Arsenal have retained the FA Cup in a dominating performance that saw them beat Aston Villa by four goals.
The first half was an all-Arsenal affair. Aston Villa got to kick things off and from there it was obvious that they were in trouble. Despite having their preferred midfield of Ashley Westwood, Tom Cleverley, Fabian Delph, and Jack Grealish, Aston Villa were entirely unable to get anything going in the middle of the pitch thanks to suffocating pressure from Arsenal. There were at least three instances in the first half hour that could have seen Arsenal score. Oddly, Villa's man of the match was left back Kieran Richardson, who was crucial in stopping multiple Arsenal efforts.
But the goal was coming and in the 40th minute Arsenal finally broke through. Theo Walcott passed to Nacho Monreal who sent in a desperate cross to to Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean headed the ball back to where Villa defenders should have been, but instead was wide open space. A criminally unmarked Walcott charged in and struck a powerful half volley past Shay Given's near post. With the way the half played out, Villa were lucky to go into halftime only down by one goal.
It took only five minutes in the second half for Arsenal to double their goal. After a quick bit of play, Alexis Sanchez took a long strike from about 25 yards out that pinged off of the bottom of the bar and into the goal. It looked patently obvious that the gunners had no intention of giving up the momentum they had spent the first half building.
In the 62nd minute, Arsenal were able to put an end to any realistic hope left in Aston Villa fans. Per Mertesacker was able to use his height advantage to head home a corner and give Arsenal a 3-0 lead that certainly appeared insurmountable. And insurmountable it was. Villa never threatened and Olivier Giroud sealed the win with a 93rd minute goal to make it 4-0, which is how it would end.
Throughout the day, Villa had no answer for Arsenal. In the rare instances when they were able to get the ball forward, the only thing Villa would do was send the ball in to Christian Benteke's head. Every single other player looked terrified to take a shot, and with Wojciech Szczesny bossing the Arsenal box, there was no chance the plan was ever going to work. But, it should be noted: this match was not simply about Villa playing poorly. While they certainly did, Arsenal played a brilliant match that would have given any club trouble. Credit should be given where it's due, and Arsenal deserve plenty of it.
Maybe in a week or so we'll look back at the FA Cup run and smile. It was unexpected and it was the one bright spot in a terrible season. But for now, after watching Villa not show up for their biggest match in more than a decade, it's hard to feel anything but anger.