1) A thoroughly convincing Arsenal FA cup final victory, who would have thought it? Did you ever imagine the game would be this straight forward before kick off?
@AlexRDownes - Honestly, I really believed we had the ability to absolutely smash them. I had it down for Theo to start and once I saw his name on the starting lineup, I knew we were going to mash them.
@Arsenal_RTs - It certainly was a welcomed change after last year, and much better for all our heart rates too! I was quietly confident that we would be able to put in a good performance however would it be 'one of those days' were we couldn't find the breakthrough, lucky that was only the case for 40 minutes.
@Goonerlicious - I was definitely not expecting that scoreline or that it would be that easy. If I’m not mistaken, Arsenal have never won a cup final by more than two goals? I also felt a touch of the Birminghams seeing as we beat Villa so convincingly home and away - as we did in 2011 with Birmingham… Oh f*ck me why did I have to bring that up? Sorry.
@shotta_gooner - Despite my optimism before every game, I did not foresee a thorough humiliation of Villa. With the progress this team has made over the past year, I was expecting a hard fought 2:0 victory. In fact the 1st half was entirely predictable to any Arsenal fan, the team creating chances and the Villans keeping us out with desperate defending. In retrospect, what was different today was Theo creating so much problems for them with his pace.
@stevemoore4116 - It was a toss-up this morning between believing that we could put in a performance like that, and the fear that we'd just repeat our recent dismal Wembley appearances. I always believed that, if we were at it, the game could well be over by halftime and, in truth, it could easily have been. Ultimately, the best Arsenal display in a final that I can recall.
@the_jersey_fitz – Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine the cup final would be that easy. I’m still not 100% sure it actually happened. There’s a decent chance that it is still Friday and we still have to play the final. I sure hope not though.
@TheTXI - I think if we all looked at the game objectively perhaps. This was a team we trounced 3-0 and 5-0 before the exit of Paul Lambert and while Tim Sherwood has gotten them to this point and with huge improvement in the form of Christian Benteke, they have still been capable of getting shelled due to their desire to be an attacking side. With that in mind we should have been a lot more confident, but you can't blame Arsenal fans for being a nervous wreck. Last year's final was several heart attacks in 120 minutes and in this match the prospect of Benteke climbing above our defenders and netting was a genuine threat.
2) We were all anticipating the team sheet before the game, what did you think at the time about the selections?
@AlexRDownes - Absolutely spot on. Theo's selection gave the team just the lift they needed. He tormented Villa defenders all day long. Also, Szczensy was fairly solid at the back. I hope he can mature for next season and be the GK we all know he could be.
@Arsenal_RTs - It didn't surprise me. Giroud hasn't been Wenger's 'Cup Striker' this season (or last) along with the performance Walcott put in last weeek it was to be expected, it would have been interesting if Welbeck was fully fit and who would have started then. On the other hand Szczesny has been the Cup goalkeeper this season.
Apart from that it was the lineup relied upon by Arsene in recent months. Having to leave Wilshere, The Ox, Giroud etc. on the bench was also a nice problem to have.
@Goonerlicious - I was very happy with the selection of Theo. After the goalless games I felt that starting Giroud would have made us a bit stale and predictable and that Theo would give the Villa defence more to think about. I wasn’t that bothered about the keeper, but I think that Szczesny still has a future at Arsenal, so I was happy for him to start, especially since he missed the last final.
@shotta_gooner - I was mildly surprised by Wenger starting Theo over Giroud. For me that was the only selection in doubt in the run-up to the game. By default I always trust the boss to make the right tactical decisions so I wasn't having any heartaches about who would be chosen. But in hindsight it was a masterstroke as it seem Sherwood and his team were not prepared for the problems Theo presents playing on the shoulder of the last defender and with the midfield and wide players sliding in balls to his feet. In fact up to minute 14, when Theo got his first real chance, I was a little worried because he was not too involved in the build-up play.
@stevemoore4116 - the choice between SZCZ and Ospina was very much 50/50, and AW may actually have lent towards SZCZ having selected Theo in a way. By taking Giroud's height out of the defensive equation, maybe Arsene thought he needed the taller of the two keepers, to help compensate at set pieces. Upfront, the right choice was made with the man in form.
@the_jersey_fitz – I was quite happy with the team sheet. I was shocked that Walcott was starting up top, but I was happy about it. I was also delighted that Wojciech Szczesny was selected over David Ospina. I thought his superior aerial ability would help to deal with the threat of Christian Benteke.
