Alexis Sanchez lifts Arsenal to new heights against Villa

Saturday 30 May 2015
Alexis Sanchez leaps to celebrate his sensational strike
Arsenal are the most-decorated side in FA Cup history after cruising to their 12th title with a 4-0 win over Aston Villa.

Arsene Wenger’s side barely had to get out of third gear to dispatch Aston Villa, who were a shadow of the team that schooled Liverpool in the semi-final.

Arsenal 4-0 Aston Villa

The FA Cup Final
Wembley Stadium connected by EE
Saturday 30 May 2015

At least a packed Wembley Stadium was treated to a goal of startling quality – one of those ‘I was there moments’ – when Alexis Sanchez defied physics to thunder home the second goal of the game.

The Chilean’s scorcher was sandwiched by a driven finish from striker-for-the-day Theo Walcott and a header from Per Mertesacker, while substitute Olivier Giroud netted during stoppage time on a day when the Gunners had too much firepower.

Villa’s Cup pedigree should not be overlooked – they have won it seven times – but their last trip to the Royal Box came in 1957 and the wait goes on.

At least they could claim to have fans in high places – with HRH Duke of Cambridge waiting to present the winning side with the trophy.

The question before kick-off was which Villa would turn up – the Jack Grealish-inspired group that flourished as soon as Tim Sherwood took over in January, or the soft-centred group that caved in as soon as Premier League safety was secured.

Sadly for the passionate claret and blue throng in the west half of Wembley it was the latter, and Arsenal’s dominance was clear from the start.

Arsenal made continual headway down the flanks, with Sanchez often pulling wide and exchanging passes with the excellent Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil.

Shay Given, playing in his first Cup Final in 17 years, was under constant threat, and had belied his 39 years on 13 minutes with an acrobatic leap to palm away a Sanchez header.

Aaron Ramsey then headed over from a Sanchez cross after Fabian Delph was caught with the ball in midfield. 

The attacks continued without success until the 39th minute, when Nacho Monreal overlapped on the left and sent a deep cross into the area.

Sanchez showed spring and steel to win the ball in the air against Ron Vlaar, and as it landed in the six-yard box, Walcott was on hand to rifle home.

Villa looked a different side shortly after the break, with Grealish finally spending some time on the ball, but their hopes were punctured with a goal of astonishing quality.

Sanchez found the ball in the left-hand channel around 25 yards from goal, and under close attention from the Villa defence, stumbled towards the touchline.

But the former Barcelona forward somehow twisted his body in the opposite direction to face goal before firing a fearsome shot into the roof of the net.

Tim Sherwood tried to add some impetus to a sleepwalking side by introducing Gabriel Agbonlahor in place of Charles N’zogbia, but the wave of Arsenal attacks continued.

Walcott darted through the middle to latch on to a Cazorla through-ball, only denied at the last by Okore, making a passing impression of a wardrobe on rollerskates.

Mertesacker added the third on the hour mark, easily heading home a Cazorla corner, and all but ending Villa’s resistance.

Then deep into added time Giroud turned an easy victory into a drubbing, flicking a Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s near-post cross past the blameless Given with the outside of his boot.

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): 1 Wojciech Sczcesny; 39 Hector Bellerin, 4 Per Mertesacker (captain), 6 Laurent Koscielny, 18 Nacho Monreal; 34 Francis Coquelin, 19 Santi Cazorla; 16 Aaron Ramsey, 11 Mesut Ozil, 17 Alexis Sanchez; 14 Theo Walcott. 

Substitutes: 10 Jack Wilshere for Ozil 77, 12 Olivier Giroud for Giroud 77, 15 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Sanchez 90.

Substitutes not used: 13 David Ospina, 3 Kieran Gibbs, 5 Gabriel, 20 Mathieu Flamini.

Goals: Walcott 40, Sanchez 50, Mertesacker 71, Giroud 90.

Manager: Arsene Wenger.

Aston Villa (4-3-2-1): 31 Shay Given; 21 Alan Hutton, 5 Jores Okore, 4 Ron Vlaar, 18 Kieran Richardson; 8 Tom Cleverley, 16 Fabian Delph, 15 Ashley Westwood; 28 Charles N'Zogbia, 40 Jack Grealish; 20 Christian Benteke.

Substitutes:11 Gabriel Agbonlahor for N’Zogbia 52, 7 Leandro Bacuna for Richardson 68, 24 Carlos Sanchez for Westwood 70. 

Substitutes not used: 1 Brad Guzan, 2 Nathan Baker, 9 Scott Sinclair, 12 Joe Cole.

Bookings: Hutton, Cleverley, Delph, Westwood, Agbonlahor.

Manager: Tim Sherwood.

Referee: Jon Moss.

Assistant referees: Darren England and Simon Bennett

Fourth official: Craig Pawson.

Reserve assistant referee: Harry Lennard. 

Attendance: 89,283

By James Callow Content manager At Wembley Stadium connected by EE