As Arsenal became the most successful club in FA Cup history, Aston Villa, a mere shadow of the side that performed so impressively to beat Liverpool at Wembley in the semi-final, will have to regard Premier League survival (by the skin of their teeth, again) as their success this term.
While Arsene Wenger became the joined most successful manager in the competitions history, Tim Sherwood was left demising the huge chasm that has been created between two of England’s most decorated clubs, and even huger task he has to, at the very least, address the club’s now too regular fight to survive the dreaded drop.
After ending their league season by being thrashed 6-1 at Southampton and losing at home to already relegated Burnley, many thought that that was a case of a ‘now safe from relegation’ Villa with their collective eyes on the prize, and a day to remember for this particularly passionate part of the West Midlands. Not the tepid conclusion to a tepid season that was witnessed in north-west London, on Saturday. And, after the 4-0 thumping, Sherwood’s job ahead was shown up even greater with the fact that many opinions were that the claret and blue’s goalkeeper, Shay Given, was in fact, the only player who came out of the game with any shred of credit and the signs were ominous, again, for another season of woe at Birmingham, B6, as signs of a too regularly abject performances were flagged up once again.
The Gooner's pace and mobility ran Villa ragged, on the vast, open spaces of the national stadium, with large flaws exposed at will with the Londoners’ ruthlessness and determination to continue their found-again silverware-winning formula.
Arsenal's 12th final victory was never in doubt as they dominated with a magnificent display, the only surprise being that it took until five minutes before half-time for their control to be rewarded with Theo Walcott's goal.
Well before the favourite’s fourth strike, from substitute Olivier Giroud, in the final moments, Villa’s latest incumbent in the fast-becoming ‘too hot seat,’ knew he has the biggest job of his footballing life, to rebuild a winning team, with a winning formula, that will recreate the winning mentality that has been the mainstay of the once feared team.
“There’s a lot of work to be done and what we do between now and the summer will be crucial to how we perform next season,” said a thoroughly dejected Sherwood.
With talks, on various levels, surrounding the future of Christian Benteke, midfielder Jack Grealish, captain and centre-half, Ron Vlaarand the gallant Given, causing great concern, the fear is of a ‘spineless Villa’- literally - with another grueling, relentless Premier League season ever ready to spare no blushes.
For a jubilant, yet guarded Wenger, it’s got to be the Premier title, or bust, for next season. Isn’t it?