4 Talking Points From Arsenal’s FA Cup Semi Final Win Over Wigan

By on April 13, 2014

Lukasz-Fabianski-Arsenal

Arsenal secured their place in the final of the FA Cup with a penalty shoot-out win over Wigan at Wembley after a 1-1 draw on Saturday. Here, gunner333 gives us 4 talking points from the game.

With Premier League title hopes gone, Arsenal were able to find promise in this year’s FA Cup. After calmly dispatching Everton in the last round, they were two victories away from a first trophy for nearly a decade. Cup holders Wigan Athletic stood in wait and Arsenal fans would be nervous with the Latics more than capable of spoiling the party.

There were a few raised eyebrows upon Wenger’s team selection, with the Frenchman opting to pick young, inexperienced Yaya Sanogo as oppose to our danger-man Olivier Giroud. Club-captain Thomas Vermaelen also started in place of absent Laurent Koscielny, whilst Ramsey and Fabianski also got the nod.

The game began and Arsenal created the first threat on goal. Oxlade-Chamberlain bearing down on goal before his well hit cross met the head of Sanogo, the Frenchman’s downward header matched by keeper Scott Carson. Wigan were then stretched moments later as an Arsenal corner was whipped in, resulting in Bacary Sagna to head over from an awkward angle, Wigan let-off yet again.

A barrage of Arsenal chances opened up in the first half and the final came when Sanogo was set clean ahead of the defence, only for Carson to be called up once again. A frustrating first-half for Wenger’s men who had failed to make the most of their opportunities.

The second-half got underway and Arsenal looked to adopt a similar attitude to that of the first, with the defence playing increasingly deep and the midfield always looking to get the ball forward.

This attacking attitude was the eventual downfall of the Gunners play though and Monreal’s collapse gave McManaman space to charge into, leaving Arsenal vulnerable. The Englishman’s continued run lead to an inevitable foul. Mertesacker committed at full-stretch giving referee Michael Oliver no choice but to point to the spot.

A chorus of Arsenal boos was unable to distract penalty-taker Jordí Gomez, who converted under pressure and sparked a roar of Latic ecstasy. Now 1-0 up, Wigan were doing there best to push Mr. Wenger ever closer to the exit door.

Arsenal needed a response and that’s what they got. Sanogo firstly miss-firing a difficult chance before rattling the woodwork moments later. Gibbs’ later denied by Crainey’s goal-line clearance handed Wigan the initiative to further frustrate the Londoners.

Despite the recurring romance of the FA Cup, Wigan could not hold onto there slim lead and Arsenal eventually found an equaliser. A corner ball cannoned out to Oxlade-Chamberlain who flung the ball into the area, Mertesacker met the ball with a far post header and settled Arsenal nerves. Back with a bang, the German powerhouse rectified his earlier mistake to put the scores level.

Giroud had a late half-chance which was comfortably taken by Carson, but the whistle was blown to send the game into an extra thirty minutes.

Extra time brought no fewer than a collection of minuscule chances, Oxlade-Chamberlain with by far the best of them. His quick burst followed up by a thunderous strike at goal nearly capping off his man-of-the-match deserving performance. The additional thirty reached the end of its tether and penalties were required to decide the winner of this cruel clash.

Wigan failed to hit the ground running in the shoot-out, Caldwell and Collison both casualties with Arsenal going 2-0 up. Beausejour, Giroud and McArthur all then converted but it was Santi Cazorla who finished off the Latics with his decisive spot-kick. The Gunners 4-2 winners on penalties and Cup finalists  once again with Hull City the opposition in the final after they beat Sheffield United 5-3 today.

Here I will now analyse four talking points from the game;

1) Paper Over The Cracks?

Amidst the current celebratory time for Arsenal fans it is probably best for me to open with the negatives and get them out of the way. A semi-final victory will seldom bring doubts but after witnessing a dire display at certain stages in this game, and against a Championship side, Arsenal fans can be forgiven for coming down hard on their beloved side.

Wenger’s decision to play Sanogo instead of Giroud was the perfect metaphor for his lack of desire and inability to utilise the ability within his ranks to full potential. With his contract up in the Summer, Wenger will be surely eager to gain some silverware to paper over the cracks and keep him in for another season.

Despite this borderline derisory tone, I along with many Gooners am thrilled with this progress and whatever is said, we showed great character to win under some exceptionally tough circumstances. Our class and psychological prowess was evident in the shoot out and our second half performance deserved the result.

2) Fabianski – More Than A Hero

When a penalty shoot-out arises, all the hard work executed throughout the game unravels in ten minutes of sharp-shooting. In this situation you need a fine group of strong-minded players and a top keeper. Fabianski was that top keeper.

His excellent reflexes saved Wigan’s first two penalties, handing us a massive advantage and took pressure off our other spot-kick takers. All through the game he compounded himself as a dominant figure and as mentioned was clinical when required.

His heroic display capped another fine performance and he looks great competition for Szczesny at present. As an Arsenal fan, one can only hope a follow-up of this in the final and he may perhaps be persuaded to sign a new deal.

3) Playing Deep

A number of our players played more advanced yesterday and rightfully so. We had great intention to attack the game and despite Wenger’s odd poor selection choice his line-up did possess great attacking traits.

Ramsey, often a front-foot orientated player, was played in Flamini’s normal role alongside Arteta. This allowed us to gain some more speed and agility in front of defence and we were able to turn defence into attack much quicker than if Arteta was to do so himself.

4) Striking Choices For Final

The decision to start Sanogo in the penultimate game of England’s cup competition will most likely go forgotten now, but it was certainly a poor one. Not to say we should dwell upon it, but the Frenchman fluffed chance-after-chance whilst Giroud may have done the job correctly.

Going into arguably our most important game since the 2006 Champions League Final, Wenger must think carefully about how he’ll set us up and how to utilise the wide areas more efficiently. For now let’s just enjoy being in a cup final and see where we go from here…

Thanks for reading , Congratulations the Arsenal and  feel free to comment below.

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