All Gunners blazing in lopsided decider
IT was less an FA Cup final, more an exhibition.
Sometimes, the battered old competition provides a showcase end-of-season finale which reminds you of all that was once good about the English game.
On this occasion it simply demonstrated how far the elite have moved away from the rest and how implausible it sometimes seems even to consider matching them.
Only one of the clubs at Wembley had won the European Cup and yet, such are the finances of the Champions League era, that team barely had a kick.
Aston Villa couldn’t even harry and hustle Arsenal, who won 4-0.
At no stage did Villa disrupt their steady flow of passing. They did have a couple of marginal penalty claims, but for the most part it was desperate stuff. All they could do was stand back and admire.
It is hard to remember a more one-sided FA Cup final. Millwall lost to Manchester United 3-0 in 2004 but they were true underdogs, from what was then known as the First Division.
Chelsea’s 4-0 loss 21 years ago to United is probably the benchmark for humiliations of this size.
Neither Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, nor his Gunners should greatly care.
The club is celebrating a record 12th FA Cup win in the 143 years of the competition. Half of those have come under Wenger, himself equalling the record for a manager, an extraordinary achievement for the Frenchman who arrived almost unknown in the game 19 years ago.
Alexis Sanchez was simply magnificent and delivered a goal worthy of the famous old trophy. Santi Cazorla capped a wonderful season with a display of authority and grace.
Francis Coquelin, struggling at Charlton six months ago, was his willing partner in midfield. Theo Walcott missed a few but scored a delightful opener while Mesut Ozil mesmerised at will.
In every position that mattered, Arsenal were simply far better than their opponents. Only Villa goalkeeper Shay
Given might out- score his Arsenal counterpart Wojciech Szczesny, on account of the Pole having barely a save to make.
“I don’t know if it was my best final but it was a convincing one, because we were at it from the first to the last minute,” Wenger said.
“I never felt that the focus dropped or the quality dropped.”
Having ended a nine-year trophy hiatus with two FA Cups in two seasons, the Premier League title remains the acid test for Arsenal.
“Of course I think we can push on,” Wenger said.
“We have won the League in the past when we had the potential to do it and that’s what we want to do again.”