2015 FA Cup Final
|Event||2014–15 FA Cup|
|Date||30 May 2015|
|Venue||Wembley Stadium, London|
|Man of the Match||Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)|
|Referee||Jon Moss (West Yorkshire)|
16 °C (61 °F)
The 2015 FA Cup Final was an association football match played between Arsenal and Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium, London, on 30 May 2015. Organised by the Football Association (FA), it was the 134th final of the Football Association Challenge Cup (FA Cup) and the showpiece match of English football's primary cup competition.
Theo Walcott gave Arsenal the lead in the 40th minute, Nacho Monreal crossed from the left side of the pitch and found Alexis Sánchez whose header back found Walcott who struck the ball on the volley into the goal. Ten minutes later, Alexis Sánchez struck the ball from around 30 yards (27 m) into the roof of the Aston Villa net to double his side's lead before Per Mertesacker made it 3–0 with a header midway through the second half. Three minutes into stoppage time, Olivier Giroud scored from close range to give Arsenal a 4–0 victory. It was the sixth FA Cup win for manager Arsène Wenger, putting him in joint-first place for wins with George Ramsay.
Following a change in UEFA rules, Arsenal had already qualified for the Champions League by finishing third in the Premier League, so the remaining Europa League place went to Southampton, the highest-placed Premier League team that had not qualified for any European competition. As FA Cup-winners, Arsenal played Chelsea, winners of the Premier League, in the 2015 FA Community Shield at Wembley.
Route to the final
|3rd||Hull City (H)||2–0|
|4th||Brighton & Hove Albion (A)||3–2|
|6th||Manchester United (A)||2–1|
|SF||Reading (N)||2–1 (a.e.t.)|
|Key: (H) = Home venue; (A) = Away venue; (N) = Neutral venue.|
FA Cup holders Arsenal, as a Premier League club, entered the competition in the third round where they were drawn at home against fellow top-flight team Hull City in a repeat of the previous year's final. At their Emirates Stadium, Per Mertesacker scored in the 20th minute with a header from an Alexis Sánchez corner. With eight minute remaining, Sánchez doubled Arsenal's lead with a strike from inside the Hull penalty area and his side won the match 2–0. In the Fourth Round, Arsenal's opposition were Championship team Brighton & Hove Albion away at the Falmer Stadium. Theo Walcott opened the scoring after less than two minutes from a Calum Chambers cross before Mesut Özil made it 2–0 midway through the first half. Chris O'Grady scored for Brighton five minutes after half-time but Tomáš Rosický restored Arsenal's two-goal advantage nine minutes later with a volley after a one-two with Olivier Giroud. Sam Baldock's 75th minute goal made it 3–2 but no further goals were scored and Arsenal progressed to the fifth round. There, Arsenal were drawn at home against Middlesbrough, another Championship club, at the Emirates Stadium. Giroud scored twice in the space of three first-half minutes, and after a goalless second half, Arsenal secured their passage to the sixth round with a 2–0 victory.
Arsenal were drawn away at Manchester United in a match scheduled to be televised on BBC One on a Monday evening. This led to criticism from Arsenal supporters as they claimed there would be no trains back to London after the match. Despite this, 9,000 away supporters made the trip to Old Trafford. Nacho Monreal gave the visiting side the lead in the 25th minute from close range after receiving a pass from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Wayne Rooney equalised for Manchester United four minutes later, heading a Ángel Di María cross past Wojciech Szczęsny in the Arsenal goal. Former United player Danny Welbeck then capitalised on a poor backpass by Antonio Valencia to take possession of the ball, round David de Gea and score to make it 2–1 to Arsenal. Di María was sent off with 14 minutes of the game remaining and the match ended without further scoring. In the semi-finals at Wembley Stadium, a neutral venue, Arsenal faced Championship side Reading. Sánchez scored from close range six minutes before half-time before Reading's Garath McCleary equalised with a volley nine minutes after the interval. With the score level at the end of regular time, the match went into extra time where Sánchez scored in stoppage time of the first period to restore Arsenal's lead. The second period of extra time was goalless and the match ended 2–1 to reach the FA Cup Final for the second consecutive year.
