LONDON, May 30- Arsenal beat Aston Villa 4-0 in Saturday’s FA Cup final. Here AFP Sports looks at five things we learned from the Wembley showdown:
Sanchez the main man:
Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez capped off a memorable first season for the Gunners with a typical performance of pace, power and skill illuminated by a stunning 25-yard strike to give his team a two-goal cushion.
Already a firm fan favourite, the former Barcelona man will be key to Arsenal’s fortunes next season.
Walcott makes case for central role:
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had been reluctant to play Theo Walcott in his preferred role spearheading the attack, but the gamble of moving him in from the wing paid off on Saturday.
The speedy 26-year-old menaced throughout and was unfortunate not to find the net before he eventually broke the deadlock on 40 minutes, giving his manager food for thought and serving notice to France’s Olivier Giroud that he has competition through the centre.
Grealish a work in progress:
Much of the pre-match talk revolved around Villa’s highly-rated 19-year-old Jack Grealish after he impressed on the big stage against Liverpool in the semi-final.
But the midfielder was tightly marked by Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin, and, despite occasional sparks, found it difficult to create any openings during Villa’s sporadic attacks.
Sherwood’s honeymoon period over:
Villa’s combative manager Tim Sherwood gained instant hero status after turning around relegation-threatened Villa’s league form and leading them to their first FA Cup final in 15 years.
But the team suffered a chastening end to the season with this defeat and questions about his tactical nous will only intensify after his team were comprehensively outplayed in Saturday’s drubbing.
Wenger hits on winning formula:
The outlook is much brighter for Arsene Wenger, who has silenced the critics by winning two FA Cups in as many years.
Having solidified the core of the team, the Frenchman has an embarrassment of attacking riches with which to launch a serious assault on the Premier League next season.