FA Cup

FA Cup Final 14: Shattered

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The best emotion I can describe how I felt come full time yesterday (FA Cup Final) is shattered. By the looks of those all around me at the stadium and down Wembley Way after the game, I think they felt the same.

Shattered after a long and disappointing league season, shattered after taking Wigan to penalties, shattered after going down 2-0 after only 8 minutes, shattered after clawing our way back, shattered after going into Extra Time, shattered after the emotion of Rambo’s winner, and above all shattered after ending the so called ‘trophy drought’.

Yes I want the League and Champions League above all else, but when you get to a final, boy it’s great and you just want to win it. Having gone to the game with my dad (@papalolly) and my brother (@darren200374) we realised that we hadn’t gone to an FA Cup Final together since Andy Lineghan scored in the last minute in 1993. 21 years ago.

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There was an air of expectation, but also an air of concern that we would do an ‘Arsenal’. After 8 minutes of the game, you now know what an ‘Arsenal’ is. Self-implosion and not turning up are just 2 terms to describe it. Hull are dangerous at set-pieces, and Arsene’s seeming disregard for planning against our oppositions tactics looked like costing us again. In all the big games we have conceded (a few) very early. We are lucky Hull weren’t Liverpool, City or Chelsea. We were lucky that Keiran Gibbs was at the back post.

Through all the euphoria of Rambo’s winner, we must not forget Santi’s wonderful free-kick. I don’t think I’ve seen a better one from someone in an Arsenal shirt in such a big game. Make no doubt about it, it was that goal after everything that happened, won us the cup. The technique from that distance was amazing. McGregor did a 1991 Seaman (went with outside arm) but no goalie could stop that.

Many may say we were lucky, but after their 2nd and then Flappy’s well Flappy moment, they didnt have a sniff at goal. I wasn’t convinced we could pull it off. We were pedestrian for many parts and the 2 main fall guys were rightfully hauled off – Poldi and Ozil.

When Kos scored, there was really only 2 outcomes – we would win or it was going to penalties. I don’t think any of us could have taken another bout of that after Wigan.

Sonogo made a real difference purely because of his energy and someone finally giving it a real go bar Rambo. Can we just have 1 whole season of The Ox and Theo being fit, because with pace and energy we are a different proposition.

I tweeted last night that if anyone wanted to see what Jack brings to the table, just watch his cameo appearance. Arsene’s substitutions worked a treat. Rambo’s winner was a class act when you watch it again. He was taking pot shots all day and thankfully some calm cool finishing gave us the cup. When Giroud hit the bar and Gibbs missed a sitter, you would have thought our name wasn’t on the cup. Well it was.

I don’t do many “away” games but have been fortunate this season to go probably 3 out of 4 big winning ones (Dortmund, Wigan and Hull – the other being Spurs). Enjoy the videos from yesterday.

 

From Oblivion to Glory

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As I sit ready to watch the second FA Cup Semi Final of 2014, time to reflect back on yesterday’s first, which saw Arsenal equal Man Utd’s record of final appearances and seemingly a great change to equal their FA Cup successes.

Last week I joined the melancholy train of fans who said it is time for managerial change at Arsenal in the wake of the defeat by Everton. Enough was enough and it was interesting to feel that as we walked up Wembley Way, was this going to be Arsene’s last meaningful game. Defeat yesterday and you would have felt so.

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No matter how I felt, it is always exciting to be at Wembley. Only a max of 6 teams can get there every season,so we should have been pleased to be there and we were.

We were surprised by just how few Wigan fans there were in the ground. Of course for them this is the 3rd time in 2 seasons they have got here and hopefully for them hopefully a 4th is round the corner in the form of a Championship Play-Off Final. Also it is quite a long journey coupled with the fact Wigan is a real Rugby League city, not a football one.

So with the stadium having at least 75% gooners, it really felt like a home game and just makes a mockery of FA Cup Final ticket allocations where they will give each club about 25,000 tickets.

The scene was set for the Arsenal to really put their poor league form behind them and give this a real go. And after 5 mins it was looking this way as Songo was unlucky with his chance. Unfortunately, little did we know that would be our last real chance till about the 80th minute!

We were appalling for a majority of the game. We were clearly a team with zero confidence and zero game plan. Wigan came to ensure they got a lucky break and/or hold out till penalties. Of course they got both!

It was a poor lunge by Per for their penalty. No arguments.

From the minute Gomez scored Wigan’s penalty, the atmosphere within the Arsenal fans turned from nerves to anger. We simply could not see how we would score and it wasn’t because we were outplayed by Wigan, we just look dishevelled and wanting the season to finish with a whimper.

Some of the abusive language emanating from people around us levelled at the players and more specifically at the manager was dreadful, but it went on for about 20-30mins. At one point there was a brawl among Arsenal fans leading to Stewards being called it. Civil War had broken out again. Time for Arsene to go.

But up popped Per to make amends for his mis-demeanour following some good Arsenal pressure finally. We all felt we needed a 2nd before FT while the momentum was with us. Overall is was disgraceful to only show up from the 80th minute and of course at that point we would have taken ET and penalties. We were unlucky with a few chances from Gibbs and the Ox.

No matter how we won, we deserved it. Wigan didn’t register a shot at goal all game. But we should have put a Championship team to the sword. Wigan needed us to be off our game and we really were.

So on to penalties and I have been to hundreds of Arsenal games but this was my first ‘live’ penalty shoot-out. As I tweeted afterwards, hated the game but loved the penalties!

See Santi’s winning penalty here from where we were sitting:

So through we go to the final. But I couldn’t get over just how fickle fans we are. From literally wanting Wenger’s head on a plate to singing we are the worlds greatest team was remarkable.

The media may have a go at our over the top celebrations.It was a mixture of relief and real hope that we can shut the media up, because we have a real chance of ending this trophy ‘drought’. (As a side note, I havent heard once in any Liverpool game that it has been 24 years since they won the league.)

90mins away from a trophy. 90mins away from maybe Arsene’s swan song. 90mins away from ending Talksport’s Daily Arsenal. Just let that all sink in,