Feels glorious, doesn’t it. That sweeping euphoria of knowing that Arsenal have not let you down and that we will be front and centre when Wembley hosts the semi-finals. Whatever you may think about games other than the final taking place at the national stadium, being able to say, “Arsenal are going to Wembley” has an undeniably mellifluous ring to it.
Yesterday was a great performance when one was needed. Before kick off and up until we took an unassailable 3-1 lead, I couldn’t relax. My stomach churned, I paced and thought of nothing other than the fact there was a game. I often write about that sensation. At times it must come across as complaint when it is anything but. Feeling so on edge, so worried, is a beautiful thing; it means Arsenal are playing in a match that’s important.
And the FA Cup is important. It may have lost some of its prestige and gloss in recent years when held in comparison to certain European competitions, but the traditionalist in me still loves it above all others. During the game you could see both supporters and players alike felt the same way.
If you read this blog you’ll know I don’t like to write a blow-for-blow account on the game’s incidents. I kinda feel it’s a bit pointless as, by now, you’ll all have seen the game and know exactly what occured. Instead, I prefer to talk of the players who directly contributed the most or caught my eye during the game. Yesterday there were quite a few examples so I shall single them out one by one.
- We all know the guy is brilliant. His form may have dropped a little in recent weeks and he’s been on the receiving end of some hugely unfair criticism. Against Everton he was magnificent. He didn’t just provide guile and intelligence in attack, he also showed a willingness to scrap for loose balls and track back with his defensive responsibilities. Someone of his stature can inspire others by doing something so simple. With a great finish and an assist to his name, comfortably my MOTM.
- Looked a little shaky at times – that air kick – but on the whole slipped into the position left vacant by Koscielny’s injury and put in a good performance. I do love Thomas. The emergence of Mertesacker and Koscielny as the Club’s first choice partnership can’t have been easy for him, but like the consummate professional he is, he’s never complained and always comes in and performs when needed.
- Looked a little lost and out of his depth at times, but there’s something about him I really like. The young Frenchman has started 3 games for Arsenal and they’ve hardly been small games against ‘lesser’ opponents. He may be raw and some distance from the finished article, but to focus on those elements takes away from the fact he has come in, done his best and never let the team down doing so. Given time to progress and develop, he could be a real asset for Arsenal.
- If, like me, you’re a staunch advocate of Flamini, touchy people on the Internet will assume this means you despise Mikel and everything he stands for. Not true at all. Whilst I have my preferences, I do hold Arteta in high regard and always have. The composure he showed to dispatch the penalty not once but twice to give Arsenal the lead was a wonderful insight into how his experience is vital.
- He can be an anathema to some because of his lack of the ostentatious. However, his work rate and team ethic is very, very good and it shouldn’t go unmentioned that his intelligence of movement regularly creates space for both himself and others. He came on for Sanogo and offered a more effective outlet at a time when the game was still in the balance. I still maintain he needs another striker at the club to both share the workload and offer competition, but his 2 goals yesterday show how valuable he is when on his game – his second being the finish to a wonderful team move.
All things taken into consideration, a wonderful day has had by all associated with Arsenal. There is still a way to go before glory is secured, but we are definitely in with a shout. 2 games stand between us and some of that delicious and elusive silverware and at I’d fancy us to beat anyone in a one-off match on neutral territory. The draw takes place later today and we have no reason to fear anyone. Bring it on.
That’s all for today, folks. I shall point you in the direction of the comments and bid you farewell as it’s time for me to go and enjoy some breakfast. Don’t be shy, drop me a line with your thoughts about the game and the performances.
I shall return tomorrow at the usual time with more. Until then, and as always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.