2015 FA Cup Final
The match programme cover
|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 the 134th final of the FA Cup, the world's oldest football cup competition. The match was contested by Arsenal and Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium in London. The match was played on 30 May 2015 and was the final match of the competition. Arsenal won the match 4–0 with goals from Theo Walcott, Alexis Sánchez, Per Mertesacker and Olivier Giroud, for a record 12th title. This 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, 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.
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.
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 Mesut Özil, Danny 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 Olivier Giroud, Özil, Theo 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.
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.
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 (aet)|
|Key: (h) = Home venue; (a) = Away venue; (n) = Neutral venue.|
FA Cup holders Arsenal entered the competition in the Third Round as a Premier League club. In their first match, 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, Arsenal won 2–0 with goals from Per Mertesacker and Alexis Sánchez. In the Fourth Round, Arsenal drew a Championship team, Brighton & Hove Albion away. At the Falmer Stadium, Arsenal won 3–2 with goals from Theo Walcott, Mesut Özil and Tomáš Rosický. Arsenal were then drawn at home against another Championship club, Middlesbrough at the Emirates Stadium, and won 2–0 with both goals scored by Olivier Giroud. In the Sixth Round, Arsenal were drawn away at Manchester United. The match was also scheduled to be televised on BBC One on a Monday evening, which led to criticism from Arsenal supporters as there would be no trains back to London after the match. Despite this, at Old Trafford with 9,000 away supporters, Arsenal won 2–1 with goals from Nacho Monreal and former United player Danny Welbeck. In the semi-finals at Wembley Stadium, Arsenal were drawn against Championship side Reading and won 2–1 after extra time, with two goals from Sánchez 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 scoring the only goal two minutes from the end of the game. In the Fourth Round, they defeated another second-tier team at home, Bournemouth, 2–1. Carles Gil opened the scoring on his Villa debut, later doubled by Andreas Weimann, with a late consolation by Bournemouth substitute Callum Wilson. Now managed by Tim Sherwood, they played at home again in the Fifth Round against Premier League club Leicester City, winning by the same score. Leandro Bacuna scored the first goal, Scott Sinclair the second, and Andrej Kramarić an added-time consolation for the visitors.
Their Sixth Round game was again at Villa Park, a 2–0 victory over West Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion. Fabian Delph and Sinclair netted in the second half, wherein the away team's Claudio Yacob and Villa substitute Jack Grealish were sent off. The victory prompted a pitch invasion for which Aston Villa were charged by The Football Association. In May 2015, Aston Villa were fined £200,000 following the pitch invasions and were severely warned as to the club's future conduct. In the semi-final at Wembley Stadium, Villa came from behind to defeat Liverpool. They conceded the first goal by Philippe Coutinho, but responded with goals from Benteke and Delph to reach the final for the first time since 2000.
30 May 2015
| Walcott 40'
Man of the match
|Shots on target||8||0|
|Shots off target||8||2|
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. BT Sport's audience peaked with 212,000. It was the most watched game in the UK of the 2014–15 football season.
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.
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