@TheTXI - The inclusion of Walcott wasn't necessarily a surprise but it did show that Wenger had a lot of faith in what he could offer our side based on his performance against West Brom. Szczesny in the back was more of a surprise since he didn't get any type of warm up at the end of the season. I felt...good...about our lineup. Nothing about it really made me go "what is he thinking?" And I am glad that it turned out to be very astute choices. Villa played into our hands and Walcott was an integral part of our fast-paced attack. Szczesny commanded his area very well and I felt he was a perfect option to play today due to the aerial prowess Benteke provided. Better to go up and get the ball before he has an opportunity to put it on target.
3) Who was your man of the match and why?
@AlexRDownes - This is probably the most difficult question. Ozil, Cazorla and Coquelin stole the show for me, but personally I thought Ozil had perhaps his best game in an Arsenal shirt yet. Considering the magnitude of the game, Ozil literally bossed the game in the first half in particular. He made several sublime passes and dribble passed Villa players like they were cones.
Santi was also immaculate for me. He is simply a master midfielder he was pulling the strings all game and it was understandable he won the official MOTM. Coquelin did what Coquelin does best, clean up and protect the back four. I don't think it's any coincidence that Villa didn't manage a shot all game. Their midfield was muted by Coq and co.
@Arsenal_RTs - Ozil. Pulled all the strings for Arsenal today.
@Goonerlicious - I watched the game on the pitch side screen at the Emirates so I didn’t have the chance to focus on the intricacies of our play today. I’ll give it to Alexis solely based on that goal, but I need to re-watch the game to have a more informed opinion about this one! What a strike by our Chilean magician by the way!
@shotta_gooner - Alexis was my man-of-the-match because he was the difference-maker with the outstanding quality of the goal he scored. Because of the time it came and the quality of the strike, in my opinion it had the most devastating impact on Villa's resistance. We had some outstanding performances by all the other starters but in the most important footballing statistic, goalscoring, Alexis is a difference-maker.
@stevemoore4116 - I'm a huge self confessed Ozil fan, and I thought he was on a different footballing planet today. His all round game was just sublime today, so he gets my man of the match. Having been there today, I will need to watch it back to evaluate Santi's performance, which ultimately earned him the award, but on a day like today, I'm happy enough for anyone to win it.
@the_jersey_fitz – Oh so many choices. So many fantastic performances, so many great moments. I’ll go with Mesut Ozil for the MOTM. He created chance after chance and showing his class throughout. There are so many good choices for MOTM, but I’m going to go with Ozil.
@TheTXI - Personally for me it was Mesut Ozil. There have been other games where he put up better statistics in terms of goals, assists, etc., but by half time you could tell that he was heads and shoulders the best player on the pitch and he never let up. Threading passes, finding open men, pressing and getting possession back, it was an amazing performance all around.
4) Any other honorable mentions?
@AlexRDownes - As Ozil was my first choice, Caz and Coq should also be mentioned.
@Arsenal_RTs- Almost everyone else, but Cazorla, Sanchez and Metresacker were particularity impressive and deserve a mention. However from Wenger, to the fans, to the plays, to the non playing staff Arsenal got everything right today!
@Goonerlicious - Santi got the man of the match award. His tricky feet never cease to delight me. I also thought that Mertecielny were on point today. They contained Benteke and were focused and commanding.
@shotta_gooner - Honorable mentions to the the midfield three of Ozil, Santi and Ramsey. Yes I know Rambo was nominally the right sided attacker but together with the other two they bossed the midfield. Those guys gave a masterclass in technique, dominating the ball in small in spaces and then pinging passes in wide areas or playing in attackers in the final-third.
@stevemoore4116 - where do you start? It was virtually a perfect performance and everyone acquitted themselves superbly. Sanchez for the goal and tireless work; Rambo for another all action display; Mertescielny for dealing so well with Benteke; Hector and Nacho for their solid defending and constant threat; Coq for being a human brick wall. Could go on and on.
@the_jersey_fitz – Yeah, just a few. Along with Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Alexis, Nacho Monreal, Francis Coquelin, Hector Bellerin, Per Mertesacker were all so good. Honestly, everyone was fantastic. I’m so happy I can say that.
@TheTXI - In all honesty you could put all other 13 players who participated today on an honorable mention list. Every single one of them came on and put in a good performance whether it was for 90 minutes or 5. Coquelin was an absolutely dominant force in the middle of the pitch and apparently saved up all of his tekkers for the final game of the season. Cazorla engineered a number of attacks going forward. Ramsey was a terror both on the right and the center. Walcott was a demon. Alexis notching both a wondergoal and an assist and being a general nuisance to anyone with the ball. Our entire back line was stout. I could go on and on. I'm massively proud of the entire side for their performance today.
