Arsenal break FA Cup record by thrashing Aston Villa at Wembley to retain trophy

Arsenal's Theo Walcott celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game at Wembley

Arsenal's Theo Walcott celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game at Wembley - Credit: EMPICS Sport

Arsenal 4 Aston Villa 0

Arsenal broke the record for FA Cup victories as they brushed Aston Villa aside to retain the trophy at Wembley Stadium.

The Gunners have now lifted the famous pot 12 times – more than any other club – and never looked in danger of surrendering the silverware as they produced a controlled, dominant display in Saturday’s final.

Theo Walcott, selected to start up front, repaid Arsene Wenger’s faith by netting the opener just before half-time, with Alexis Sanchez making it 2-0 before Per Mertesacker headed a third and substitute Olivier Giroud rounded off the scoring late on.

It was the highest margin of victory in the FA Cup final since Manchester United beat Chelsea by the same scoreline 21 years ago – and this proved to be a far more one-sided encounter.

Whereas Arsenal had been slow to take the initiative against Hull a year ago, they made the early running this time around and carved out a string of opportunities.

Unexpectedly, the first of those fell to Laurent Koscielny, who got his head to a Sanchez cross, but veteran Villa goalkeeper Shay Given – starting ahead of Brad Guzan – rescued his side with a point-blank save.

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The Gunners continued to press and Hector Bellerin’s speed took him clear of Kieran Richardson to deliver a low cross that Aaron Ramsey turned into the side netting.

Ramsey went close with a second attempt that fizzed just over, while Villa were indebted to Richardson for throwing himself in the way of Walcott’s close-range shot.

But it was Walcott who finally broke the deadlock five minutes before the interval, crashing a left-foot volley into the back of the net after Sanchez had nodded down Nacho Monreal’s cross.

And it took Sanchez just five minutes of the second period to double the Gunners’ advantage, seizing a stray pass and turning inside before rifling a 30-yard thunderbolt in off the crossbar.

It looked as if the Chilean star had made the game safe a few minutes later, turning in the rebound after Given had parried Walcott’s shot, but the linesman’s flag just about kept Villa in the game.

Although Given kept out Cazorla’s drive soon afterwards, the Midlands side’s fate was all but sealed on 62 minutes when Mertesacker rose above Christian Benteke to head home Arsenal’s third goal.

Walcott might have made it 4-0 when Ramsey robbed Fabian Delph and found him with a measured pass, but the forward blazed wide with only Given to beat.

Villa offered little in response, although they had a strong penalty claim rejected when Francis Coquelin appeared to trip Gabriel Agbonlahor 10 minutes from the end.

But it was undeniably Arsenal’s day and Giroud set the seal on their success deep into added time, turning in fellow substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross from close range.

Arsenal: Szczesny; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla; Ramsey, Ozil (Wilshere 77), Sanchez (Oxlade-Chamberlain 90); Walcott (Giroud 77).

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