We had to wait 120 minutes for it to be right, but our order of penalty takers was spot on, as was the choice of players who were chosen to take them. Arsene got that all absolutely right, just as he did with standing by Lukasz Fabianski…
As for the rest of the match, well…………
We started well though and came out of the blocks with a bit of purpose. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in particular stood out, he was here, there and everywhere and getting forward either with or without the ball.
Yaya Sanogo headed an Oxlade-Chamberlain cross against the legs of Carson within the first minutes – a foot either side of the keeper and we’d have taken the early lead we needed. Just before the half hour mark, Bacary Sagna fired a difficult chance high…
Sanogo had another chance soon after but that to went high and wide and then his inexperience shone through when he looked like going clear through on goal. His first touch was awful and Carson stopped any attack with ease.
I was one of a few who really wanted Yaya Sanogo to start, believing his pace and enthusiasm would give us something so different up front and to be fair it did. But his control and finishing was far from being good enough but to be fair to him, he didn’t stop, he didn’t sulk and as the game went on some of his passing was pretty good and he had one great shot which took a fine save from Carson to stop it finding the back of the net.
Despite all of the possession, we had slowly gone back to being that sideways, backwards and boring football side and it wasn’t pleasing on the eye….
Just before the hour mark, Per Mertesacker chopped down McManaman, penalty given, goal scored!
During the build up for the goal, Nacho Monreal suffered an injury (no doubt we will hear more from Arsene on that) and had to be replaced by Kieran Gibbs.
Just that change alone gave us far more impetus going forward….
Olivier Giroud was warming up and set to come on, I thought in place of Sanogo but no, Lukas Podolski was the man to make way. Strange one but we did look a little better playing 442.
Into the last 15 minutes of the match and it looked like it wasn’t going to be our day when Sagna saw his header hit the post and just after, Kieran Gibbs looked like he’d got the equaliser but somehow, Scott Carson made a superb save to push the ball wide….
82 minutes on the clock and all Gunners hearts were lifted.
Sanogo laid the ball off for Oxlade-Chamberlain, his shot bounced through to Mertesacker who was just wide of the far post and the big fella somehow managed to guide his header home..
The final whistle came and soon after, the start of extra time begun..
Sanogo had a good shot tipped over and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fired a rasper which annoyingly rattled the crossbar.
That was pretty much it…
Penalties it was and Mikel Arteta, Kim Kallstrom, who had come on for Aaron Ramsey,Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud all fired home their spot kicks.
Lukasz Fabianski was the hero as he saved both penalties from Caldwell and Collison.
That was enough to see us go through to our first FA Cup Final since 2005….
The performance left a lot to be desired that’s for sure, but we got there in the end and I for one am pleased as punch…
Many things have been going wrong for a while now, but let’s not be too hasty to forget all the good Arsene Wenger has done for our club. He brought us some great players, his arrival made sure Dennis Bergkamp stayed and he won trophies after suffering many barren years..
I haven’t a clue what the future holds for our manager but if he is planning to walk away at the end of this season, I truly hope it’s with the FA Cup held high because surely to goodness, he deserves it.
Finally, I want to wish Bob Wilson all the very best as he is set to undergo treatment for prostate cancer. Be strong big guy, you can fight it and win the battle……
That’s your lot for another day…..