So the domestic season is over. The final game played in the FA Cup and, whilst it wasn’t the most exciting game ever, it was certainly interesting.
Both sides will have learned things about themselves (once the hangovers have cleared) that they will no doubt be endeavouring to improve before next season.
But what did we, the viewers, find out about each side:
1. Theo Walcott has a left foot
A complaint that many fans had about Theo was his complete lack of a left foot. He has pace to burn, an eye for a run and can beat a man for fun, but he only ever played with his right foot (and even then he needed a few bites of the apple before tucking a goal away). Yesterday we saw him have some great chances but be thwarted by some great last ditch defending, before a half-volley sat up for him to smash through the back of the net. For him to have the confidence to take it on his weaker foot speaks volumes.
2. Tim Sherwood was let down by his side
Despite his connection with Tottenham Hotspur, I have huge respect for Tim Sherwood. He has a history of wearing his heart on his sleeve and a hallmark of his teams is they leave everything on the pitch, but Aston Villa did not do that yesterday. They barely even showed up. With the exception of Fabian Delph and their entire back five, Sherwood should have torn through the team in yesterday’s debrief. They let themselves, their manager and their fans down in a huge way.
3. Arsène Wenger still has the tactical nous to unlock a tricky side
The Gunners were battering Aston Villa but could not get the breakthrough. Walcott and Aaron Ramsey had shot after shot but couldn’t get the goal. Cue a switch to the left for Walcott and within 10 mins it was one-nil to the Arsenal. Sanchez took his place in the middle and, with an absolute screamer, made it two-nil. Then it was pretty much game over for the Birmingham club.
4. Christian Benteke doesn’t like big defenders
Let me make this clear: I rate Benteke. He is a big lad with a big talent but at Wembley, against Arsenal’s enforcer Per Mertesacker, he had a shocker. I actually cannot remember a single time he bested the big German.
5. Francis Coquelin is the missing link in the Arsenal midfield
The young Frenchman had a quiet game yesterday but that was simply because there was so little for him to do. When he was called on he had a solid game: tackling when he needed to, linking defence and midfield with Santi Cazorla and building attacks for the team, he was disciplined and played a huge part in the win for the Gunners.
6. Fabian Delph will probably leave in the summer
Let’s face it, Delph is a huge talent. A huge, ENGLISH talent, which immediately puts him in a massive shop window. Arsenal themselves are after a player of this type with Cazorla entering his 30s, and who would blame Delph for leaving a club he has given 6 seasons to.
7. Mesut Özil may have finally come to terms with the Premier League
Last year after Arsenal won the FA Cup he left the field early. I was concerned by this as I felt he didn’t have any commitment to the club after some lacklustre performances. To his credit he came out in the summer and said he was not happy with himself. He felt he had much more to give and he was right. He has been much improved for me this season and is looking like he might be ready to pay back his club record transfer fee. He went in the players’ tunnel with the rest of the team this time.
8. Alexis Sanchez was the buy of the season
At £35m there were some questions raised about the amount of money spent on someone who was apparently surplus to requirements at Barcelona. Any football fan will tell you now, there are no questions over that fee. He was a bargain. His performances this season has been immense and, at Wembley, he was no different. He played the full ninety minutes and he ran all over the pitch for pretty much all of it. Topped his game off with an absolute pearl of a goal and the evidence is there to see: Sanchez is world class and will help the North London club win trophies.
9. Santi Cazorla is finally getting the respect he deserves
For a few years now Cazorla has been turning in performance after performance. The headlines were always about Theo Walcott or Jack Wilshere or Robin van Persie (before he deserted us for Man United’s physio table) but Santi Cazorla has been quietly chipping away and impressing us with his talent. This season has been a much more successful season for him personally and, after a Man of The Match turn on the big stage at Wembley, the plaudits are now coming his way.
10. The Villa Hierarchy Need to Invest
Tim Sherwood deserves a good team to manage; a team with as much fire and heart as he himself has. There was some desire on show yesterday, no doubt, but whether the occasion got to his team or they simply didn’t have the will to win the manager deserves better from his side. On yesterday’s evidence the only way he will get better is if Villa buy better. Randy Lerner is apparently in talks to sell the club so, for any prospective new owner, the task is simple: keep the players you have and add better ones to them.
All the above may sound simple and we know it isn’t always as simple as it appears (in fact, it almost never is) but the steps for Villa are clear, they just need to do it well and they will be fine. If Arsenal can also invest as cleverly as they have in the last two seasons then finally, maybe, possibly, a league win can be achieved. Here’s hoping…
Written by Nick who can be found on Twitter @Nickijah