Arsenal 4-0 Aston Villa: Gunners swallow Villa to defend FA Cup title

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Arsenal dominated from start to finish as they hoisted their second straight FA Cup trophy with a swarming 4-0 win at Wembley Stadium over Aston Villa.

Theo Walcott opened the scoring just before halftime to validate a dominant first 45 as an Alexis Sanchez screamer and Per Mertesacker header rounded things out in the second half.

Both sides showed an ability to get forward early on. After a few rash Villa tackles that earned Tom Cleverley a yellow and should have brought another for Benteke, the first real chance came to Arsenal as an Aelexis Sanchez cross reached Laurent Koscielny’s head, but 39-year-old Shay Given made an impressive save to keep it out. Then Aaron Ramsey nearly got a sliding chance on a Hector Bellerin cross but Jores Okore made a sliding 16th-minute stop.

The chances put Arsenal clearly in control, and it continued. Ramsey had another look but fired over on 20 minutes, and then Walcott had a point-blank shot blocked by Kieran Richardson. There were a few more half-chances over the next few minutes for the Gunners, but Aston Villa managed to weather the storm through the half-hour mark, albeit earning two more yellow cards in the process.

Arsenal finally broke through via Walcott after missing so many opportunities, and they grabbed the lead five minutes before halftime. A cross into the box fell to the head of Sanchez, and the Chilean pinged it back for the trailing Walcott who hammered a thumping drive into the back of the net.

Aston Villa came out of the halftime break with slightly more vigor than they showed in the first 45, but were still forced to defend a healthy amount. Just five minutes in, they’d strike again. Alexis Sanchez ran through the midfield and unleashed an absolute thunderbolt from a long way out, and the ball swerved its way into the back of the net to put the Gunners 2-0 up.

The second goal threw Villa on their heels yet again, and Arsenal powered forward as Cazorla tested Given yet again as the Irish goalkeeper saved again, but he would be powerless to stop Arsenal’s third. As the Gunners ramped up the pressure, Per Mertesacker beat Benteke in the air to head home a corner for Arsenal’s 3-0 lead. A fourth from Olivier Giroud just before the final whistle put the cherry on top.

The 4-0 scoreline is the largest margin of victory for an FA Cup final since 1994, and it gives Arsene Wenger his sixth FA Cup trophy, level with George Ramsay for the most all-time. With Arsenal’s win, Aston Villa fails to qualify for European play, with seventh-placed Southampton filling the final Europa League place instead. The win gives Arsenal three English trophies in the last two years after a previous stretch of nine years without a trophy.

LINEUPS

Arsenal: Szczesny, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil (Wilshere 77′), Alexis (Oxlade-Chamberlain 90′), Walcott (Giroud 77′).

Goals: Walcott 40′, Sanchez 50′, Mertesacker 62′, Giroud 90’+3

Aston Villa: Given, Hutton, Vlaar, Okore, Richardson (Bacuna 66′), Westwood (Sanchez 71′), Delph, Cleverley, Grealish, N’Zogbia (Agbonlahor 53′), Benteke.