After FA Cup success, Arsenal's artists should aim for EPL title
Wenger's FA Cup artists must redecorate bland EPL
(Theo Walcott 40, Alexis Sanchez 50, Per Mertesacker 62, Olivier Giroud 90+3)
ASTON VILLA 0
In a fitting finale, Arsenal found the cherry for an otherwise bland cake.
A largely forgettable season was rounded off with a memorable FA Cup victory.
The Gunners' sunny stroll past claret and blue training cones was a timely reminder of their incomparable value to the English Premier League.
When Arsene Wenger's vibrant virtuosos are in tune, they make sweeter sounds than all of their domestic competitors.
Even Chelsea can sound like they're blowing down the wrong end of a trumpet in comparison to Arsenal's music men.
Next season, the EPL needs Arsene's artists to move in and redecorate like never before.
A third-place finish in the Premier League and a record 12th FA Cup triumph represents both progress and success for Wenger, but there was also a sense of what might have been.
Villa offered little in the way of opposition, belief or even balance, at times struggling to put one foot in front of the other.
Using Wembley as a shop window, Christian Benteke had a £32.5 million ($67m) price tag around his neck, which presumably weighed him down in the Villa box when he failed to mark Per Mertesacker for Arsenal's third goal.
Benteke didn't move. His inertia was infectious, spreading quickly through the crumbling statues in Villa jerseys masquerading as cup finalists.
But Arsenal's three other goals were exhibits of real beauty, all different, all original; all finished off with improvised flourishes.
Theo Walcott lashed home a lovely volley with his weaker left foot.
His replacement, Olivier Giroud, added a fancy flick in stoppage time.
And, in the middle, Alexis Sanchez left Villa goalkeeper Shay Given with twisted brain cells.
The Chilean's stupendous strike delivered more spin than a Sepp Blatter press conference, deviously dipping and swerving to defy physicists everywhere.
What a wonderful addition the irrepressible Sanchez has been to both Arsenal and the EPL.
Physically imposing, delightfully inventive and usually smiling, Sanchez epitomises the recalibrated Gunners.
They are smarter and harder, but no less creative. Men like Sanchez, Santi Cazorla and the revelatory Francis Coquelin have scooped out Arsenal's old soft centre and replaced it with a more granite-like substance.
Now, it's time to think about Chelsea. And then, the Premier League.
The Blues and both halves of Manchester will invest in the coming months, but Wenger was sharp enough in his interviews to allude to the importance of the boardroom matching his ambition for next season.
A goalkeeper, a centre-back and another striker might just be enough.
Chelsea needed three key signings to go from also-rans to open-top bus parades. So do Arsenal. They are almost there.
The FA Cup final was no classic, but Wembley still witnessed one of the great cup final performances.
Technically flawless, defensively impeccable and attack-minded from first minute to last, Arsenal waltzed into Wembley, picked up the old pot and hopefully laid down a terrific template for next season.
The Wembley Way should now be the Premier League way.
Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal found an extra lung between them to leave the shadows of despairing Villans behind them, demonstrating the faster, wilier counter-attacking football that Wenger now advocates.
During their decade-long trophy drought, Arsenal were infuriatingly inefficient, the football version of Paris Hilton, pretty to look at, but not much substance.
The pass, pass, pass, start again, pass, pass, pass, start again philosophy drove even the most hardened of Wenger apologists to despair.
But common sense now reigns over the Arsenal dugout. Much of which can be attributed to the lucky partnership of Coquelin and Cazorla.
Their coming together was a happy accident, but the relationship has blossomed into something that looks a lot like a future title challenge.
Coquelin cut the supply to Villa's anonymous front three and Cazorla fed Walcott and Sanchez.
Walcott continues to grow in confidence after his lengthy injury absence. Sanchez continues to grow into a monster.
The parts are almost in place. Question marks remain over the erratic Mesut Oezil and Giroud's consistency, but these matters can be addressed.
What Wembley really showed was what the Premier League mostly missed outside of Chelsea last season, just 90 minutes of exhilarating, positive football.
It was also a reminder that Arsenal do not quite boast the best EPL line-up, but they still play the best football.
If they can successfully combine the two next season, they will be worthy challengers to Chelsea.
Their FA Cup should not be considered a dessert, but an appetiser before next season's feast. Bring on the banquet.
I feel sick and so do the boys in there. You can only know how good winning feels when you have to walk around watching a team hold the cup. They deserved to win the game, no arguments about that... We were outplayed by a far better team.
— Villa manager Tim Sherwood
Wenger targets Premier League
An immensely proud Arsene Wenger targeted Premier League glory after guiding Arsenal to a record-breaking 12th FA Cup win.
Wenger's (above) side ripped Aston Villa apart at Wembley yesterday morning (Singapore time) to retain the oldest knockout trophy in football.
Wenger may have had has critics over the second half of his 19-year Arsenal reign, but he is now the only foreign manager to have won the FA Cup six times.
The only other man to have achieved that feat is George Ramsay, who managed Villa from 1884-1926.
"I am very proud of that," the Arsenal manager said.
"If it has not been done (since then), it shows it is not easy and all of us want to achieve things that are difficult.
"For the club it is great, we won it 12 times, more than any club. Personally I managed in seven finals and we won six."
Wenger has improved Arsenal's standing in the league this season, finishing third to guarantee direct entry into the Champions League.
The Arsenal boss hopes the momentum gained from this emphatic win will help his team finish two places higher next season.
"I think of course we can push on," he said.
"Why not? We have won the league in the past when we had the potential to do it and that is what we want to do again."
Wenger seems in no hurry to leave the Emirates Stadium either.
"I have two more years of my contract and I will sit down with my directors and see how much they believe and trust," he said.
''My hunger is great but I want to do well.''
- PA Sport.
DID YOU KNOW?
Arsenal's 4-0 win over Aston Villa was the biggest margin of victory in an FA Cup final for 21 years