Record 12th FA Cup final victory for Arsenal

Goals from Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez, Per Mertesacker and Olivier Giroud underlined the gulf in class between the Gunners and a Villa side which narrowly avoided relegation from the English Premier League this season.

Tim Sherwood’s underdogs might have entertained hopes of an upset, but could merely muster a shot on target as Arsenal dominated from the kickoff.

Only some inspired goalkeeping from Shay Given and errant Arsenal finishing kept the scoreline level until just before the interval when Walcott struck.

The England international, whose career was put on hold by a serious injury in an FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur last season, was given the nod over Oliver Giroud by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and repaid his faith.

Alexis Sanchez won a header inside the Villa penalty area and Walcott reacted quickly to volley home emphatically.

Magical strikeChile’s Sanchez effectively ended the match as a contest just after the break when his magical strike from outside the area left Given flapping at thin air.

German international Mertesacker added a third, heading home when left unmarked at a corner, Sherwood left to shake his head on the Villa bench.

Walcott, returning to his best after the injury layoff, left the field to a rapturous reception and his replacement Giroud duly scored a late fourth.

Wenger, winning his sixth FA Cup as a manager, said he had picked Walcott because of the usual defensive line-up deployed by Villa.

“I thought his pace would be a problem because they play a high line. We were dangerous,” said the Frenchman.

The victory took Arsenal out of a tie for 11 wins with arch rival Manchester United, but for Wenger the quality of the performance was what mattered.

“It was convincing because we were at it from the first to the last minute,” he added.

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