5) Anyone disappoint?
@AlexRDownes - No one. None. Today we were pretty much perfect.
@Arsenal_RTs - No, I wouldn't give any of players below a 7/10 score!
@Goonerlicious - The Emirates PA for playing Arsenal Player commentary!
@shotta_gooner - I had no disappointments in those who played today. None of the starters had less than a 7 out of 10 performance contrary to the crap you read in the mainstream media with their mendacious rating of our players.
@stevemoore4116 - simple answer - No.
@the_jersey_fitz – I’d love to have a long, answer, but honestly all I can say is no. Like I said, everyone was fantastic.
@TheTXI - Christian Benteke, but I'm okay with that, and I imagine most Arsenal fans are okay with that as well. I don't think anyone on Arsenal was any bit disappointing.
I've heard some people complain about Walcott's wastefulness and propensity to be called offside, but I look at it like this: If Walcott is going to give us 5 clear cut goal scoring opportunities and only convert one of them, I'm okay with that. It's better than getting converting 0 opportunities out of 0 which we have dealt with several times when teams who pack the box and we don't have mobile threats up top.
6) What FA cup final did you enjoy more, this one or last season's victory?
@AlexRDownes - Last season's FA Cup win was more emotional for the manner we won it and the fact we hadn't won anything in so long. But today we went from believing we could win trophies to knowing we can. Today I enjoyed blasting the opposition away with proper football, sexy goals and strong defending. I now know we can go and win trophies consistently.
@Arsenal_RTs - As I said before; this year was better for our health, and seemed a lot less pressure on the club as a whole going into the match without the trophy drought looming over us , perhaps it was a more enjoyable watch this year, however not many goals will beat the pure jubilation after Ramsey's goal last year, that was a very special moment.
@Goonerlicious - The comeback last year was amazing, but I prefer a comfortable 4-0 every time. I think us gooners deserved a nice, easy cup final win after last year’s stressful final and not to mention those final day games at Newcastle and WBA to finish above Sp*rs.
@shotta_gooner - No doubt in my mind. I enjoyed this year's FA cup over last year's because there was less at stake. Last year there was too much hanging on the game; Arsene's future and legacy was on the line. This year, even his worse critic has to admit under his guidance we are back to challenging.
@stevemoore4116 - today's, without a shadow of a doubt. Last year was an absolute nightmare, and easily the most stressful game I've attended in my 32 years of going. Ultimately great, but I really didn't want to go through that again. Thankfully, it was hugely enjoyable today.
@the_jersey_fitz – I’d say I enjoyed minutes 1-89 more of this final, but I enjoyed the final whistle and the aftermath of last year more. The actual football match was infinitely more enjoyable this year, but the release of emotion and the relief of the end of the nine year drought was better last year.
@TheTXI - This season was a genuinely enjoyable experience from the opening to final whistle. It was a great day to be had. But last season was something else. We were all at the absolute lowest of lowest and then climbed to the highest of highs and then were on the edges of our seats to the very end. When the final whistle was blown I think it was one of the most cathartic moments we as a fan base have ever experienced (I'd put it up there likely with Anfield '89). Last year's win was much more important historically for us and I think the celebrations likely matched that magnitude.
But if we're just talking the most enjoyable to experience whistle to whistle, surely it had to be this year for the distinct lack of utter despair and depression that languished for 70 minutes of the match.
7) Have you seen enough of Theo Walcott as centre forward to be convinced that he can do a long term job there?
@AlexRDownes - He's shown he can with these last 2 performances. I think a good preseason with practice in that role and next season he could really become a top striker. I think he's earned enough merit to stop being played on the wings.
@Arsenal_RTs - I still prefer Walcott from wing, however that by no means he shouldn't play there at all, a lot depends on the opponent. Very much hope he Signs da Ting tho!
@Goonerlicious - I can only think of 3 good performances at CF - Sp*rs in the cup, WBA and today. I think it looks very promising for Theo. He makes intelligent runs that Özil will spot every day of the week and creates space for the likes of Sanchez.
@shotta_gooner - After today and his game vs West Brom, there should be no doubt Theo can do a job as a central striker. Between him and Giroud we have our plan A and B, horses for courses if you like. The pleasing thing is he is working on his dribbling. He had at least three successful dribbles. People easily forget that in 2012-13, Walcott finished the season with 14 goals and 12 assists from 32 Premier League games, mostly playing wide.
