For the first time since the 2015 Community Shield, Arsenal will be facing Chelsea at Wembley. Goals from Nacho Monreal, and an extra-time winner from Alexis Sanchez set Arsene Wenger’s side on the way to their 20th FA Cup final.
The first half started nervy as Olivier Giroud was the first to have a sight of goal after a slick cross from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but his headed effort only found the gloves of Claudio Bravo. David Sliva was the next recipient as his effort was tipped over the bar by Petr Cech. Both sides continued to threaten each other, and Arsenal were awarded a free-kick when Vincent Kompany fouled Mesut Ozil.
Olivier Giroud scored from the in-swinging free-kick, but saw his goal was ruled out for offside. Early substitute, Raheem Sterling, also threatened but saw his effort go wide of the mark.
The best effort of the half was when Sergio Aguero’s hit the side netting, then came a debatable decision from the linesman when Manchester City thought they had taken the lead, but Leroy Sane’s cross was adjudged to have gone out of play. Did it go out of play? Another debate arose when Aguero’s effort was thought to have not gone over the line.
More controversy sparked when Alexis Sanchez was “allegedly” pushed in the penalty area by Jesus Navas, but the referee saw no malice in that. The way I see it, had that been given as a penalty, it would be a soft one.
The deadlock wasn’t broken until the 62nd minute when Aguero took the lead for his side after a counter attack. It was a great cross from Yaya Toure to Aguero for the goal, but Cech ought to be doing better.
Arsenal threatened to level as Mesut Ozil saw his effort spurned. That would’ve turned the game on its head had he scored from where he was!
Arsenal did eventually equalise through Nacho Monreal (his second FA Cup goal against Manchester opposition – boy, must he be hated in Manchester). An excellent cross from Oxlade-Chamberlain fell nicely for the Spaniard to level the game.
Toure could’ve put his side back in the lead with an absolute screamer, but unfortunately for him, his effort hit the post. Thank goodness for that too! Cech did well to get fingertips to that (when you see it on the replay).
Pep Guardiola’s side could’ve re-taken the lead again as a thumping header from Fernandinho hit the bar. Arsenal. Saved by the woodwork yet again.
Another chance to win the tie in normal time went begging as Danny Welbeck attempted to find the net, but instead, saw his chance go wide.
The sides couldn’t be separated in normal time, so extra-time it was.
The first period of extra-time saw Arsenal threaten first, with Rob Holding getting the best chance so far with a header after an in-swing corner from Ozil.
Then, cometh the moment, cometh the man as Alexis Sanchez put his side in the lead for the first time.
Wenger’s side made sure to not concede any more goals when Gabriel Paulista blocked an effort from Sterling.
With not much time left (of the first half), Arsenal were still pressing with Welbeck’s header going wide. How that never rippled the net, I will never know.
The second half saw Fabian Delph hit the side netting which was a huge let off for Arsenal!
With that result, Arsenal are through to their third FA Cup final in four seasons, and for Manchester City, a trophyless season for the first time since the 2012/13 season.
Thoughts on the game
With the number of chances in the game, 2-1 doesn’t do it justice. I feel there could’ve been A LOT more goals, especially with Welbeck’s missed chances.
There was a talking point in the game where Sane’s cross was thought to have gone out of play, but replays shown that otherwise may have happened. Guardiola’s side will feel a sense of injustice there though. I’ll leave that to you to decide if the ball went out of play or not.
Various sections of fans may feel that this does little to aide Wenger’s cause, but it will be uplifting (somewhat) for the side that sit outside the Champions League spots.
I tweeted a poll during the game about the game potentially going penalties (it was 1-1 at the time). Now, I’m not saying that Arsenal would’ve won penalties had the game gone down that route, but I had a feeling that Guardiola’s is a Jose Mourinho type when it comes to shootouts.
— Ese Agboaye (@A96oaye) April 23, 2017
Both sides are in league action in the week with Arsenal taking on Leicester City at home on Wednesday, with a top four challenge at stake, but is faltering, and Manchester City facing their local rivals in a crucial fixture at home on Thursday.
See you soon!
Featured Image Credit: joshjdss