Arsenal warmed up perfectly for next weekends FA cup final against Tim Sherwood’s promising Aston Villa side, Wenger’s side came out with a point to prove after drawing a blank in their previous three home games. It was important that this Arsenal squad gave the fans a good send off as the curtain came down on another Premier league season that could yet end with a bit more silverware.
1, Theo Walcott returns with a bang
It was always on the cards that Arsene Wenger would wring the changes to the lineup and many who have been calling for Walcott‘s inclusion for the last few games would have been optimistic to see his name on the team sheet, the pacey attacker took the place of Olivier Giroud who was rested for the visit of Tony Pulis‘ West Bromwich Albion side.
Walcott clearly had a point to prove and grabbed his first just four minutes in firing home past a helpless Boaz Myhill, he wasn’t finished there and grabbed two more in 37 first half minutes. It was the type of first half display that will definitely put Walcott in serious contention for next weekends FA cup final, Walcott missed last years Wembley triumph over Hull City and will be eager to play a part against Aston Villa.
Judging by his performance today Wenger will be very eager to renew Walcott‘s contract that ends next Summer.
2, Jack Wilshere shows his match sharpness
Much like fellow Englishman Walcott, Wilshere was in good form and just showed the Arsenal fans what they have been missing. Wilshere was at the heart of absolutely everything and was a contender for man of the match, he did not look like a player that was just returning from serious injury.
Surprisingly Wilshere started on the right hand side of the Arsenal front three but looked at home cutting inside, the West Brom defence had no answer for Arsenal‘s movement especially Wilshere who had a sensational first half display.
The versatile midfielder showed his quality with a devastating volley just 17 minutes in, Wilshere caught the ball flush and not for the first time Myhill was beaten all ends up, he had no answer.
Wilshere is another name the will be in serious contention for a starting place next weekend, it would appears that Wenger has a big squad to choose from which would make a nice change.
3, Francis Coquelin once again shows his defensive maturity
It has been a strange season in the Arsenal midfield especially for Francis Coquelin, one minute he is readying himself for another loan spell and he must have thought his Arsenal career was going nowhere very fast. Since the injuries to numerous midfield players such as Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini he has not looked back, if anything he has thrived in their absence.
Once again Coquelin showed his maturity today, a defensive midfielder is such an undervalued commodity by so many and the Frenchman plays that role seamlessly.
West Brom are a physical side and have previous for causing Arsenal problems but not today, the starting XI were determined and so was Coquelin who not for the first time this season screened the Arsenal back four like he has been doing it for years. It just goes to show you can be too close to spot a good thing, before this season if you were to say the name “Francis Coquelin” you would associate that with the 8-2 loss at Old Trafford. Going into next season Coquelin will be one of the first names on Wenger‘s team sheet and has proved his worth at the club.
4, Alexis Sanchez sets the tempo
It would take a brave man to argue that Sanchez has been the standout signing of this season, arriving from Barcelona for £35 million after an individually exceptional World Cup for Chile he has been the heartbeat of Arsenal‘s season. Sanchez dragged Wenger’s side through the first half of this campaign single handed, he promises to be even better next season.
Sanchez has not been himself in the last week or so but looked back on point today as he was involved heavily in the Arsenal attacks, the Chilean forward has such an infectious attitude which seems to have rubbed off on the rest of the squad, he has a desire that most in the Premier League fail to match which is why he has become such a fan favourite.
5, Arsenal look more than ready for next weekend
Following a hugely routine victory it is hard not to draw a multitude of positives from Sundays victory. Walcott and Wilshere among the goals and showing a great level of fitness, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gets some valuable minutes under his belt, Gabriel gets another run out and looks solid and not to mention an impressive Aaron Ramsey cameo in which he could have had a hat-trick.
Arsenal look in very good shape going into next weekend where they will be aiming to retain the FA cup following last seasons triumphant victory over Hull City, that would make Arsenal 12 times winners of the competition and would see Wenger a six time winner of the trophy since his arrival in 1996.
Next weekends cup final is far from a forgone conclusion with Tim Sherwood‘s Aston Villa side looking dangerous in the last few weeks and lets not forget their impressive win over Liverpool who were favourites to meet Arsenal in the final. This Arsenal side have the bonus of last seasons final fresh in the memory if they need evidence that they will need to put in an energetic performance to bring the FA cup back to the Emirates.
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