Arsenal* 1 - 1 Wigan
Arsenal’s season was in need of revival, and their trophy cabinet was in even more need of an addition.
They travelled to Wembley to face Championship side Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup semi-final, but in all truth, you couldn’t call it. Not with Arsenal’s poor recent form.
The Gunners started well though. They were moving forward quickly, using the ball well and managed to create a few early chances.
However, as the clock ticked on at Wembley, Arsenal’s dominance wavered. Wigan on the other hand, were starting to find their feet, and were holding on to possession well whenever they got hold of it.
Arteta, Podolski and Cazorla were all offering up the usual. Nothing.
The Latics were attacking well themselves - particularly through McManaman and McEachran. Meanwhile, Arteta, Podolski and Cazorla were all offering up the usual. Nothing.
Ramsey, Chamberlain and Sanogo were the only players making positive moves, and some attacks very nearly came off. But only nearly.
Before long, th half-time whistle blew, and Wigan were by far the happier team. The pressure was now well and truly on Arsenal.
The second half wasn’t much better performance wise.
Wigan were throwing everything they had forward, and Arsenal just didn’t look interested.
It took The Gunners an agonising twenty minutes for the equalizer to arrive…
In the sixty-fourth minute, the game took a turn for the worse. Mertesacker lunged into a tackle inside the box, and the referee pointed to the spot. After Monreal was stretched off and replaced by Gibbs, Jordi Gomez stepped up and smacked it home. Arsenal were in trouble.
It took The Gunners an agonising twenty minutes for the equalizer to arrive. A mis-hit Chamberlain shot found Mertesacker at the back post, who headed home from close range.
The rest of the game didn’t contain much for either side. Instead, extra time was on the cards.
Both halves of extra time passed without incident. Although, a superb Chamberlain long-shot - which thundered back off the crossbar in the second half of extra time - was a sight to behold.
Wigan never really got forward, and were obviously banking on a penalty shootout win.
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Penalty Score: Arsenal 4 - 2 Wigan
In the end, the real hero was Lukas Fabianksi, who pulled off to very good penalty saves, allowing the Arsenal penalty takers to finish the job comfortably.
Arsenal Player Ratings
Had one dodgy moment late in the second half when he rushed very far off his line, but did well otherwise. His two penalty saves in the shootout though, were vital.
Battled hard all game, put in some tough tackles and whipped in some good crosses. Impressive performance from Bacary today.
Had a quiet first half, but followed it up with a poor tackle in the box in the second period, leading to Wigan’s goal. He made up for it with his headed equalizer soon after though. Otherwise, he was solid defensively.
Wasn’t given much protection, but he really put in a captain’s performance tonight. He won tackles and headers well, was first to most balls, and looked passionate. That’s the Vermaelen I know and love.
Looked sluggish all game, and was stretched off just before Wigan’s penalty. Replaced b Gibbs.
Showed some great feet and passing in the opening few minutes, but wilted with every passing moment. He was slow to chase back, his tackling wasn’t great and he simply refused to pass a ball forwards. However, he kept a cool head to score Arsenal’s first penalty.
What an awful performance from Santi. He made no creative effort to get Arsenal moving positively, despite playing in his favoured CAM role. His passing was average at best throughout the game, and his set pieces were poor. Scored the winning penalty though.
Lukas was anonymous tonight once again. He made almost no runs forward, didn’t give Monreal protection, and just coasted through the match. Replaced by Giroud.
The Ox: [8.5/10] - MOTM
Arsenal’s best player on the night. He was constantly pushing the team forward, making runs and linking up well with Sanogo and Ramsey. Had a brilliant shot hit the bar late in the match.
Not a great game for Aaron, but he’s still fresh back from injury. He showed some good passes and touches, but didn’t burst into the box like we’ve got used to. Great to have him back.
Sanogo missed a few opportunities today, but none were clear-cut chances. He had a few decent shots on goal, and probably worked harder than anybody else in the team. He cleared corners, made runs, won headers and held the ball up well. Promising.
Looked energetic and positive, but wasn’t making anything happen. He had quite a few chances to shoot, but passed instead, and he also managed to screw up one promising attack consisting of him and Ramsey to win the game late on.
Did well defensively, but didn’t make much of an impact going forward.
Had one shot go terribly wide, although it was a difficult chance. Looked comfortable otherwise, and scored a penalty in the shootout.
Off to Wembley (Again)
Hardly a beautiful game to watch, but a win is a win, and we’re now due a second visit to Wembley.
Arteta, Cazorla and Podolski were the three suspects in midfield who stifled Arsenal’s game. The former got more and more sluggish as the game went on, whilst the latter two simply did nothing positive.
Wigan put up a good fight too though, and in the end, it took penalties to decide it. I gave Chamberlain the MOTM award, but in fairness, Fabianksi was the hero.
Now, just one game stands between us and silverware. Let’s just hope our season has some more fuel left in the tank.