Arsenal Off To Wembley, Mahrez, Aubameyang And More…

Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea

Evening, folks.

My precious blogging time seems to be in short supply at the moment. This glorious review of last night’s semi-final victory was originally intended to be served early this morning. Alas, my hectic schedule of work, wedding planning, eating, rabbits and general foolishness prevented such things, and you’ll all have to make do with the evening slot. I know you’re all giddy with excitement at what I’ll have to say, so I’ll get right down to it and stop meandering.

Victory last night wasn’t pretty. For the majority of the game, I felt we edged it over Chelsea but it so happened that luck was on our side. Both our goals – especially Monreal’s double deflection – had a huge dollop of creamy good fortune. The performance was functional and efficient without looking like it would flirt with the spectacular. To summarise, we got the job done, and, frankly, that is all that matters.

Semi-final’s are often cagey, restrained affairs. For the first 10 minutes, the players looked jarringly nervy and I wasn’t surprised to see Eden Hazard, the p*ssy little gnome, waltz through the middle and slot to the ball past Ospina with relative ease. At 1-0 down I fully expected the worst. However, the team soon settled and Lady Fortune smiled on us. From the moment we equalised I didn’t see anything other than an Arsenal victory – with the scores at 1-1, Chelsea were in the driving seat, but that didn’t seem to be the case from their play.

By now, you’ll have all seen the game, so there’s little point dissecting each occurrence in the finest of detail. Instead, I thought I’d highlight our two stand-out performers; Monreal and Elneny. It’s no secret that Nacho is fast becoming an irreplaceable stalwart of the team and his goals/assists ratio this season is superb. He regularly gets the plaudits and deservedly so. We all love Nacho, he’s been superb all season when fit and especially so in the past two matches.

Elneny, on the other hand, has received a bit of blame and grumbles in recent weeks and I’ve said before that I find it very unfair. He’s not a spectacular midfielder. He isn’t Patrick Vieira or Zidane. He’s not going to cut a defence apart with sheer guile and technical ability. It’s not the type of player he is. What he does very well is quietly break up the opponents play and keep our play ticking over. Too often I find certain supporters of Arsenal have bizarre expectations of our players; they have to be an ethereal combination of Franz Beckenbauer, Johann Cruyff and Andres Iniesta or total they’re dogsh*t. There is no in-between. Elneny isn’t going to set the football world alight with incredible “tekkers” (I have no idea why I typed that word.. I f*cking hate that word) but he is a professional, dedicated member of the team that will always give 100%. I have all the time in the world for that kind of player. He has boundless enthusiasm, he defends well, he covers the centre-backs when they go wandering up field and he puts the good of the team before himself. He distribution is consistently up there with the best at Arsenal, as a cherry on top, he threw a bit of thinly-veiled abuse at Alexis today:

I’m not one for talking about Alexis as he’s United player now, so f*ck him, but it does appear he wasn’t exactly the most loved member of the dressing room. Some would have you believe the lack of well wishers was a PR stunt from the club, but that seems all a bit far-fetched to me. I can understand Arsenal would prefer the supporters not to be up in arms about Sanchez signing for United, but there isn’t anywhere the level of animosity compared to when Robin van Persie slithered in the same direction. Why would they bother to stop grown men wishing another grown man well?

Anyway… That’s all a thing of the past.

The future holds a cup final agains the undeniably impressive blue team from Manchester. It’ll be a tough day and a huge obstacle, but we proved it is possible in last season’s FA Cup and there’s no reason we can’t lift another trophy this year. We’ll just need to be bloody good on the day. We might even have a new face in the team by then.

The deal for Aubameyang still rumbles on and as we count down the days, that aching feeling of, “Arsenal are going to f*ck this up” appears more and more often. I’d like to think it’s just paranoia and all will be well, but occasional rumblings from the internet suggest negotiations might not be going to plan. That could very well be hogwash, but until it’s happened, anything can happen. I’m trying my best not to get too many of my hopes up…

Riyhad Mahrez was at the Emirates to watch the game last night, and that sent “2+2=37” journalism into overdrive. It turned out he was just there to meet up with N’Golo Kante as they still remain good friends. I imagine they did nothing more that go to Nando’s and longly reminisce over a shared affection for the works of Daniel Radcliffe.

That’s all for today, folks. I’ll be back tomorrow – at some point – with more wonderful content.

Until that time, and as always: thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Soundtrack to this post:

DJ Mehdi – ‘Pocket Piano”

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