Category Archives: FA Cup
The great thing about supporting a football team is that despite having so many bad times, there’s always a little speck of light at the end of a very dark tunnel, as fans remain optimistic that the team they support would turn up with a better performance in the next game.
Despite the shocking display at Goodison Park last week Sunday, there has been a lot of tension at the club as many believe that it’s high time the club invests in a new manager. Then there was the Santi Cazorla interview where he spoke about the team’s lack of winning mentality as well as the club’s failures to address it’s depth issues last summer. There are five Premier League games to fight for as well as two potential FA Cup clashes, so the players have to rally themselves and fight for their lives in the club’s bid to end it’s long-standing trophy drought.
As for the issue of the depth of the squad, that remains in the hands of Arsene Wenger or maybe. that new young hotshot that would come in his place. With the club’s financial stability the envy of the football world, Arsenal can compete with their rivals to challenge for major honors but they have to sort a couple of things this summer. With the World Cup serving as a distraction, let’s hope that the club will invest early enough, instead of waiting till September 1, 2014 to make a couple of late signings.
Tomorrow, Arsenal has a date with destiny as the fabled ‘giant-killers’, Wigan Athletic, come to Wembley for a place in the final against either Sheffield United or Hull City. Arsenal’s run to the semis has seen them play three Premier League teams as well as a Championship side but it’s also worth noting that all these games have been played at home.
Tottenham were the first to visit the Emirates in January under the new management of Tim Sherwood and it took two goals from Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky to send the Gunners to the fourth round. A comfortable home clash against Coventry City followed and Lukas Podolski shined the brightest as the Gunners ran riot past their opponents.
Following the 5-1 drubbing in the hands of Liverpool at Anfield, the second game in the space of a week was a cautious affair but the Gunners had enough in the tank to ease past the title challengers and the quarterfinal clash against Everton turned out to be a routine affair as the Gunners gazumped Everton.
It’s also worth noting that the Gunners’ second-choice goalie, Lukasz Fabianski, has been the custodian between the sticks in all these encounters and the manager has confirmed that he’d play tomorrow, despite the fact that Fabianski has set his sights elsewhere after refusing to sign a new deal,
Let’s play on Saturday. You play football on your merit and your performance and he [Fabianski] has turned up with top-level performances until now in every single game. You could say that even after the game, he has done extremely well. He has been man of the match in the three games.
“When you are a professional you work until the last day of your contract. That’s for me being professional. All the rest has nothing to do with professionalism.”
At least we are sure of one player that would grace the starting line up in Wembley tomorrow.
It has been a great run thus far and with Manchester City taking out Chelsea before their shock loss to Wigan in the quarterfinals. If the Gunners were facing the Citizens with their current form, the fans would have been very pessimistic but fate has allowed the Gunners to have a real chance of winning silverware after nine long years.
A match preview of the Wigan game would be published tomorrow morning.
After the Gunners ran riot past Everton to be the first team to book a semifinal place, the onus was on the remaining six teams to show that they were worthy of a semifinal place.
It began with a lower division affair as Sheffield United scored the goals against Charlton Athletic that was enough to send them to a fairytale semifinal place. If their chairman and manager were told at the start of the season that they’d be in the FA Cup semifinal, i’m sure that they might have taken such news with a pinch of salt. As we’ve reached the business end of the competition, the Blades are a game away from what would be a Utopian final.
Elsewhere, two Premier League sides in the forms of Hull City and recent Capital One Cup finalists, Sunderland. The Black Cats led Manchester City after just 10 minutes and if the referee somehow managed to blow the final whistle at that point in time, Sunderland would have booked a Europa League place. However, it was not to be as goals from Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas won the trophy for the Citizens.
Yesterday, Sunderland put up a shocking performance as Hull ran them ragged to book a semifinal clash against Sheffield United.
The final quarterfinal match was a repeat of last season’s final as Manchester City were overwhelming favorites to crush Wigan Athletic. The Latics scored a late goal in Wembley to win the competition at the oilers expense and it cost Roberto Mancini his job. With Manchester City already having the Capital One Cup in the bag, many had tipped them to win a domestic Cup double.
As the game hit center stage, Arsenal fans were concerned to know that they were going to play the winners of this clash and given their recent 6-3 spanking in the hands of Manchester City, it wasn’t a prospect many of them were looking forward to.
To everyone’s amazement and the sheer delight of Arsenal fans worldwide, Jordi Gomez converted the spot kick that handed Wigan the lead. A good day got even better when James Perch scored Wigan’s second and my elation knew no bounds. Manchester City got back into the game with a goal from Nasri and it was nail-biting stuff towards the end of the game but Wigan held on!