|5th||Leicester City (H)||2–1|
|6th||West Bromwich Albion (H)||2–0|
|Key: (H) = Home venue; (A) = Away venue; (N) = Neutral venue.|
Also a Premier League team, Aston Villa entered the tournament in the third round with a 1–0 home win over Championship club Blackpool. Christian Benteke scored the only goal two minutes from the end of the game when he controlled a pass from Carlos Sánchez before striking it past Blackpool goalkeeper Joe Lewis from around 18 yards (16 m). In the fourth round, they faced another second-tier team at home, Bournemouth. After a goalless first half, Carles Gil opened the scoring for Aston Villa on his debut six minutes after half-time with a 25-yard (23 m) curling strike past Lee Camp. Twenty minutes later, the lead was doubled by Andreas Weimann who scored from Alan Hutton's pass. Bournemouth substitute Callum Wilson scored in second-half stoppage time but Aston Villa won the match 2–1. Two weeks after the fourth round, Aston Villa's manager Paul Lambert was dismissed with his side in the relegation positions in the Premier League. He was replaced by Tim Sherwood and in the fifth round, his side were drawn at home, this time against Premier League club Leicester City. The first half ended 0–0 but Leandro Bacuna scored midway through the second half with a curling shot from outside the Leicester City penalty area. Scott Sinclair scored Aston Villa's second in the 89th minute after it was fumbled by Mark Schwarzer, the Leicester City goalkeeper. Andrej Kramarić scored a consolation goal one minute into stoppage time but Aston Villa progressed with a 2–1 win.
The sixth round draw saw Aston Villa drawn at home against West Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion. After a goalless first half, Fabian Delph gave the home side the lead after receiving the ball from Charles N'Zogbia and striking it low past West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Boaz Myhill. With ten minutes to go, Claudio Yacob was sent off after receiving a second yellow card, Sinclair doubled Aston Villa's lead five minutes later. Substitute Jack Grealish, who had been on the pitch less than 20 minutes, was sent off in second-half stoppage time for a second yellow card, but his side won 2–0. The victory prompted a pitch invasion for which Aston Villa were charged by The Football Association.[a] In the semi-final at Wembley Stadium, Aston Villa faced Liverpool. Philippe Coutinho gave Liverpool the lead in the 30th minute, shooting past Shay Given in the Aston Villa goal. Benteke scored the equaliser six minutes later, sidefooting the ball past Simon Mignolet, the Liveprool goalkeeper. Delph then gave Aston Villa the lead 11 minutes into the second half to give his side a 2–1 victory. Aston Villa reached the final for the first time since 2000.
Arsenal were playing a record 19th FA Cup final, surpassing Manchester United. They had previously won 11, a joint record with United, most recently last season's final against Hull City. Their most recent defeat in the final was in 2001, losing 2–1 to Liverpool. It was Aston Villa's 11th final, of which they had won seven, most recently in 1957 with a 2–1 win over Manchester United. Their most recent final was a 1–0 defeat to Chelsea in 2000.
Arsenal and Aston Villa played twice during the league season, both games resulting in Arsenal victories. On 20 September 2014, they won 3–0 at Villa Park with three goals in under four minutes of the first half, from Özil, Welbeck and an own goal from Aly Cissokho off a shot from Kieran Gibbs. At the Emirates Stadium on 1 February 2015, Arsenal triumphed 5–0 with goals by Giroud, Özil, Walcott, a penalty kick by Santi Cazorla after goalkeeper Brad Guzan fouled Chuba Akpom, and Héctor Bellerín.
Children's television programme Blue Peter ran a competition to design the mascot for the final. The winning entry was "Billie", a horse based on the one which controlled the crowds ahead of the 1923 final. Former England international Phil Neville, one of the judges in the competition, said that: "I think the design is great, the story behind it is even better and I think it’s something everyone’s going to be really impressed with.” Religious television programme Songs of Praise ran a competition to be part of a 64-person choir to sing the traditional hymn "Abide with Me" before the final. The 64 are fans of each of the clubs which reached the Third Round of the competition, including a 99-year-old Newcastle United fan and a Liverpool fan who survived the Hillsborough disaster. The music was performed by the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas.
Following the semi-finals, both clubs met at Wembley to discuss final arrangements. Arsenal were designated as the "home" team because they were first alphabetically. Despite this, Aston Villa won the pre-match coin toss for choice of strips and chose to wear their home claret and blue kit that they had worn for all of the previous rounds. Arsenal decided to wear their yellow and blue away kit instead of their dark blue cup kit. The BBC devoted a whole day of programming to the final, reviving the tradition of its all-day coverage. Both Aston Villa and Arsenal received a ticket allocation of 25,000 for the game with 17,000 being offered to members of Club Wembley, de facto season ticket holders at Wembley Stadium. Ticket prices range from £50, £70, £90 and £120.
