The Gunners’ 3-2 comeback victory over Hull City on Saturday raises a number of talking points.
Arsenal fans would have been forgiven for thinking that their team were once again going to lose a final and squander the chance of winning their first major trophy since 2005.
The Tigers could have added a third soon after, as Arsene Wenger’s team were staring at a heavy defeat. However, Arsenal halved the deficit on 17 minutes when Santi Cazorla scored with a brilliant free kick, and on 71 minutes Laurent Koscielny netted the equaliser.
Below are five key observations from the game.
1) Arsenal regain winning mentality
Arsenal fans can rest assured that ending the season on a high will give the team more impetus going into the next campaign. One could see the implications of the triumph on the players’ faces: a nine-year trophy drought had finally ended and there was relief all around. The core of the team will stay the same for a number of years to come, and they should seize this opportunity to really get on. Now that Arsenal have regained their ‘winning mentality’, they should make the most of it and drive on to bigger success.
2) Arsenal need a striker
Olivier Giroud’s performance until the introduction of Yaya Sanogo on the hour mark was largely flat. With two strikers on the pitch, Arsenal looked more confident and incisive. Giroud started to get more into the game and his strike-partner also looked lively. However, these are the only two recognised centre-forwards in the Arsenal squad. Wenger needs to sign (at least) one world-class striker. Giroud’s future is still uncertain and even if he remains at the Emirates Stadium, the Gunners could certainly do with someone else. Sanogo is still too young and inexperienced to lead the line on his own, while the North London club need someone to fall back on if Giroud fails to deliver.
3) Arsenal need Aaron Ramsey
If Ramsey had been fit the entire season, would Arsenal have won the Premier League? Maybe, maybe not. What was clear from Saturday’s final, though, was that the Wales international is absolutely integral to the Gunners for next season and the years beyond. The 23-year-old gave an all-round performance in midfield against Hull, scored the winning goal and deservedly picked up the Man of the Match award.
4) Arsenal’s defence must improve
Arsenal conceded two goals and both were avoidable. The Gunners could have shipped in two more later, and once again because of defensive frailties. Wenger’s side did look vulnerable from set piece and this is something that they need to rectify. In the 2013-14 Premier League campaign, the North London outfit allowed just 11 goals at the Emirates Stadium, but on their travels they conceded 30 in 19 matches. That is simply not good enough to win the league.
5) Hull City can be proud
Hull manager Steve Bruce can be proud of his players. They scored twice in the opening eight minutes and gave Arsenal a real scare. Of course, the difference in quality between the two Premier League sides meant that the Gunners were always going to be a threat, but even after going 3-2 down in extra time, the Tigers did not lose heart. In the first half, Hull ran Arsenal ragged in midfield and gave a great performance. In the end, their resistance broke, but that was more down to the way Arsenal launched a comeback than to their own deficiencies.