Arsenal’s Return To Form Books Return To Wembley


Arsenal 4 – 1 Everton

1 – 0 Özil (7)
1 – 1 Lukaku (33)
2 – 1 Arteta (69 pen)
3 – 1 Giroud (82)
4 – 1 Giroud (85)

A little bit more of north London will turn red in April as Wembley hosts Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final next month following a well deserved win over Everton yesterday. It was a quarter-final in the best traditions of the competition which saw a return of the attacking verve that makes last weekend’s flaccid performance in Stoke at once more baffling and frustrating. Arsenal worked hard for ninety minutes, never allowed to rest on their laurels by the visitors who were equally intent on emerging victorious, for the first hour at least.

The spotlight has shone in Mesut Özil’s direction with the eye-catching calmness of his seventh minute finish capping a fine afternoon for the German. It wasn’t the Man of the Match performance, Santi Cazorla was pivotal in everything good about Arsenal yesterday. From the opening blast until the last shrill peep of Mark Clattenburg’s whistle, the Spaniard was an effervescent attacking presence. Capitalising on McCarthy’s eagerness to dispossess, Cazorla scurried through the space created and laid off an exquisitely weighted and timed pass for Özil to slide into the bottom corner. With less than ten minutes gone, it was the perfect tonic for the game, ensuring that it did not descend into a tactical mire.

If Cazorla was the attacking brains, Oxlade-Chamberlain was the heartbeat of the side producing an energetic performance that captured the essence of Arsenal yesterday afternoon. His hard work reflected the depth to which pride had been stung in the Potteries, if he lost the ball, his was the boot which recovered possession down the pitch. It was that sort of collective effort which had been sorely missing for the last few weeks and one which makes it hard for the manager to leave the player out of the side. Such matches raise expectations around a player and Oxlade-Chamberlain is no different. It’s hard to be the saviour when you aren’t in the side but even harder when you know that labels like that are transient. I am not sure it is a tag which suits the player either, his impact is more of a catalyst, rousing his colleagues to action with his own energy and effort rather than dazzling skills.

Everton played their part in the tie. Like Arsenal, they were well-organised defensively and poured forward purposefully with such numbers that they were always vulnerable to the counter-attacking skills of their hosts. Barkley and Mirallas were thorns in Arsenal’s side in that sense and that combination surged forward to create the equaliser, even if the latter had intended to find the net himself. Lukaku was grateful as the ball fell kindly for a close range and comfortable finish. Early in the second half, Barkley might have given Everton the lead; what impact on the outcome that would have wreaked is the subject of conjecture.

In between, you sensed that whilst Arsenal were not playing rope-a-dope, they were enticing Everton out from their eight-man defensive banks. What had been missing for a while returned with Oxlade-Chamberlain but also both full backs surging forward. Gibbs and Sagna both enjoyed space to bring width back to Arsenal’s game. The centre of the pitch was crowded but Arsenal were able to double-up on their opponents quickly and effectively to create opportunities throughout the match. With Giroud introduced as a substitute, the final thirty minutes were particularly effective in that respect.

The third and fourth both exploited Everton’s necessity to attack. Barry’s slack flail of the leg brought Oxlade-Chamberlain’s turn to an abrupt halt, Arteta despatched the penalty comfortably at both times of asking to restore the home side’s lead. The Spaniard took the first with aplomb and the second with power and accuracy. If anyone was watching, both were the ideal penalty leaving the goalkeeper little chance to prevent the ball from entering the net. From that moment, it was more a case of when Arsenal extended their lead and from Sagna’s drilled cross, Giroud slotted home having conducted a hippy, hippy shake to find space in the Everton area. The fourth came from the same source, Cazorla, Özil and Rosicky combining to provide the opportunity with five or so minutes to go.

Post-match Wenger was understandably pleased with the outcome, not just from the perspective of progress but also for Tuesday night,

It was important for us to win, to put us in a good mind on the psychological front. We can be inspired by our focus on the day, by our desire and go to Bayern with the same spirit. The statistics go against us when we go to Bayern, but let’s make sure that the performance goes for us. Then we have a chance.


