Good evening Positive people.
What an afternoon!! It is games like this that remind me why I find it so easy to love football. An excellent contest between two attacking teams, decided by the narrowest of margins. We matched and bettered City in every department, including being “professional” in our conduct, and misconduct, on the pitch. I am delighted that we have earned a place in the FA Cup Final. Fair to say that in the first 45, our sky blue opponents held the initiative. After half time however the force was with us. They were rattled, they cracked. Nevertheless I genuinely extend my sympathy to City and their entourage who missed out after 120 minutes of impressive struggle.
I hardly need to mention to anyone reading this piece that the victory was not easy. Good grief no, and the tension was notching up since our win at the Riverside.
I asked (pleaded is more accurate) earlier today that Arsenal did no more than play to their “ full potential” in the semi-final. That our players would strain every sinew and shed their last drop of sweat at Wembley between 3 and 5-ish would have been enough for me. The result could take care of itself, win or lose, for today the draw was never the option. I enter these transactional arrangements with the cosmos when I am in footballing doubt, in the same way I often become religious at 3 a.m.
And in the past six days there has been ‘doubt’ in my Arsenal soul, there is no use my denying it.
I admit I have made this contract with FOOTBALLING FATE before, and in recent seasons I have felt that the goddess has treated me cruelly, dealing me neither satisfaction in the team’s unstinting effort, nor the advantage of an occasional lucky result. It is a large pitch, and the biggest stage. And Wembley is no place to be humiliated, for Arsenal Football Club, its players or managers or fans. If I was feeling hesitant in the run-up to the match I found no solace in the dismissal of Arsenal’s chances to beat City by pundit after pundit after pundit. I know the vast majority of the Mersons, the Ferdinands and the Jenases are idiots, but could it be that every single one of them was wrong?
Well the pundits were, to a man, wrong. My doubt was wholly misplaced.
On this day I saw our players put in a performance over 120 minutes that is among the finest I have seen over 50 years. I saw a highly organised defensive performance in which Holding and Kosc never put a foot wrong. As for Gabriel we saw not just what a ruthless practitioner of ball winning he is, but he is a reader of the game. Never out of position, never needed to dive in. Rarely has such subtlety been wrapped around cold-blooded intervention. Poor Silva.
As for our Man of the Match, the Ox, the 23 year old performed as the most assured man on the pitch. He was tasked with helping Gabby subdue City’s most pointed weapon Sane and he did a solid job. Sane is no mug so to keep him off the score sheet and deny him any clear shooting opportunities all afternoon is as good as it gets. Going forward however Alex really did his best work in my opinion. He runs fast, straight and with the ball at his feet. Very few players do that any more. His transformation since that dreadful night in Munich in mid-February is remarkable.
And who told Nacho he could score goals like that with his right foot – or his left foot even? Our Chilean grabbed the decider. Nothing spectacular about the finish by Sanchez’s standards. The right man, on the right spot, at exactly the right moment.
Of our other lads, Aaron, Granit, Larry, Mesut, Danny, and Cech, I am sure you will have better words to cover their contributions. As I say they all played to their full potential today.
I am about to slope off for some refreshment.
I deserve it.
Enjoy the evening.