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A big goal

ARSENAL 1 WIGAN 1 (ARSENAL WIN 4-2 ON PENALTIES)
FROM GOODPLAYA AT WEMBLEY

I THINK I probably celebrated Per Mertersacker’s equaliser harder than any goal for a very long time. It was full on hug thy neighbour time.

Why? Because at 1-0 down to Wigan with eight minutes to go, it was hard to escape the sense that if it stayed that way one was watching a game of fairly significant bearing in the story of the club. And I realised that for all the very real qualms I have the the direction of the club and, yes, the manager, losing 1-0 to Wigan after such a poor performance would have been unduly cruel.

In our defence, we did actually deserve to the game. A Martian parachuted in for one match only would have undoubtedly thought us the better team. It should also be pointed out (in particular to Roy Keane) that the major reason for the semi-final opposition not being of Premier League top six material is because we’d already knocked over half of them out. We turned in by far our worst performance of the competition against some of our weakest opposition.

As for the game, it is hard to think of a single outfield Arsenal player who actually could be said to have had a good game. I don’t know if you remember one backheel by Santi Cazorla down by the byline: it was remarkable for being just about the only moment that seemed to depart from the very ordinary. It is hard to put a precise finger on the reason for our travails: on paper we looked a reasonably balanced side.

I do happen to think the presence of Yaya Sanogo is a major handicap. I say it with no malice towards the player. He is game enough. But he shouldn’t really be anywhere near the Arsenal first team, let alone starting on his own up front. It is a farcical situation and I’m afraid that when I glance over at how Liverpool are doing I feel a tremendous bitterness. With a proper strike-force, this league was there for the taking for us.

Giroud for Podolski was certainly an interesting sub – many booed. I take the argument that Podolski can nick you a goal. But in a team of woeful performances, he’d stood out. A part of me commended Wenger for going to 4-4-2. Another part of me wondered why only now he had discovered the flexibility to go with two up front.

Ultimately, we’re in the final and it doesn’t happen all that often so, frankly, rejoice.

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