The long journey that started with 736 teams has now come down to two. Defending FA Cup champions Arsenal and Aston Villa are heading to the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium on May 30 after defeating Reading and Liverpool respectively this weekend.
Arsenal 2-1 Reading AET
For Arsenal, they defeated Championship side Reading in extra time. In what would seem like a mere formality on paper, Reading posed problems for Arsenal and the Gunners had to fight to get into the Final.
The scoring started in the 40th minute. Alexis Sanchez received the ball from Aaron Ramsey deep in the box. After faking out one of Reading’s defenders, he took a shot from about eight yards out.
Reading was strong though and they came back after halftime with a goal of their own. Garath McCleary volleyed the cross toward Arsenal’s goal. The ball deflected off of Kieran Gibbs’ legs and all Wojciech Szczesny can do is catch the ball just past the goal line to make things level at 1.
Going into the extra time period, both teams had chances to take the lead and get the win. Alas, Arsenal took the lead and kept it for good because of a heartbreaking mistake by Adam Federici. For Federici’s sake, I hope no one gives him a hard time. He had put in a tremendous game and made some great world class saves. Yeah, this was a mistake in a critical part of the game and it cost Reading a chance to at least take it to PK’s, but Arsenal would’ve won way before then if it wasn’t for Federici.
Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool
While this may be seen as an upset, there was no upset about it. Aston Villa was the better team and deserved to defeat Liverpool. From the questionable managerial decisions by Brendan Rodgers to the disorganized play by the Liverpool back line to the incredibly embarrassing performance by Steven Gerrard, Liverpool didn’t deserve to win this game.
Liverpool did have the lead at one point. They had a very beautiful set up to get their first and only goal of the day. Coutinho passed to Jordan Henderson, who was making a run. While it wouldn’t have been a good angle, Henderson could’ve taken a shot but decided to pass. After a mistake by Villa, Liverpool got the ball back and fell back to Coutinho. Coutinho powered through and placed the ball into the bottom right corner and took the lead.
With what looked like a dream Final for Liverpool fans and for Steven Gerrard, whose birthday would’ve been on the Final and would’ve been his final game as a Liverpool player, that dream quickly transformed into a mirage. Liverpool’s lead only lasted about six minutes. The on-fire goalscorer Christian Benteke and Aston Villa marched down the field and Benteke drilled home the equalizer from the top of the box.
At halftime, it would look as if Liverpool had a chance to get it back. Aston Villa’s second goal about 10 minutes into the second half dashed those chances. Fabian Delph kicked a through ball to Benteke on the left. Benteke backheeled a pass to Jack Grealish, who passed to Fabian Delph. Delphi forced Dejan Lovren into yet another defensive mistake and Delph brought it to give Aston Villa another game on their schedule.
Some people who are going to be happy with Arsenal vs. Aston Villa as the FA Cup Final will be the royal family. Various members of the royal family support Arsenal or Aston Vila. Arsenal has Queen Elizabeth and Prince Harry while Aston Villa has the Duke of Cambridge Prince William. The Duchess of Cambridge had to bow out in the semifinal stage as she is a Reading supporter. It sounds like it is going to be a rather tense Buckingham Palace over the next month and a half.