@stevemoore4116 - I've been a huge critic of Theo, as he can just be so frustrating. But the last few games have proven that he can do it upfront. Playing him there also eliminates one of his major weaknesses from the flank, which is his lack of tracking back. So in many ways, it's preferable to have him there.
@TheTXI - I think there is a lot of promise, but no I cannot say I am convinced he is the best long term solution. And one of the reasons for that is because I think he is still an absolute terror on the wing. I think he can be a good option in the middle (similar to how we deployed Welbeck when necessary), but if we're talking about Theo being our #1 up top I think we need more games to decide.
But I could be wrong. We very well could be seeing Theo finally blossoming into what he has always dreamed of being. And if we surround him (or Giroud) with the proper attacking threats, we finally may have our well rounded scoring offense.
8) How far do you think this squad can go next season?
@AlexRDownes - We honestly just need 1 or 2 additions and we will be definitely one of the favourites to win the league and more. We were seriously unlucky with injuries this year, but when you consider the fact that on our bench we had 2 amazing players we were without for a large portion of the season (Wilshere and Ox) you start to see that our team is a lot better than we've seen this season. With fitness comes competition for places. Add a striker and a top GK and a defender and we will be ready.
@Arsenal_RTs - We are going to need to strengthen over the summer, but every team are. With a couple of world class reinforcements we can push on and at least sustain a stronger title challenge. We certainly need to make a stronger start next season, however with the squad depth we have now hopefully we can.
@Goonerlicious - I think we will challenge for the league title but it will take a couple of signings and avoiding injuries to key players to win it. I think we will have a much more settled squad than Man United and Man City and will be best equipped to challenge Chelsea.
@shotta_gooner - It is obvious we can go all the way with this team based on the the 2nd half of the season, when almost all our best players returned from injury. We only need 12 more points next season to overhaul Chelsea's recent winning total, It is our losses and draws to lower and mid table teams that killed us. People think the Chavs smashed their way to a title but they only scored 8 more points over the previous year.
@stevemoore4116 - The current squad will likely be 2rd or 3rd next season. But, with a couple of additions, we'll go very, very close. Someone to compete with or complement Coq; one more top quality forward player, and I'd still go for a new keeper if an upgrade is available. Time for Arsene to be slightly ruthless maybe, but that could and should take us to that next level.
@the_jersey_fitz – I think this squad can at the very least challenge for the title. I do think we need either an upgrade at goalkeeper, or a revitalized Szczesny next season, as well as another defensive midfielder in the summer, but I think we can challenge for if not win the title next season.
@TheTXI - A healthy Arsenal that does not have any catastrophic chemistry problems (whether due to too many additions or too many exits) can genuinely challenge the likes of Chelsea for the title. We already have many of the pieces to be both destructive offensively and solid defensively.
I've never been one of those people who goes into the season and says "title or failure" because the league is too strong all around to just feel like you're entitled to a trophy because of your roster on paper. But...if we were to pull in a transfer class of say...Cech, Schneiderlin, Lacazette...my confidence levels in a true title push would be very high.
9) Any other thoughts?
@AlexRDownes - Arsene Wenger. What a manager we have. This season could've ended so badly, but somehow the man pulled it all together and now we are on the horizon of something truly wonderful. I think this is his best team in some time and he must be praised for bringing it together. One Arsene Wenger.
@Arseanl_RTs - A simply allround brilliant performance and day! Bring on the 2015-2016 season.
@shotta_gooner - The media is doing its best to undermine the significance of Arseal retaining the FA cup by turning this into a debate about whether this proves Arsene needs to buy 3 or 4 world class players to challenge for the title. Consider for a moment, that our subs today were players of the quality of Giroud, Wilshere and Chamberlain; how could there be an argument about whether we have strength in depth. Or that the newest members of the 1st-XI this year, in the form of of Coquelin and Bellerin, came from within and did not cost the club an extra penny; proving that there is quality within. Surely on the evidence of today the future is bright.
@stevemoore4116 - As poor as Villa were, we were simply unplayable today. A thoroughly enjoyable day, in a cracking, positive atmosphere. Time now for a beer!
@the_jersey_fitz – Back to back FA Cups and more than anyone else in history. GET IN THERE!!!
@TheTXI - ?What a way to end the season. Another trophy. Arsenal the most dominant club in FA Cup history. Arsene Wenger now tied with most decorated manager in FA Cup history. The summer should be full of good feelings and not too much stress (I hope). The positive end will be huge for several players whose futures with the club may have been in doubt and now may have more reason to remain. A great day for everyone. Now we push on.
Thanks to the great Gunners above for talking about the wonderful day yesterday. Get following them on Twitter and enjoy the rest during the pre season. UTA