Friday 30 September 2016

Five Talking Points From The FA Cup Final

Published 30/05/2015 | 21:45

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud (right) celebrates with team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after scoring their fourth goal of the game during the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium
Arsenal's Olivier Giroud (right) celebrates with team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after scoring their fourth goal of the game during the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium

WE take a look at the five biggest talking points of tonight's FA Cup Final.

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Have Arsenal turned the corner?

Last November, Arsene Wenger was really on the ropes after a comprehensive defeat at Swansea created rows amongst their supporters and raised serious questions about his tactical prowess. Signs of improvement post-Christmas silenced critics until they self destructed at home to Monaco to exit the Champions League to inferior opposition. However, they responded to that devastating blow to finish the campaign impressively. The flip side to the argument is that a poor Villa team made it too easy for them. World weary Arsenal fans are wary of getting their hopes up.

What will this mean for Jack Grealish’s international future?

The nature of modern football lends itself to rash conclusions but a poor showing from the teenager is unlikely to cool English interest. Perhaps it might quieten the frenzy in the UK media around the 19-year-old which led to Roy Hodgson discussing him at length at his squad announcement for next week’s Dublin date with Ireland. He will know that most promising young players have a humbling experience like this one on their CV. England have tracked the Brummie for years and Ireland still need him desperately. This doesn’t change anything.

What does this say about Liverpool?

Tim Sherwood’s charges were the deserved winners of the semi final, capitalising on the space that was afforded to them to get the job done impressively. In the decider, they were made to look like a team which finished 17th after a season battling relegation - just three points clear of the trap door. Arsenal did their homework on Villa, realising their discomfort when pressed in their own half and working extremely hard to track on the rare occasions the underdogs broke. Perhaps, Liverpool didn’t give them enough respect.

Christian Benteke’s £32 million price tag

This is another heading that might interest Liverpool fans given their reported interest in the big Belgian striker. Sherwood admitted during the week that there’s a clause in the striker’s contract which allows other clubs to do business if they match it. He didn’t advertise his claims on this occasion as the combination of Per Mertesacker and the excellent Laurent Koscielny snuffed out his threat. In Benteke’s defence, he wasn’t exactly blessed with great service and was isolated for long periods. But the suspicion lingers that there’s better value for money elsewhere in the market.

The danger of underestimating Ozil

Theo Walcott will grab his share of the headlines after stepping into the side to open the scoring with Olivier Giroud watching from the sidelines, and his contractual situation adds a degree of intrigue to his story. Alexis Sanchez, meanwhile, scored the stunner that will dominate the highlights packages. But Mesut Ozil was the real stand-out performer in yellow, with his dexterous touches a feature of a first half where Villa’s confidence was drained as Arsenal toyed with the ball and left them chasing shadows. The German World Cup winner is an easy target sometimes, yet his class shone through when it mattered.

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