Progress in the Champions League is a step too far but the home advantages have not been wasted in the FA Cup. Wenger has repeatedly said he has taken the competition seriously this season. A better description is more seriously than for many years with habitual rotation of the squad in the past proving costly. Reaching the semi-finals is indicative of what can be achieved but also of how relatively easy it is for the club to build a feelgood factor around competitions in isolation.

Wenger was heartened by the display from Özil, seemingly refreshed from the mid-winter malaise which struck him. Of course the first leg against Bayern affected the German, he wanted to do well against his countrymen and you suspect, justify the price tag. His response was nothing which we have seen before with Fabregas travelling the same downward spiral following defeat in the Camp Nou. These guys are human after all and the sense that they have failed on a professional and personal level will affect them; to expect otherwise is folly. Hopefully not just the goal but the whole performance will leave Özil reinvigorated for a crucial three match Premier League spell.

Equally, Cazorla’s vibrancy found a sparkle. Giroud likewise, seemingly putting his personal issues aside. A goal or two has never been known to suppress confidence in a player. Maybe it was the spring sunshine that brought a smile to the face, a spring in the step but it was so welcome after indifferent and inconsistent performances, collectively and individually. One result doesn’t show that the tide has turned but it certainly provides evidence that the waters are beginning to settle. And, in the sense of the occasion, a smile to the face of the supporters ahead of four tough upcoming fixtures.

Yellow ribbons are coming out of retirement and April may not be quite as merry as May but Arsenal are going to Wembley. Yes, it isn’t the final yet but a trip to the old new stadium has something of a ring about it.

’til Tomorrow.

85 thoughts on “Arsenal’s Return To Form Books Return To Wembley

  1. Great team effort,but I must point out the influence of the Ox, who really is shaping up to be a world class player. To my mind, he is like our Eden Hazard, a quick, fleet footed genius, who is always running at defences and sets the tempo of the team. What a future he has.

  2. Yw, thanks you for the review. I didn’t watch the game but I hope that we are now are back in our stride. One could sense that there was something missing about the Sunderland game before things went wrong at Stoke.

  3. I enjoyed that, thank you, Yogi.

    That was one of the games I have seen – and that Arsenal have played – for quite some time.

    I thought Everton played very well in fact, and it meant that no one could dismiss our performance as being against a ‘skeleton’ team without many of its top stars. Everton put out their strongest team, and were just not good enough when we turned up the wick.

  4. I couldn’t be more pleased emphatically beating Everton 4-1 after the home 0-0 draw in the BPL. This followed victories over Tottenham and Liverpool, with Coventry in between. I see us lifting the FA Cup and it’ll be a good way to end the season. This victory kick-starts our BPL run-in and inspire us in the CL.

  5. Great performance yesterday, the last 2 goals showed how we can move forward quickly with pace and sometimes I just don’t understand why we don’t do it more often. Semi-final at Wembley, but against who? When is the draw? Can’t find anything on BBC about the semi final draw?

  6. i love le ox for that attribute..
    if he loses the ball he doesnt stay down waving his arms at the ref asking for a foul while play continues 11 v 10..
    he gets up and goes after it and even for one so young its an attribute more experienced players in the side should be following..
    play to the whistle…even if you know the refs a plank you must always play to the whistle, complain about it later…

  7. girouds a quality striker…
    somebody who you can start by himself, start with somebody else due to his team ethic, or bring off the doesnt matter he can still win you matches…
    very much a team player its a pity we dont have a world class striker in the squad to complement him and the squad as i feel in some cases thats all weve lacked this year..
    seeing as though we are handing out new contracts lets get giroud tied down to another 4-5 years and the priority this summer should be a striker (again) and with theo back we’ll have a strikeforce up there with lverpools only with more depth, something that may hinder liverpool next season when they have to play 3 games a week with same front 3..

