Finals are a beautiful thing. I can say this now we’ve reached one for the first time since, what is it, one hundred years? What’s that you say? We last reached a final in 2007?
Oh, ok then,
Arsenal, being Arsenal, made sure that we were all nice and nervous by the time they finally put the game to bed. We were dominant, of that there is no doubt, but we lacked a cutting edge, and when Van Persie hit the woodwork after another great cross by Bendtner, you would have been a very brave person if you didn’t wonder, if only for the briefest of seconds, if this was going to be another ‘one of those days.’
It was Bendtner, who had received a lot of stick all evening (and I’ll hold my hands up, I was one of those asking for him to be replaced) who managed to control a long ball beautifully, take a touch which bamboozled the defender and then curl it in to the far corner. It was splendid goal and shows the potential he has. This is no time for negativity, so that’s where I’m going to leave it on the subject of Bendtner.
We were far better than in the first leg, not as good as we have been in matches since then, but it was always going to be only a matter of time before we broke them down. That Arshavin could have what seemed to be another horror-show yet still finish with two assists (and the credit for winning the corner from which our second goal came with his closing down) is a measure of the talent of the man. He worked his ass off, and while most things he touched fell apart, he never stopped trying, he never let his head drop, and he got his reward.
Well done Andrei.
And what of the rest? Well, we didn’t have Sagna for very long, his face meeting Chesney’s head resulting in a trip to casualty for the Frenchman and Eboue being brought on at right-back. Arshbend Denboue were on the pitch alongside half of Theo Van Nasregas for possibly the first time in history. Kos and Djourou were once again great at the back, Clichy was solid, Eboue was, well, Eboue.
The much-maligned Denilson put in a good shift, his tackling seemed stronger and his willingness to cover every blade of grass impressive. Cesc’s passing was sublime, his long balls hitting their target with ease, and he got a goal, something he enjoyed more than anyone else on the pitch. Jack Wilshere, voted Man of the Match on Arsenal.com put in yet another performance which belies his age. That he is doing all this at only 19 is a mouth-watering prospect. In the first half, Nik worked hard but nothing seemed to work for him, but the fact that he dropped himself back in to right back when Sagna was receiving treatment points to an awareness in his game that we maybe don’t see all the time. He was far more effective when he was switched to the left in the second half, enabling him to cut inside on to his favoured right. Van Persie showed his class with his work-rate, touch, vision, and if he’d only headed the ball down he’d have scored instead of hitting the woodwork for the 300th time this season.
What is great about this win is that we never gave up trying, Even when it was getting hard, when the crowd were getting restless, we keep pushing, kept pressing and the more Ipswich tried to push us back the harder we pushed in the opposite direction.
The relief around the Emirates was palpable when Nik scored the first. When Kos scored with what looked like the back of his head, the crowd started to truly believe that the run of bad-luck and bad finishing which had seen us fall at so many final hurdles in years gone past, might finally have run out.
But there is still the final to overcome. We’ve made it to Wembley, but there is still another match to play. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but let’s enjoy the fact that we’ve made a final in a year when we are under even more pressure than normal to win a trophy. It’s the first final of the year that we could reach, and we’ve done that.
You really can’t ask for more than that can you?
In other news, Craig Eastmond has gone on loan to Millwall, Martin Angha has signed professional terms with the club and Wenger has said he would be ‘very surprised’ if we signed anyone in this window.
As @sianymacalarny said, it’s no wonder we don’t sign anyone – Wenger thinks it’s someone else’s job!
If you missed it earlier, you simply HAVE to listen to this interview with Richard Keys as he climbs in to the hole he made for himself and simply starts digging.
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