So there you have it – Hull vs. Sheffield and Arsenal vs. Wigan. Only four teams left in football’s oldest cup competition and Arsenal, yes, Arsenal stands a great chance of ending the trophy drought with two more victories. Wigan has shown their mettle as well as garnering a reputation as ‘giant killers’ but Arsene Wenger of all people would know what winning the FA Cup would do to his team.
In rather simpler terms, the FA Cup is now Arsenal’s to loose.
The last time Everton played at the Emirates Stadium in December, they ran their hosts ragged and fully deserved a point after Gerard Deulofeu’s lovely strike cancelled out Mesut Ozil’s opener. With the Gunners knowing that all that stood between them and a place in Wembley was Roberto Martinez and his team, they had to put up a better showing than that horrid performance against Stoke.
Without further ado, here are my thoughts on the Gunners victory over Everton.
All Hands on Deck Should go to the FA Cup
For those that don’t know, Arsenal has booked a place in the semifinals of the competition they last won in 2005. That seems to be a very long time in football but seeing the Gunners book a semifinal berth is a prospect we need to relish and capitalise on. Currently, Manchester City seems to be the only other ‘big team’ left but there have been banana skins here and there, so the Gunners would have to be mindful about who they meet in the next round.
With the FA Cup serving as the most realistic chance of winning silverware, the Gunners have to put all hands on deck in this competition. At least, Wenger’s starting line up proves so.
Finally…a Goal for Ozil and a Great Performance too
Mesut Ozil has been on the end of some heavy criticism following his poor run of form and as expected from a guy that cost a fortune, many fans weren’t pleased with his recent outings. However, yesterday brought an upturn in his fortunes as he latched unto Santi Cazorla’s carefully threaded pass to side foot the ball home.
Ozil capped a great day at the office with a neat assist to Olivier Giroud late on. I hope he carries this form to the Allianz Arena on Tuesday and I have a bunch that he has a personal vendetta with Bayern Munich after he missed the penalty that took the wind off Arsenal’s sails.
A Tale of the Purple Patch Giroud – A Good Game Today and a Poor Game Tomorrow
With Wenger’s blatant refusal to sign a striker in January, he made his stance clear that he has his full blown faith in the current striking lot at his disposal, Olivier Giroud, the alpha-dog in attack and his deputies, Yahaya Sanogo and Nicklas Bendtner.
Sanogo got the nod ahead of Giroud and didn’t do half bad but Giroud arrived on the pitch to devastating effect, banging in a brace which put the game beyond doubt. However, that has been Giroud’s story this season, one game he’s an exciting player to watch, another game you might want to ask for his head on a plate.
With 10 games left to play in the League as well as Cup competitions around the corner, Arsenal will need all the goals they can get if they want to win a trophy. As the chief striker, Giroud is meant to lead that charge and I hope he can maintain some consistency in the run-in.
Arsene Wenger is regarded as the club’s most successful manager for more reasons than one. We all know that he’s involved in every facet of the club and has moulded the team from ‘boring boring Arsenal’ to one of the most entertaining sides in world football.
Even though the club is going through a trophy drought at the moment, there was a period in Arsene Wenger’s career with the club when he was synonymous with winning trophies. In 1998, Wenger won the League and Cup double after defeating Newcastle in the FA Cup final while ending Manchester United’s hold on the title. The Red Devils went on to win the league for three seasons in a row but the Wenger boys hit them hard again with a League and Cup double in 2002, which was made sweeter with the fact that Slyvian Wiltord’s goal at Old Trafford won the league for his club.
Robert Pires missed a considerable chunk of that campaign through injury but he scored the vital goal in the FA Cup final of 2003 against Southampton as the Gunners retained the FA Cup. After a tough and exhilarating final against Manchester United in 2005, Patrick Vieira scored the penalty that gave his team the trophy but unfortunately, that has been the club’s last piece of silverware.
Since then, there have been a couple of near misses that hurt anytime Arsenal fans remember them. There was the Champions League final against Barcelona in 2006, the Carling Cup final against Chelsea in 2007, the disappointing Premier League campaign of 2008 and most recently, the unfathomable Carling Cup defeat to Birmingham City in 2011.
Since winning the FA Cup in 2005, the Gunners have been very disappointing in subsequent campaigns as they lost away to Bolton and Blackburn shortly afterwards. In 2008, it was a massacre at Old Trafford as Manchester United ran riot and in 2009, Didier Drogba continued his impressive record against the club as the Gunners crashed out in Wembley.
