This is going to be a fun blog to write today, because The Arsenal, we won the bloody cup!
I am a happy man. Last season I felt broken after that Europa League final. It really hit me hard and had knock in effects this season, even affecting my ability to become optimistic and hopeful for yesterday’s game. I felt like I couldn’t get too emotionally invested because a second cup final defeat would also be so hard to take. And when Chelski went one up after five minutes having dominated the game in the opening moments, I have to say I feared it would be a long afternoon.
The first 20 felt like that. They had the lions share of possession, they controlled the tempo, pinned us back and we didn’t look like we had an answer. We all knew they’d have more of the ball because they are possession based side and probably a bit better than us to be honest.
But Mikel Arteta is building something at The Arsenal. There is a structure and a resoluteness to his Arsenal team that is developing. We didn’t win the first 20 minutes of the match, but we sure as hell did win the second, and as the halftime whistle went we could be forgiven for being upset that we couldn’t carry on.
We controlled that second 20 minutes and it was during that spell that we equalised. A fantastic ball by Tierney exposed Azpilicueta and Aubameyang was in. Whilst today is probably not the day to be moaning too much, I am going to have a little one now because the guy should have been sent off. I’ve heard people say that Rudiger’s positioning might have made the ref make his decision, but that’s bollocks, because Auba was in and Azpilicueta made no attempt for the ball. Luiz did that against City, almost a carbon copy of the situation, and gets a red plus a penalty. At Stamford Bridge Abraham rounds Leno and Luiz brings him down, Bellerin was arriving just out of shot, but Luiz gets a red. We talk about inconsistency and perhaps we were lucky with Chelsea’s sending off of Kovacic, but I like to think it was football karma for the Azpilicueta decision not to send him off.
The second half saw much of the same in that Chelski dominated possession, looked more in control, but when I think back to it, they didn’t really sting Martinez’s gloves very much. That’s because, weirdly, we kept them at bay defensively. I did worry about Holding at times and we can see that in any foot race he’s getting roasted by 99% of Premier League attackers, but we managed to stay strong, stay resolute, be compact and maintain our structure. Arteta knows how to set up a team and that showed yesterday. Defensively we were able to cede possession to Chelski but in attack we have a killer in front of goal and the winner from Aubameyang felt almost trademark. Another assist from Pepe, a shift on to his left foot by Auba, then a dink over Cabellero that sent me jumping in the air in my lounge.
It was a brilliant goal that I was overjoyed with.
And this morning as I write I have a massive smile on my face. Because once again we are FA Cup winners. I should have been there in the stadium, but the joy of winning the cup is no less diminished, because it’s turned what has been a stinker of a season into a success at the end. Ask any fan how much winning trophies mean and they’ll tell you: a lot. Ask Spurs fans how much they’d love to see their team win a trophy. I bet they’d swap sixth for it. Some might even swap a Champions League spot.
Because these are the memories that stay with you. In ten years time we can talk about this. You don’t talk about finishing in the top four. But we can talk about winning our 14th FA Cup. Because we’ve done it lads and lasses. The pain of last years capitulation may not be completely expunged, but this collective of Arsenal players under this coach, now have their first trophy and we need to build on that.
We can talk more about Arteta over the coming days, but this is big for him too, because he’s got that on his CV; FA Cup winner as a player and a coach. A trophy in his first season. He’s a special guy and we have him as our boss.
He needs backing, which we’ll talk about over the coming days no doubt, but right now let’s just bask in the glory of an FA Cup win. Again.
Catch you all tomorrow.