Arsenal v Wigan
FA Cup Semi Final
Kick off: April 12, 2014 5.07 PM BST
Arsenal love making things difficult for themselves, and today was no different. No matter the nature of it though, we got the win. We are into the finals of the FA Cup, a penalty shoot out required to split us from Wigan.
Arsenal started off fantastically, and it looked like the game could have been over before it even started. Sanogo, Chamberlain and Ramsey were running riot and could, and should, have scored several times. Chamberlain almost broke through on goal after a nice one-two with Aaron Ramsey, but Sanogo intervened and attempted to flick it on. The flick on was just behind the Ox however, and the ball bounced off the Englishman’s shin and straight to Wigan keeper, Scott Carson.
He then almost created a goal for his team, latching onto a lofted Cazorla pass and putting a fantastic cross into the box. Yaya Sanogo got his head on it, but his powerful header was straight at Carson. He parried it away, and it was cleared by his defenders.
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The remainder of the first half was a tame affair for the most part, Arsenal dominating possession but rarely penetrating the Wigan defence. Sanogo earned Arsenal a corner which was swung in by Cazorla. Vermaelen knocked it down towards Bacary Sagna, whose left footed half volley went narrowly over the bar.
McManaman was Wigan’s main threat going forward, and was causing Monreal and Vermaelen real problems. He ghosted past Vermaelen like he wasn’t there on one occasion, his square ball into the box cleared by Mertesacker.
Sanogo got another chance, his pace taking him away from the Wigan defenders. Carson was able to come out to make the block though, putting the ball out for a corner.
Arsenal were looking more dangerous in the second half, but it was Wigan that took the lead having barely threatened all game. Per Mertesacker slid in foolishly on Calum McManaman, taking the youngster out in the box, a clear penalty and an easy decision for the referee. After a lengthy break for a Monreal injury, Jordi Gomez stepped up for Wigan. Fabianski went the right way, but it was a solid penalty and out of his reach. 1-0 Wigan.
Olivier Giroud was brought on for Lukas Podolski late on to a chorus of boos. It was a strange reaction, as the German had been largely ineffective. With 10 minutes to go Sagna hit the post from a corner, the rebound cleared after a scramble in the box. And moments later Scott Carson made a fantastic save to preserve Wigan’s lead. He got a hand to Gibbs’ header, slowing it down as it approached the goal, allowing Crainey to clear off the line. It was getting tense at Wembley, and you could hear the crowd getting anxious. The man who conceded the penalty came to the rescue though, Per Mertesacker levelling things up. A corner came in, but it looked like it was going to come to nothing. The ball fell to Chamberlain on the edge of the box, but he mishit his shot. Mertesacker was at the far post though, and he headed past a helpless Carson. 1-1.
Giroud made space for a shot just before the whistle, Carson producing yet another fine save to deny the Frenchman. The teams inseparable after 90 minutes.
Extra time was fairly uneventful for the most part, both teams tiring, and seemingly content to play for penalties. The stand out moment was Chamberlain smashing a shot from distance, thumping off the upright and back into play. A further 30 minutes, the teams still level, time for the penalty shoot-out.
Lukasz Fabianski was the hero of the moment, saving Wigan’s first 2 penalties. This took the pressure off the rest of the team, Arteta, Kallstrom and Giroud slotting home calmly and confidently. Wigan got back to 3-2, but Santi Cazorla put his penalty straight down the centre and past a diving Carson to win it for Arsenal. 1-1 in open play, 4-2 in penalties, and a second trip to Wembley for Arsenal on the 17th.
on his emotions after the game…
Relieved because we were under big pressure because I expected a difficult game and I was not disappointed. Wigan were impressive, well-organised, physically very strong, calm when they had the ball and they played very well. They have shown why they knocked Man City out in the quarter-final and we had everything a little bit against us for a while in the game. We needed to show some character and some resilience and as well some nerves in a very united and resilient way.
on reaching the final…
Yes that’s the most pleasing because everybody expected us [to] on that front. We have seen again today that it was a cup game and the difference between winning and losing is very, very small and this game has shown that again. But even if we had lost I would have said that we were at the mental level that I expected, and hopefully that win today will give us a lift for the end of the season.
on Everton going back to fourth…
I didn’t even know the result and I think if we win our games we will finish in front. For us it’s important now to focus on the Premier League and if we do that well I’m confident we will come back. On top of that we have a target now for the end of the season. We have a final in the FA Cup but we now have a period where we can concentrate on the Premier League.
on this win being a springboard for future success…
It’s important mentally that we didn’t go out tonight. If you imagine the consequences of going out tonight, it’s quite worrying. I believe we have a good team, we have many players out and this morning Oxlade-Chamberlain was still not sure to be available, Gibbs was not available, plus all the other players who are out. We have a good squad but recently we were missing too many players.
He did very well. I think he’s a good goalkeeper and he has shown that again today. During the game, even on the penalty they scored he went the right way. He’s quick and in the penalties of course he put us in quite a comfortable way and into a good position.
on whether he was saving Giroud for Tuesday…
Not really. He was a bit tired recently and he played many games. I thought that we needed some fresh legs.
Here are some of the top tweets from today’s game:
“Arteta playing very deep. Almost a third centre back. It’s beautiful to watch, graceful as a herd of Brachiosaurs.”
“F**k me I feel like crying”
“BFG!!!! @Mertesacker @TimoMertesacker”
“Whoever came up with the ‘drink responsibly’ slogan was clearly not an Arsenal fan.”
“If Giroud scores the winner, I wouldn’t even hesitate to give him my mother for the night.”
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Sagna Mertesacker Vermaelen(c) Monreal
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