  8. It was a very pleasing game to watch…so full of positives that matched the spring feeling of the day. i agree with comments about the Ox (always feel uncomfortable using that name for him). He is a rare talent and such an honest and bright young man…as is Ramsey…how we have missed him…and Walcott too.

    Just a word about the Stoke ‘game’ which I feel many observers have neglected in their analyses. I feel that the a lot of our poor play was because of the Stoke ‘anti football’ of which the Adams trample was just the tip of the ice berg (which targeted Giroud) and when combined with weak refereeing and an absurd penalty decision on a small pitch in front of a herd of baying Orcs…it makes life very difficult for the Arsenal boys to actually play football. I am not abrogating the responsibility of our lads to play well…just pointing out that sometimes it becomes very difficult to do that because of factors outside our control. It is also interesting to note how little emphasis was put on these causal factors by the media (and Arsene)…which says so much about how the phobia within English football to be seen to be critical of the physical (thuggery) aspects of the game…as though to do so would threaten the very man hood of our national sport…any connection with the massive homophobia that grips English football?

  9. Great team effort, spearheaded by the Ox. Of our healthy players, he’s the only attacker who can reliably run at defenders with both power and pace.

    Kudo’s to AW for successfully resting some players ahead of Bayern. Giroud had the perfect 30′ runout. I do hope Ozil and Gibbs have enough left in the tank.

    Although some are suggesting we should face reality and treat this as a dead rubber, it’s never the Arsenal way to tactically accept defeat. We’ll choose the heartbreakingly close way every time!

  10. OK, we played well, deserved to win and rode our luck this year with a series of home draws. We are now in the semi-final.
    Now, we have Bayern on Tuesday and duly inspired, we have a real chance of progressing further in the CL.
    If we can come out fighting and get an early lead it’ll be “squeaky bum time” in the Fatherland and our chance for glory (with 11 men this time).

  11. I thought yesterday`s game is what the Cup should be all about. Teams very often reflect their manager (probably why Stoke are a bunch of c&nts) & Everton try to play properly , which allowed us to get our game going.

    Stand outs were obviously the OC , Santi & our much criticized German playmaker. The smile on his face after laying on the fourth gives hope that his sticky spell is finally over.

    Speaking of over , that`s what our CL hopes are. We almost caught Bayern out last season but they`re too good to let that happen again. I would give starts to 3 or 4 who haven`t played much of late , such as TV5 , Jenks & Podolski.

  12. Great post Yogi:

    I recorded the game and watched it last night. I think your analysis is perfect as always. I enjoyed that game as much almost any game I have watched for quite a while. I thought we played well the entire game and even I who admires good defense and pragmatism think its wonderful when we get a chance to play against a team that is willing to have a go at us the way Everton did. It would truly be awesome if every team in the league played like that against us. The back and forth and movement and passing is much more fun to watch. It was a good game when it was 1-1. Fortunately Barkley missed that open chance and we were the ones who got the second goal. With Everton pushing forward even more they lost their organization at the back and we did a excellent job of taking advantage. Full credit to Giroud for being in the right place to score those last 2 goals. He has always been a decent finisher when he can get open around the 6 yard box. The last goal was perhaps the best counter attack of the season for us. Ox was superb yesterday but he has been playing like that for most of the games since he has come back. Ozil was brilliant and his finish to give us an early goal was critical. Its great to see what he and Cazorla can do when given a bit of time and space.

    I have to admit that I had a bit of a feeling of dread about the game yesterday and was expecting this might be another season where we drop out of all the trophy races in a 2 week period but full credit to the team for winning. This team has shown more mental strength then most of our teams for the last 7 -8 years and it was a nice way to bounce back from the Stoke game. I really hope we can somehow win the FA cup. Any sort of trophy would be a huge boost for the club.

