I will always look back on this Cup final with a huge amount of pride.
That being said, Arsenal are arguably the most frustrating team to support in the world. An incredible team of international talent paired with a manager who, despite his critics, is a superb example of what all managers should try to be – not to mention the facilities, money available to spend and fan base. However, Arsenal in recent years have struggled to produce on the big occasions.
Yes, Arsenal won the FA Cup in 2014, but it took Hull to go 2-0 up and then they rallied. We’ve shown promise in the league but always come up very short against the big teams on the big stage. In short, when it comes to the crunch Arsenal tend to crumble.
This was different. This was an Arsenal side who has learned from the past, who were tough at the back but played with their normal flair and adventure. Key players played central roles throughout the game and didn’t go missing like in previous heavyweight encounters. OK, Arsenal were not pitted against a Chelsea or Manchester City, it was Aston Villa, but you can only beat what is put in front of you on the day and Arsenal did just that with a cold composure that is synonymous with champions.
Credit where it is due, Villa, who three months ago were staring down the barrel of the relegation cannon provided decent opposition considering they have had to rally so greatly in the weeks previous. The first half could have been a lot different had some decisions gone Aston Villa’s way. Tiredness played a big part in their performance too, having to deal with the raw pace of Arsenal’s front players heaped pressure on the flagging Villa midfield and defence.
Arsenal’s pressure and dominance were apparent from the off and despite some resolute defending from their opponents the inevitable first blood came just before half time, courtesy of Theo Walcott, who delivered the killer blow that would start the avalanche. The second goal will be remembered in FA Cup folklore for years to come, Alexis Sanchez’s shot was a world class strike from a world class player, who was simply putting the icing on the cake for a fantastic season. Per Mertersacker and Olivier Giroud added to Arsenal’s haul to bring the to tally to 4-0. A final score that did not flatter the Gunners.
Arsenal have filled me with an enormous sense of pride and given me a huge amount of hope. As a fan it is hard not to dream of challenging for the title next year, but time will tell. Is this the Arsenal of new?
If you’d like to explore a tactile picture of Arsenal’s Club badge with its famous Gunners logo then borrow Football: all the glory of the game from our free postal library. We also have an exclusive interview between Arsenal defender, Carl Jenkinson, and comedian/actor, Alan Davies, on our YouTube channel.