Giroud and Ozil show their class as Arsenal head to Wembley

Arsenal 4-1 Everton

And so to our first FA Cup semi-final in five years. Ah yes, Wembley. The stroll up Wembley Way, my Kenny Sansom flat cap, a mixtape by FeverPitch, Alan Sunderland’s megaperm (I swear I do not believe that), Charlie George lying prostrate, Charlie Nicholas’s mullet, Andy Linighan’s bloody-headed header, Overmars bursting through.

(I prefer those memories to Trevor Brooking, Gazza, Winterburn missing a penalty against Luton, overpriced inedible food and a spectacular defensive howler that led to anger and mental scarring in 2011, if that’s alright with you).

I know, I know, it’s not the final – I’d prefer the semi-final to be at a neutral club ground like it always was – but the powers that be need to pay back the mortgage so Wembley it is. Wemberleeeeee.

Let’s be dramatic about it: beating Everton was huge. After the Stoke no-show, it was massive. We’re off the pace in the league, we’ve got to climb Mount Bayern without crampons, so yesterday was so important in so many ways. We’re one game from our first cup final since 2005, for a start. That’s good enough for me, but an excellent win is the kind of confidence boost we needed too. Lose that and the rest of the season would have stared us in the face, gurning. So make no bones about it – that was a big result.

I can say this now we’ve won, but it was an excellent cup tie. My brother said as the game started that he hoped Sanogo would score, as he needed a goal to give him belief. But when the goal did come – nice and early, keep it up Arsenal – it went to another player who needed one arguably even more. Questioned by many, a little off-colour, booed on international week, Ozil popped up and with one deft left foot kicked off an excellent performance that culminated in a delicious assist for Giroud’s second. An excellent performance in the spring sunshine (it’s amazing what a few gamma rays can do).

Sanogo had a shot, The Ox another, and we should really have capitalised on our lead, but the first half ended with Everton playing well and they got a tap in that set up a tense second half. As I say, a good game.

The game swerved our way with the penalty. The Ox again, this time running forcefully on the edge of the box right in front of where we sit (he must know this, he perhaps notices us, I like to think he does), was felled by the outstretched leg of Barry Gareth. Penno every day.

Here come the Arteta – he’s the lyrical gangster – and boom, cool as you like he scores. Except he doesn’t because of some perceived infringement by Giroud. What’s that all about? Annoying, because I’d already cheered heartily, pumped my fist at several innocent people and raised my son skywards. Up he comes again though, same coolness, different direction, goal.

Then the denoument, two goals from the excellent Giroud thanks to more good work from Ozil and the energy of Rosicky. It is perhaps an unfair comparison, but seeing Giroud next to Sanogo makes you appreciate the stuff he does that Sanogo cannot yet do. He finds space, holds and distributes the ball, and is deceptively quick-footed. For me, a fit and firing Giroud is key to any kind of momentum for us between now and May. When he’s good, he’s very good (18 goals this season is not too bad at all). Sanogo is willing but not ready. As for Bendtner – I have no idea where he’s got to.

So a great win and a needed shot in the arm. Now for Munich…

As an aside, I took my 5-year-old to his first game yesterday and not surprisingly, he loved it (despite a few wriggles of boredom in the first half). He may be too young to remember it in years to come but I now have the photograhic evidence to prove it… One thing that did make me laugh though is something he whispered in my ear during the ding-dong second half. “Daddy, is it true dodos are extinct?” Kids are so wonderfully random and hard to fathom.

A bit like Arsenal then. But it all came together yesterday and you could see what it meant to fans and players alike.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. PDDD

    Fantastic stuff. Ozil & the Ox were fantastic. And a joy to see Arteta finally playing further forward & being able to be an asset rather than a liability.
    This particular Arsenal team aren’t that hard to fathom really. Just look at our last 6 fixtures (excluding Sunderland at home as that was a piece of cake as they’re a poor team who were clearly focussed on Wembey anyway) : rubbish v Liverpool (a), rubbish v Man Utd, very good v Liverpool (h), very good v Bayern, rubbish v Stoke, very good v Everton……
    which 3 games did Flamini play in ? I know I keep banging on about it but we simply don’t function properly as a team without him.
    Wonderful to see Pat Rice at half-time. Laughed out loud at this comment about going to ‘the dark side’ next week….

  2. Theclashblog

    A great write up and indeed a massive result – where this season takes us is still unknown but it looks and feels like a far more sun-kissed path to travel now. Arguably the most enjoyable game of the season, wish I wasn’t 5,500 miles away. I was five for my first Highbury match, don’t remember a thing. Memories really kick in for the first match of (’76?) – Supermac and a loss to Bristol City in blistering hot weather when I eight.

    Funny..took our 10 year old (now a mad Gooner) to see our local professional team (San Diego) tonight, keen young players…think semi professional, well down the league pyramid. Young Jack kept asking me ‘Do you think San Diego might sign Bendtner?’ In between that, him asking when we’ll go to London and a 3-0 win it was a good night. He liked an opposing winger who ‘had Ozil’s haircut’

  3. fourstar

    You can tell him in all honesty that we haven’t seen a dodo since Spurs last won the league (in black & white, etc)

  4. Jeff

    Brilliant comment. Is San Diego an MLS side (I can check it out easily enough).

    I was going to complain about the Ox not making the headline, but he got fair treatment in the body of the post post, so I’m ok.

    Jim, the five-year-old’s big brother was there too? Or they alternate?

  5. East Lower

    Haha, yes. Good shout. I wondered why he asked me that all weekend then I realised it might have been triggered by having his photo taken with Gunnersaurus. He must have thought I’d been fibbing all this time about dinosaurs.

  6. East Lower

    You’ve got him hooked! Good skills from so far away…

    Not sure San Diego could afford the greatest striker in the world, though.

  7. East Lower

    Ox was excellent, yes. Could be pivotal between now and May. Perhaps I did him a disservice…

    His big brother wasn’t there. There are about 5 of us who sit together and sometimes a seat comes up, but rarely two. I’d been promising him for ages so it was his turn…

  8. East Lower

    Flamini has such energy, I agree. A bit too cavalier in the tackle… interesingly, Everton would probably not have got the equaliser had he not been booked. He was going to charge in to make a tackle but, on a yellow card, thought better of it. Not that it matters now!

  9. PDDD

    Yeah, equaliser was definitely his fault. He’s far from perfect but it’s all about the balance of the team – we have no-one else to do what he does. We score more goals, let in less goals & win more games when he plays. He’s first name on the teamsheet for me. (though if we buy a quality dm during the summer – e.g a Pogba – I’d be happy to see him on the bench a lot next season !!)
    We have got to win the Cup now, simply got to.

  10. PDDD

    Surely no-one can argue about Flamini’s importance after watching that ? We were – yet again – utterly awful without him. Arteta is just continually embarrassed in games like that.
    But you know what ? We beat the Totts – for the third time this season !!!!
    come on you Reds !!!!!!!!

Comments are closed.