  13. The Ox was good, his direct running would do us the world of good on Tuesday, but i suspect he will be benched for Rosicky. And yet, for me, I would sit out Arteta and Rosocky doe the pressing in the middle.

  14. JJ

    I think Giroud would score 40 goals a year if we could get someone free on the back touch line and he could get open in the 6 yard box or get open on a counter attack on his left foot in every game, but that’s not what happens. I do think he would be an excellent if we had a world class striker beside him. Hopefully we can find that sort of player this summer.

  15. well i am amazed by Ozil. he’s not only a genius on the field. he seems like a really decent guy off the field too. The boy oozes class. calm, self-assured yet polite and hard working class.

    Wonder if Remy on the left side instead of Podolski will be a good swap too? As i assume that is the plan for the summer?

  16. I always give teams credit when it’s due, but I do not believe Bayern were good against us last game. The red card is what allowed them to beat us and dominate, as simple as that. Before the red card we were very much in the game and made them look average for the first 20 mins. I genuinely believe we have faced other teams who showed more quality,like Liverpool and we beat them at the Emirates.

    If they play again the same way,, then for me they are nothing special and we can beat them, but if they decide to bring their A game then we will probably lose.

    We have a chance, let’s take it!

    When I see a quality team play their best you just have to hold your hands up and say they were clearly the better team and accept it.

    But Bayern did not convince me, we can do this!!!

  17. JohnW

    I’m with you on that one, I think Flamini and Rosicky as the “holding” midfielders makes a lot of sense to me. Rosicky has the ability to find passes and carry the ball from that position. Wilshere could do worse than model his game on Rosicky, if the young lad learns to stop running down blind alleys and releases the ball quicker when on one of his runs he will become much more influential. Such a shame that Rosicky’s career has been blighted by injury, he rightly deserves the contract extention he has been given.
    Now if we can just get a deal with Sagna agreed.

  18. Great performance. Very much looking forward to seeing Ox-Ramsey-Ozil on the pitch at the same time. Don’t believe that trio has played together yet? It gives me no joy to say it, but I think we’re a better side when Wilshire is not in it. At least on Jack’s recent form anyway.

  19. Had to beat Spurs, Liverpool and Everton to get there so why not City? Its not at home so we have nothing to lose. Am assuming they get through, it looks fairly one-sided at the moment.

  20. Well if we win the FA Cup this year people cannot complain about the opposition faced with 4 of the top 6 in the EPL needed to be defeated. Fingers crossed Wigan do something surprising again in their game today.

  21. Moe @ 1:37

    Munich was not at its best against us. There was not a lot of pressure on us because no one expected much and we came out blazing and they had a tepid start. Add the crowd which was excited and it was a perfect storm that helped us. It would be interesting to see what would have happened if Ozil had hit that PK and that perfect storm would have brought us an early first goal. However, I think their record in the last 2 years speaks for itself. They are the sort of team that over the course of a game will find a way to impose its will and do what’s needed to get a result. That said, anything can happen in a single game so all we can do is play our best and see how it goes.

  22. Bill

    No denying they are an exceptional team, probably best in the world but until i see them dismantle us and destroy us this year, i think we can take them.

    Maybe it will be a different story in Munich, and your totally right about having the right conditions last time, but if we start the same way we can do it. Catch them out and then get a second.

  23. Hull City have enjoyed probably the easiest run in the FA Cup with wins over Middleborough, Southend United, Brighton (plus a replay) and course Sunderland.

    City by contrast had win over Blackburn (plus a replay), Watford and Chelsea. The Wigan game is of course under way now.

    Sheffield United got there with wins of Colchester, Cambridge United, Aston Villa, Fulham (plus a replay) and of course Charlton.

    Coventry aside Arsenal had a tough run but then we were also blessed with home ties in all the rounds.

  24. Nice write up to Yogi.

    “last weekend’s flaccid performance in Stoke at once more baffling and frustrating”. This is the line that stuck out for me and of course it is true. Baffling, wonderful word that. We cannot use the referee excuses, even where it is true because we know that inconsistent refereeing happens every single week. It was flaccid.