Aston Villa kicked off the final at around 5:30 p.m. on 30 May 2015 in front of a crowd of 89,283 spectators. Two minutes into the match, Alexis Sánchez was fouled by Westwood, and from the resulting free kick, Özil eventually headed the ball on to Walcott but he was deemed to be in an offside position. Two minutes later, Delph's cross was caught by Arsenal goalkeeper Szczesny. In the eighth minute, Cazorla's low shot from inside the Aston Villa penalty area was defended by Hutton, and from the second of two subsequent corners, Koscielny headed wide of the goal. Benteke then fouled Cazorla but Özil's free kick was easily cleared by Vlaar. Richardson's 13th minute cross was then punched clear by Szczesny to deny Benteke a chance to open the scoring. A minute later, Cleverley became the first player to be booked after he fouled Monreal. From the resulting free kick, Koscielny's header was saved by Given in the Aston Villa goal. In the 17th minute, Bellerin turned past Richardson and sent in a low cross to Ramsey whose shot hit the side netting. Özil's 20th minute pass found Ramsey inside the penalty area but his shot was high over the Aston Villa crossbar.
Midway through the first half, Özil crossed to Walcott who was 6 yards (5.5 m) out from the Aston Villa goal but he was denied by a sliding tackle from Richardson. In the 28th minute, Coquelin passed to Ramsey who ran into the Aston Villa penalty area but his shot took a deflection off Vlaar and was easily caught by Given. Six minutes later, Hutton was shown the yellow card for a late tackle on Alexis Sánchez but Aston Villa eventually cleared the resulting free kick. In the 38th minute, Delph was then booked for repeated fouls. With five minutes of the half remaining, Arsenal took the lead through Walcott. Monreal crossed from the left side of the pitch and found Alexis Sánchez; he headed back to Walcott who ran into the Aston Villa penalty area to strike the ball on the volley into the goal. After two minutes of stoppage time, the first half was brought to a close with the score at 1–0.
Neither side made any changes to their personnel during the half-time interval and Arsenal kicked off the second half, with Ramsey's early shot being easily saved by Given. In the 50th minute, Alexis Sánchez struck the ball from around 30 yards (27 m) into the roof of the Aston Villa net to double his side's lead. Two minutes later, Westwood was booked for a foul on Alexis Sánchez before Aston Villa made their first substitution of the match with N'Zogbia being replaced by Agbonlahor. Alexis Sánchez then headed the ball into the Aston Villa goal but it was disallowed by the referee for offside. Cazorla's 57th minute low shot was then saved by Given before Mertesacker scored with a header from a Cazorla corner, making it 3–0 to Arsenal in the 62nd minute. Midway through the second half, Delph's free kick was easily gathered by Szczesny, before Bacuna came on to replace an injured Richardson and Carlos Sánchez was brought on for Westwood.
In the 76th minute, Walcott's curling long-range shot was high and wide, before he was replaced by Giroud, and Wilshere came on for Özil. Agbonlahor was then brought down on the edge of the Arsenal area and claimed for a penalty but nothing was given by the referee. The Aston Villa player was then booked for his protests. Bellerin then tackled Grealish in the Arsenal penalty area but once again, no foul was given. Grealish's subsequent 25-yard (23 m) shot was blocked before Oxlade-Chamberlain came on for Alexis Sánchez. In the third minute of second-half stoppage time, Oxlade-Chamberlain's pass found Giroud who flicked the ball into the Aston Villa to make it 4–0 to Arsenal, the final score, to win their 12th FA Cup and become the most successful team in the competition's history.
Man of the match
|Shots on target||8||0|
|Shots off target||8||2|
This was the sixth FA Cup win for manager Arsène Wenger, putting him in joint-first place for wins with George Ramsay. Wenger himself said "We have shown today that we are a real team. I’d like to congratulate everyone, my players, my staff, the supporters" and described it as "the perfect day". Mertesacker said "We deserved this today. We played on the front foot from the start and that makes a massive difference". Sherwood conceded that Arsenal had deserved to win, saying "I can't make any excuses for that today, Arsenal were too good for us. We couldn't impose ourselves on them or nullify what they had." His captain, Delph, agreed, noting "Arsenal showed why they deserved the win. We were up against it, we tried to dig deep but their quality shone through and we struggled."
The game was broadcast live in the UK on free-to-air TV on BBC One and on pay TV on BT Sport. It was the first FA Cup Final broadcast by the BBC in seven years and they restored the tradition of having an all-day build-up for the final, linking up with various other BBC programmes. The game was watched by an average of 8 million viewers on BBC One and a peak of 8.8 million.
On Arsenal's victory parade after winning the final, Jack Wilshere led fans in a chant calling local rivals Tottenham Hotspur "shit". Having previously been warned after a similar chant in the previous season's victory parade, The Football Association charged him with misconduct.
Following a change in UEFA rules, this was the first season where runners-up in cup competitions did not enter the Europa League if the winners had already qualified for Europe. Therefore, as Arsenal had already qualified for the Champions League by finishing third in the Premier League, the remaining Europa League place went to Southampton, the highest-placed Premier League team that had not qualified for any European competition. As winners, Arsenal played Chelsea, winners of the Premier League, in the 2015 FA Community Shield at Wembley.
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