Arsenal 2014 FA Cup Final Winners
Arsenal broke their nine year trophy drought with a victory over Hull City in the FA Cup.
Arsenal‘s bid for the cup could not have started off worse, conceding two goals in the first 8 minutes of the match. But over the course of the game Arsenal‘s superior skills and squad took their toll on Hull, who only just managed to avoid relegation from the Premier League last week.
The Gunners were denied four penalty appeals, that many referees would have given and Hull were lucky to escape with only three yellow cards for their robust challenges.
Santi Cazorla‘s marvelous free kick put Arsenal back in the competition. Laurent Koscielny provided the equaliser and who else but Aaron Ramsey would seal the victory, combining in a superb interchange with Olivier Giroud.
Aaron Ramsey’s extra-time winner ensured Arsenal ended their nine-year wait for a trophy by coming from two goals behind to beat Hull City in a dramatic FA Cup final at Wembley.
The Gunners started as firm favourites but were stunned as goals from James Chester and Curtis Davies gave Hull a flying start inside the first 10 minutes.
Santi Cazorla’s superb free-kick put Arsenal back in contention before half-time and Laurent Koscielny scrambled in the equaliser after 71 minutes.
And as Arsenal looked the stronger, superior team in extra time, Ramsey, whose absence through injury hit them so hard in the latter part of the season, completed the comeback with an instinctive strike with 11 minutes of the extra period left.
Arsenal were left bewildered as Hull delivered two heavy blows inside the first eight minutes to stun the Gunners and their expectant supporters.
Hull deserve great credit for a set-piece move that caught Arsenal by surprise as Stephen Quinn found Tom Huddlestone unmarked on the edge of the area. His shot was going off target but Chester was alert enough to redirect it past the wrong-footed Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski.
It got better for Hull – and considerably worse for Arsenal – five minutes later when Alex Bruce’s header came back off the post and Davies was perfectly placed to beat Fabianski with an angled finish.
There was a mood of utter disbelief among Arsenal’s players and fans, in sharp contrast to the other end of Wembley, where Hull’s fans were in dreamland.
And as Arsenal struggled to recover some semblance of composure, it required a vital goal-line clearance from Kieran Gibbs to divert away another header from Bruce.
Arsenal needed to find hope from somewhere and it came after 17 minutes when Cazorla curled a brilliant free-kick beyond the outstretched hand of Hull keeper Allan McGregor.
Hull were now being tested by Arsenal but they held firm and Wenger was forced into a change after an hour when Yaya Sanogo replaced Lukas Podolski.
The pressure was building and the equaliser came with 19 minutes left, coming from a corner which Hull disputed bitterly after Sanogo appeared to turn the ball out at the near post.
Hull, however, switched off at the corner and when Bacary Sagna’s header deflected off Olivier Giroud, Koscielny was first to react to turn the finish past McGregor from six yards.
Bruce sent on Sone Aluko for Quinn in an attempt to galvanise his side but it was all Arsenal as Hull hung on desperately.
Gibbs was guilty of wasting a glorious chance when he was set up by Sanogo, taking his time before shooting wildly over from eight yards. McGregor then did well to save from Giroud as the striker finally threatened.
Sanogo’s unpredictable presence had made an impact and he was inches away from winning it for Arsenal in the closing moments of normal time with a shot from the edge of the area.
Hull looked physically spent as extra time started and came close again five minutes after the restart when Giroud rose to meet Aaron Ramsey’s cross but headed against the bar.
Arsenal were really exerting their authority and it was no surprise when Ramsey finally broke Hull’s resistance after 108 minutes with a smart first-time finish inside the area from Giroud’s clever, instinctive back-heel.
There was one final scare when Fabianski’s ill-judged dash from goal saw Aluko’s finish roll closely past the goal line to safety – but seconds later the years of hurt were over for Arsenal and Wenger.
More at Arsenal fight back to win FA Cup
Arsenal will hopefully pick up another quality striker in the summer and keep their key players fit for longer periods next season. If they can, surely more silverware will be on the way.
Unfortunately it looks almost certain that Arsenal will also have to replace their reliable right back Bacary Sagna, who seems to have opted to take the thirty pieces of silver offered by Manchester City.
Man City should be struggling to pay Sagna, as they were fined £49m (£32m of which is suspended) and can only name a 21-man Champions League squad next season, after breaking UEFA financial fair play rules. They can only spend £49m on players this summer, plus any transfer fees they receive and their wage bill for 2014-15 must stay the same as this season.
City‘s response pretty much said “Your fines and restrictions won’t effect us” so obviously UEFA need to come down harder.
With the English domestic season over we now have the all Spanish, all Madrid, Champions League final to look forward to next Saturday, 24th May. Which will feature Atletico Madrid, who claimed La Liga title today with a draw at Barcelona.
Following that we have the World Cup Finals in Brazil, commencing Thursday 12th June, assuming the stadiums are finished. If they are that will be a great spectacle I am sure.
So fear not the football goes on.
By Max Power