Arsenal vs Aston Villa: Four calls that make Arsene Wenger a tactical genius - Theo Walcott, Wojciech Szczesny and Olivier Giroud

The Arsenal manager made two major calls with his starting XI but was rewarded

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Arsene Wenger made two major calls with his starting Arsenal XI for the FA Cup final and was rewarded on both counts.

The Arsenal manager opted to start with Theo Walcott in attack and Wojciech Szczesny in goal - positions which just as easily could have been filled by Olivier Giroud and David Ospina respectively. 

Giroud has been the favoured central striker all season but after Walcott scored a hat-trick on the final day of the season, he staked a claim. That Giroud's end of season form wasn't particularly impressive would have weighed on Wenger's mind and he went for the England international over the French striker. 


When Arsenal were pushing for an opening goal at Wembley it was Walcott who found the breakthrough with a lashed finish from inside the box. Had he not been on the pitch, Arsenal could have been huffing and puffing all afternoon. It was a moment that vindicated Wenger's selection. 

At the other end of the pitch, Wenger stuck with his policy of picking his goalkeeping understudy for cup matches. It was a decision made despite Szczesny's mistake in the FA Cup semi-final against Reading and Ospina's excellent league form.

However the Poland international managed to keep a clean sheet and made some vital, if untidy, punches clear.

Wenger wasn't done though.

In the closing stages he introduced Olivier Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - players that would combine to put the icing on the cake by scoring the fourth goal of the FA Cup final.

As Wenger milked the applause of the Arsenal fans at the end of the match, the sometimes scrutinised Frenchman did so in the knowledge he very much deserved it.