  25. Isn’t it great to see Nasri looking so Miserable.

    If the twat had a chin (he hasn’t) it dropped a while ago

  26. forget bayern..
    as champions of everything i dont expect them to make the same mistake twice because the best teams learn from their errors..
    they’ll turn up to this one and kill us off..

    forget the title as well..we were about 1000 points clear of chelsea at one bit and 4 months later were 7 points behind..

    just beat spurs, get one hand on consolidating 4th and were two knockout wins away from an fa cup..

    that’ll do

  27. We are still in it until at least Tuesday. Anything can happen. If we are out of the blocks quickly we might catch them cold. Depends on whether or not they get jumpy at that point. They are still in the box seat, so could just sit deep and catch us on the break as we still need the goals. Do they decide to try to kill us off, or just absorb the pressure? I would have thought they would not make the same mistake as last year, soak it up and catch us light at the back. Its all well and good, putting on a show for the fans, but surely Pep knows its the knock out phase. Why risk the lead by going gung-ho?

  28. For me it’s just about being ruthless, take the chances you get, no slip ups.

    You cannot afford profligacy when you are 2-0 down to the champions.

  29. Wigan demonstrating they ain’t no mugs…. something our side should think about if they are our opponents in the future.

  30. We make Man City look good because our style let’s them attack to their hearts content.

    Need to be more tactical next time.

  31. That goal should not have been allowed, Lescott in stepping over the ball (in an off side position in front of the keeper) definitely influenced the play. The lineman makes a terrible mistake.

  32. Fantastic job by Wigan. This is a real chance. We shouldn’t take Wigan lightly but if we play like we did against Everton, we should make it to the final and face a team we can also bear. Come on Arsenal!

  33. Wigan! Not going to be easy, but easier than City as we just don’t beat the really big teams. Moral of the story: don’t pump it in at them, because they can defend that.
    We can do this. Get to the final, and beat Hull or Sheffield Utd.

  34. You’d have thought that City would have learnt from last year, the over confidence in the players at the start set the stage. An error in judgment defending set the game on its head with a nicely taken penalty. Still waking up from the half time team talk and 2 down. A goal awarded for what should have an offside due to a player obstructing play or interfering with it at least, gave City a chance but wanton bombing of balls in to the 18 yard box showed desperation not conviction.

    Well done Wigan. I hope Arsenal watched that game and understood that complacency will meet with the same result, a loss. Time to work hard and bring home some much needed and long awaited bacon.

  35. Great result for us, no team is easy in the semi-final of the FA Cup especially if they have beaten City to get there. We are obviously favourites to win now, but we found out last year when you turn up just expecting to win. Emerson Boyce was immense and we will have to stretch them across the pitch otherwise they will just soak up the pressure. They seem to thrive on it, so trying one-twos through the middle every time is just not going to work.
    What a fantastic weekend and what an opportunity. Looking forward to two trips to Wembley!

  36. the fa cup is the priority
    two cup finals to win this amazing trophy…
    mentallly solid now, professional, hungry for success and do the biz

    i wonder if we do end up winning it the posidiva conditionalists will celebrate with us seeing as though weve had to endure years upon years of them telling us how shit the fa cup….

  37. bet the ref will get blocking from the City owner now. They did not pay him to let Wigan win. He did his best yes, gave City an offside goal but it just was not enough.. hahaha

  38. anyone catch up article?

    Quick line from The Sun now, who report that David Moyes has identified Thomas Vermaelen as the man to replace Nemanja Vidic.

    The Arsenal club captain has struggled for game time this season and was linked with a loan move to West Ham in January. But now he could be set for a summer switch to United, as long as the champions stump up around £12m to persuade the Gunners to sell.”

    I know the article is pants, poor journalism at best but I do wonder if there is a magic figure by which Arsenal would indeed sell Tv5 to a rival? Certainly not 12M, even for Arsenal that would be like waving a red rag at a bull (the fans obviously the bull).

