozil cross and blasted the shot on goal, only Kieran Richardson's heroic and lucky block prevented it from going in.

Walcott would eventually get his goal to make it one-nil to the Arsenal in the 40th minute. It started with a cross from Nacho Monreal that found the head of Alexis Sanchez. The header went up in the air and backwards where Walcott came charging on to boot it on the half volley and quickly past Shay Given. That 1-0 scoreline would make to to halftime, but it was far from the end of the assault.

Sanchez collected the goal of the match five minutes into the second half. He launched a screaming shot that made Given look helpless as it caromed off the bar and into the back of the net. In the 62nd, Per Mertesacker got free from his marker on a corner for an easy header to notch goal number three. It was certainly over at that point, but, just for fun, Olivier Giroud scored an easy tap in as the last action before Arsenal's 12 FA Cup became official.

I was expecting an Arsenal win, but I would be kidding myself if I were expecting a blowout like this. I didn't exactly want another thriller like last tear's final against Hull (that was a little too intense for my fandom to take), but it would have been nice if Aston Villa had decided to get off the train and walk into Wembley to actually play a match. Calling them non-existent would be giving them too much credit. They were no contest for Arsenal, who are in top form, but shouldn't be winning 4-0 in a cup final.

A lot of the prematch criticism surrounded Villa's choice of goalkeeper. The decided to go with Shay Given over the American Brad Guzan, and it came back to hurt them. Guzan may have stopped the first goal, maybe put up an effort on the second, and maybe even gotten to the third. Given wasn't the only goat for the Villains, but he was probably the biggest/

I could talk about how well Arsenal played, how they got goals from four different players, and were just plain dominant. But, in reality, the story was just how awful Villa was. Arsenal keeper Wojciech Sczcesny may well have not been there. Villa only took two shots. Two shots. Over ninety minutes. And none of them were on goal. It was pretty pathetic really.

Regardless, congratulations go Arsenal on the record 12th FA Cup. They surpass Manchester United, who has 11, with this victory and into the English history books. Their run to get their wasn't extremely tough. The only real test was the trip to Old Trafford in March where they came out with a thrilling 2-1 win. After going nine years without any trophies, Arsenal now has two in as many years. Now they look to retool for 2015-16 and take a shot at the real prize, their first league title since 2004.

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