Arsenal’s FA Cup triumph marks fantastic final to improved season

By Hilton Yip Source:Global Times Published: 2015-6-1 23:23:01

To all the doubters and critics, Arsenal's performance in the FA Cup ­final Saturday was an emphatic answer to the question of whether this season was an improvement or more of the same.

The Gunners finished off the season in style and confidence with a 4-0 ­victory. It proved to be a perfect finale for the team in a season that had earlier been marred by mishaps.

Poor Aston Villa had hoped for an ­upset, no doubt buoyed by their comeback win over Liverpool in the semifinal. But this evaporated in the first 20 minutes when Arsenal put a stranglehold on the game and ­dominated play. It took a while for them to score, but after Theo Walcott did it in the 40th minute, followed by Alexis Sanchez's blast in the 50th minute, the result was guaranteed.

The victory has made Arsenal seem like favorites to challenge for the ­Premier League title next season. ­Already, ­several Gunners like Walcott and Aaron Ramsey have said they are eyeing the Premiership crown. The confidence is good but ­Arsenal need to be wary of ­giving ­themselves too much pressure or ­putting a big bull's-eye on their back for the rest of the league.

To win the FA Cup for the second year in a row and finish third is a sound improvement from previous seasons. It is even more impressive when taking into account embarrassments in ­defeats to Stoke and Swansea and a terrible Champions League campaign. Nothing comes easy for the Gunners but they ­rebounded with wins against Manchester City away and Manchester United at Old Trafford in the FA Cup and a nine-game league winning streak in March.

To have a realistic chance of winning the league next season, Arsenal will need to make sure of several things. They must avoid starting slow like this season when they only had 11 points after the first eight games, while maintaining a healthy squad. They did have their usual injury crisis this season but it struck at the beginning. This meant the bulk of their team was healthy for the second half, which is incidentally when they were on fire. Wenger should find a world-class forward to augment Olivier Giroud and Walcott, and another defensive midfielder to compete or back up Francis Coquelin, their defensive stalwart who is one of the biggest reasons for their success this season.

Most importantly the team need to continue what they did this season - be consistent and beat other top teams.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.

Posted in: Extra Time

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