  39. @Poodle

    I thought the same, City reminded me of Arsenal there in phases where there was simply no movement or product to the build up.

  40. hah the only reason why there are no other top 6 clubs left in the FA CUP is cos they all met us(everton,liv. then City spanked Chelsea and Wigan spanked City and suddenly we are last man standing.

    This time we created our own luck! hope we do not squander it like we did against Birmingham.

  41. You should make predictions in the same style as Nostradamus, Bob. Bit of ambiguity would give you a get-out clause. Something like:

    From overseas the hero will come and manage to have his say
    In 2014, the blue Mancunian will walk Wembley way
    With victory carved on Quarter Final day

  42. Just saw the Man City result. What a break for us. You have to question Man City’s mental strength. 3rd place and an FA cup would be an awesome season.

  43. I can honestly say that there is NO REASON at all that we shouldn’t win the FA Cup.

    We have to beat Wigan and the players should be motivated to win it.

  44. Even if we win, the new line will be:

    Only won one trophy for 9 years.

    But I couldn’t care less.

    Let’s fucking win this!

  45. lol hope we buy Lacazette. such a cool name! he sounds like he’s taken right out of the three musketeers 🙂

    lacazette, just taste that name.. laczette 🙂

  46. people keep questioning our players winning pedigree. saying “non of them know how it is to be in a final and win.” Well thats bullshit. the german contingent have all won medals in both wc and ec? Cazorla has been in both wc and ec finals. So has Monreal. Giroud won the league with Montepellier before he came to us. I believe Flamini won things back in italy too.
    We have plenty of experienced players that know how to be have in high pressure matches.
    You can see it especially on Podolski and Ozil. the way they behave towards the end of important maches. they just stay so cool. they never loose their head, always does the “right thing”

    I do actually hope AW gives the entire FA cup to Fabianski, if we reach the final and also in the semis. He’s done very well and for some reason he seems a bit more calm than Chesney when it matters. Chesney has after all managed to get two read cards in two high pressure matches over the last 2 years. After Fabianski managed to get his head under control he’s been nothing but superb. He has perfect distribution too. A real counter attach weapon he is.

    We are literally stocked with players in every section with experience from the BIGGEST games a player can ever play. I think we are a lot stronger on the “experience” side this time around than what we were in the Birmingham game.

  47. Well, I have to say, YW, that in quaffing all those pints and eating all those pies, I never recognised the poet or seer in you.

    Just goes to show, you never really know anybody.

    Mind you, it isn’t a quote from Old Moore’s Almanac is it?

  48. I have to say, we are in with a shout for this…………
    …..Although I have the memory of 2 or 3 sour tasting cup finals that I would like to forget.

    Too early to call, proceed with caution!

  49. MA

    Total mystery to me as well. The BT Sport team all said the goal should never have stood as Lescott was clearly offside and he lifted his leg for the ball to go in. Not sure he was obscuring Carson’s view as such, but he had to lift his leg for the ball to go in so he was definitely involved in play from an offside position.
    As per usual, the officials do not have to answer for their poor decision making and if City had gone on to win from there it would have been a travesty. I think it really is about time offcials are named and shamed by the FA for these mistakes rather than being quietly sanctioned by being dropped to the Championship for a weekend.

  50. Indeed. I notice that Theo has a blog there. Nice that he has found something to do with all of his spare time.

    Mind you, for a 248 year old man, he certainly has a good turn of pace still…

  51. Great results all around.
    The ox was fantastic. Ozil back to what we expect.
    Thought we battled manfully without a striker until Giroud got on the pitch.
    Starting to wonder whether Wenger keeps playing Sanogo in the hope that he can demonstrate that he still knows how to pick special talent.
    Unfortunately, so far I haven’t seen anything to write home about.
    At least Chamakh could win the ball in the air !
    This is our best chance for some silverware since Birmingham ! Oops.

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