GiveMeSport Live from Wembley.
Theo Walcott will never make it as a striker and Alexis Sanchez can't settle the big games...they said. Well, on a fairly big occasion at Wembley Stadium this evening, Walcott and Sanchez provided us with a timely reminder of just what they're capable of.
Both players netted quite brilliantly as Arsenal retained the FA Cup and sent Villa packing with relative ease. Within the opening minute of the game, Walcott gave the Villa back-line a glimpse of what was to come, as he made a nuisance of himself, running in behind the likes of Ron Vlaar and Co.
Villa couldn't handle it from the word go, and they were given warning signs: Sanchez was playing himself into the game, while Walcott was getting in the right positions, with the Villa defence, Shay Given and the goal-line just about keeping him at bay in the early stages.
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In an opening dominant Arsenal half, Wenger's side took the lead, and it was Walcott who made the breakthrough. Walcott the predator, that is.
The England international has struggled for some time now: injuries, a lack of playing time and confidence have all hindered the player's progression over the course of the last couple of years, but he finally hit back at his critics in style.
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Walcott's crucial opener really was outstanding - with wonderful composure and class, the striker took the ball on the half volley to leave a desperate Given down and out. Unsurprisingly, Sanchez was involved in the build-up, as it was his header down that handed Walcott the ultimate opportunity.
If the Chilean was slightly involved in the first, then he was the sole provider of the second. Outside the box, he turned Tom Cleverley like he wasn't there to hit an absolute thunderbolt on his right foot. The ball flew past Given, hit the cross bar on the way in, and all but wrapped up another FA Cup trophy for the Gunners. That's five goals in three appearances at Wembley for the Chilean. Not bad going.
Per Mertesacker headed home Arsenal's third of the game, but Villa had all but given up by that point in the proceedings.
Walcott, though, could - and probably should - have scored more in this game. He was wrongly called offside in the second half as Given saved brilliantly, while he fired over when through on goal just before he was hauled off by Wenger when the game was ultimately over.
Every Arsenal fan - including the legendary Ian Wright - stood to applaud Walcott as he was replaced by Frenchman Olivier Giroud, who went on to score the Gunners' fourth, with 15 minutes to go. It was a day to remember for Walcott.
Sanchez, too, was replaced extremely late on, and much like Walcott, was given a wonderful reception from the Gunners faithful, who have enjoyed watching him ply his trade rather brilliantly all season long.
Walcott, along with Sanchez and the rest of the Arsenal team, were outstanding this evening, and they rightly went away with the plaudits and the cup.
One thing's for sure, though, plans will already be in place for next season. And if Sanchez and Walcott can continue to build their partnership and hit top form from the get-go, then Arsenal have a terrific chance of overhauling Chelsea as Premier League champions next term. A huge season for Arsenal awaits.
Arsenal fans: Are you excited by the Sanchez/Walcott relationship? Have your say in the comments section below!
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