So much has already been said about the Cup Final, but I just don’t get tired of reading about how glorious we were on Saturday, and I’m guessing that most Arsenal fans feel the same way. However in the interest of not repeating what’s already been said, I’ll go over why It all went wrong for Villa, as opposed to simply how excellent we were.
Villa didn’t turn up.
The thing that struck me the most about the entire game was how easy it all seemed. Villa simply didn’t show up. Perhaps it was the occasion, perhaps it was psychological, and (I’ll cover that later). Perhaps they simply couldn’t cope with us. It was probably a mixture of all three and more.
To have stood any chance against us they needed to come to Wembley with their A game. They needed us to show up with our E game and they needed a large slice of luck. They had none of those ingredients.
I’m not complaining at all. In fact I enjoyed the game so much more because I couldn’t see how they were going to get into it, and once the second goal, (Alexis’ rocket) went in I knew it was game over.
Tim Sherwood’s plan
His plan seemed to have been to soak up pressure and try to get the ball in the air to Benteke. The problem he had was that Benteke didn’t show up, and his players couldn’t get the ball to him. According to sky sports, Villa only managed to put 3 successful crosses into our box. They did nothing with their meagre return.
Credit has to go to the full backs for stopping attacks down the wing. Credit also goes to Coquelin and Cazorla, who helped out defensively as well as Ramsey and Theo/Alexis, who got stuck in when necessary too. At one stage in the game Villa were attacking down our right and had Bellerin, Coquelin & Ramsey in their way. It was a superb defensive team effort.
Mertesacker & Szczesny
Another huge reason that Benteke couldn’t do any damage was the towering figures of Mertesacker and Szczesny. You can have a good leap, but if your opposition defender has a 5 inch head start you’re going to struggle. Mertesacker didn’t just defend balls into the box he stopped Benteke winning flick-ons as well.
Szczesny claimed/punched away any ball that he could, and although there was one moment when he flapped, he also contributed to Benteke’s downfall.
Without service and without a chance even when he got service, Villa’s main goal threat, and their entire offensive plan disappeared. They had no plan B, and it showed.
At the other end of the pitch Villa had several goal threats to worry about, where we only had one.
One of the reasons Villa finished 17th, (just three points above the drop zone) and having conceded 57 goals is their inability to deal with pace. Tim Sherwood was probably hoping that Giroud would start up front. The inclusion of Theo Walcott from the kick-off ruined their defensive plan, and his ability to dovetail with Alexis resulted in the first goal.
Had Giroud started they would have been able to defend higher up the pitch, safe in the knowledge that he wouldn’t be able to run in behind. Theo & Alexis, (when they swapped positions) forced them back, which in turn created space between their defence and midfield for our playmakers. Giving Özil and Cazorla time and space to play was never going to work out well for Sherwood’s men.
I found Giroud’s goal interesting because it was a classic near post flick. I mentioned last week that their defenders would know to cover him at the near post. Every opposition defence has been doing it in recent weeks and he’s struggled as a result. The fact that nobody even attempted to keep tabs on him when he scored speaks volumes about Villa. Although they had most likely given up at that stage, it demonstrated to me that they hadn’t been paying enough attention to what their coaches had said. There is no way they weren’t warned about Giroud’s favoured runs. If a team isn’t listening to their coaches they’ll lose nine times out of ten. I fear for Villa next season. Teams that play us in the latter stages of the FA Cup have a tendency to get relegated soon after. (Wigan/Hull).
We beat Villa 3-0 at Villa Park and 5-0 at the Emirates. There must have been some major doubt in the minds of their players as to whether they could get a result. Added to that was our demonstration against West Brom of what we were capable of doing to a team with little ambition, and psychologically we had one hand on the trophy.
Overall 4-0 didn’t flatter us. We played some amazing football and Aston Villa were outfought, out thought and outclassed.