2010 left the Gunners with a bitter taste in their mouths after they lost at the Britannia to Stoke and in 2011, Manchester United knocked the Gunners out again but the game will be remembered with the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson fielded seven defenders in his starting XI. In the past two seasons, a horrible pitch in the Stadium of Light and a putrid home performance against Blackburn saw the Gunners crash out of this illustrious competition.
This season has seen the Gunners defeat Spurs, Coventry and Liverpool to book a quarterfinal berth against Everton which takes place tomorrow but many Arsenal fans will be hoping that this might just be the season .
Without further ado, here are a couple of reasons why the Gunners have to take the FA Cup seriously.
Firstly, and most importantly, the FA Cup remains Arsenal’s most REALISTIC chance of winning silverware this season. With the Gunners facing a daunting prospect against Bayern Munich in Europe and the club’s shaky form in the Premier League, Wenger should put all hands on deck in the FA Cup. The competition has sprung a couple of surprises this season and I expect the same it progresses.
Another reason for the Gunners to take this competition seriously would be generating some momentum and restoring belief to the team that they can go all the way. A loss has a way of bringing in doubts in a team but these players need to pick themselves up from the Stoke debacle to respond against an impressive Everton side.
It’s going to be an exciting game and I can only hope that the Gunners progress to the semifinals to play at Wembley .
With the Gunners suffering a drubbing in the hands of yesterday’s opponents a week ago, there was an air of caution at the Emirates. With half an eye on the crunch Champions League clash against Bayern Munich, Arsene Wenger made a couple of changes to the squad with Lukasz Fabianski, Carl Jenkinson, Nacho Monreal, Mathieu Flamini, Lukas Podolski and to everyone’s surprise, Yaya Sanogo getting a run out.
Liverpool were the quickest off the blocks with Steven Gerrard feeding Daniel Sturridge on the edge of the area. The English forward blasted a one-timed shot that was saved by Fabianski. Luis Suarez chipped a delicate ball to Sturridge’s path and the striker skipped past Fabianski but his shot hit the side netting.
Shortly after Monreal got himself booker for a nasty challenge on Joe Allen, Sanogo and the Ox combined superbly on the right flank but the ball ran out of the line before the Ox could cross it into the danger area. Arsenal’s first meaningful attack arrived when Per Mertesacker flicked a corner with a looping header but Brad Jones was on hand to tip it over the bar.
Arsenal’s breakthrough arrived when Mikel Arteta’s cross was deflected into Sanogo’s path. The French striker blasted the ball on Daniel Agger’s back before the Ox reacted the quickest to place the ball past Jones.
Raheem Sterling skipped past Jenkinson on the right and bore down on goal but his shot slammed the side netting. Arsenal swiftly launched a counter attack but Podolski sliced his effort wide. Ozil instigated another attacking move with a lovely pass to Podolski but with Sanogo in acres of space, Poldi’s cross was rather erratic.
Luis Suarez got on the end of a long ball and blasted a first-timed shot that was saved by Fabianski. In the start of the second half, Suarez had another chance that was saved by the Flying Fab. With Liverpool failing to take the initiative, Arsenal launched a counter attack and when the Ox cut the ball into the danger area, Podolski reacted first to blast the ball past Jones.
With Suarez missing yet another chance, Arsenal almost made their lead more comfortable when Ozil blasted a goal bound effort that was failed superbly by Jones. Suarez won a penalty for his side after he was brought down courtesy of a clumsy challenge by Podolski. Gerrard sent Fabianski the wrong way to break Arsenal’s long standing clean sheet record at the Emirates.
Suarez was blatantly fouled by the Ox afterwards but Liverpool’s appeals fell on deaf ears. Arsene Wenger brought on Santi Cazorla for Podolski and he was gifted a chance by Martin Skrtel but he blasted his shot over the bar.
Kieran Gibbs came on for the Ox to add some defensive stability but an error from Laurent Koscielny allowed Liverpool a foray at Arsenal’s goal but Suarez’ shot was saved by Fabianski. After a couple of half chances from Liverpool, Wenger brought on Giroud to replace Sanogo.
Late on, there was a comical moment when Fabianski attempted to waste some time by tying his shoelaces but Sturridge did him the honors and told him to get on with the game.
The ref’s whistle was last music to the ears of Arsenal fans as they have booked a place in the FA Cup quarterfinals against another Merseyside outfit, Everton.