Category Archives: FA Cup

2013/14 FA Cup: Arsenal’s Best Moments in the Tournament

I’m still basking in the euphoria of winning a trophy after eight years, 11 months and 27 days… trust me, that’s a long time. If you thought that the taunts, jibes, trolling and jokes were bad enough, imagine being in Arsene Wenger’s shoes when a fellow professional labelled him as a “specialist in failure” in the wake of the club’s barren spell.

Still in the spirit of celebratory mood, Gooner Daily has decided to look back on the tournament and share it’s five favored and iconic moments that made the competition worth the wait. I’m certain that we may not agree on all the moments, and you’re free to share yours in the comments section.

Rosicky’s Delicate Chip

It’s the FA Cup third round against the old enemy, Tottenham Hotspurs. Despite spending more money that the amount of times Mikel Arteta uses his hair gel, all it took was an Olivier Giroud finish to settle the contest in September. The Gunners had gotten the lead when Serge Gnabry teed up Santi Cazorla but Tottenham tried to get themselves back in the game.

That’s when poor ol’ Danny Rose chose to go a-slipping…

Tomas Rosicky, a player not renowned for his pace, darted with the ball and bore on Hugo Lloris’ goal. An obviously quicker Kyle Walker chased the Czech maestro with the hope of winning the ball…Hugo Lloris also raced from his goal line to anticipate the ball…

What happened next?

On target: Tomas Rosicky puts the ball past Lloris as Arsenal go 2-0 up on Spurs in the FA Cup third round

Lloris, do you want some ketchup for this CHIP?

A brilliant chip that clinched the match for the Gunners.

A Goal for an “Out-of-Form” Ozil

“What a waste of £42.5m”, “He hasn’t delivered yet”, “He isn’t all that”

These were the words on the street concerning Mesut Ozil, a super-talented footballer that graced the Emirates with his mesmeric skills, silky passing, orbicular eye balls and garnering reputation as the most creative force in Europe over the last five seasons.

However, he started his Arsenal career like a house on fire as it took him just 11 minutes to register his first assist in the club. He kept on piling the assists and even scored a couple as well. Then fatigue set its toll on the German superstar and adjusting to life in England wasn’t exactly a bed of roses.

That’s why when he received that through ball from Santi Cazorla, he knew that with Seamus Coleman and John Stones closing down, he had to take a shot and he had only one chance. And he took it.

Arsenal v Everton: Mesut Ozil slides the ball past Seamus Coleman and John Stones to open the scoring

His last goal was against Everton in December. First goal in three months!

Arteta’s Composure From the Spot

Some poor defending combined with a swift Everton counter attack saw Romelu Lukaku get the equalizer for the Toffees and it seemed as if it was going to be a repeat of the previous encounter in December when Roberto Martinez’ side went back to Merseyside with the spoils of battle.

But when Gareth Barry’s lack of pace was well exploited by the Ox, Mikel Arteta, an ex-Evertonian was given the daunting task of scoring the penalty that would give Arsenal the lead. In his head, he probably saw Mark Schwarzer in goal with the scores tied at 3-3 and an expectant Emirates crowd waiting to go into raptures. He played the penalty well but Schwarzer guessed right and the prospect of having three points were shattered within seconds.

There was no Schwarzer this time, just plain ol’ Joel Robles, Everton’s second choice goalie, standing on the goal line. Arteta stepped up and smashed it in but the ref told him to play it again. TF!

Arteta scores a penalty for Arsenal

E dey inchide!

Well, he played it again and the rest they say was history.

Fabianski’s Penalty Saves

Ah! It’s the semifinal and the Gunners were set to play against the almighty Manchester City Wigan that showed that lightning can actually strike the same place twice when they won the Citizens in their turf. This was a Championship outfit but the Gunners knew that they weren’t going to take anything for granted.

All Hell broke loose when Per Mertesacker blatantly fouled Callum McManaman and another upset was on the cards. The trolls were ready to launch new attacks on the Gunners and create more “trophyless” jokes but the BFG, that was probably working as a double agent, decided to change from villain to hero as he nodded in the equalizer. 30 minutes of extra time couldn’t settle the contest so we had to go through the lottery of a penalty shootout.

The Arsenal spot kick takers did their jobs superbly but they had to rely on Lukasz Fabianski to do his. This was their reaction.

OMG! Fabianski, we love you!!! We are going to Wembley baby!

Lifting the Trophy

Fabianski’s heroics got the Gunners to the final and as Wenger had promised, the Pole remained in goal despite the fact that his footballing future is away from North London. The match against Hull was an epic contest with the Gunners digging really deep to claw their way from the jaws of defeat to the sweet taste of victory thanks to Aaron Ramsey’s finish in the 109th minute.

The reactions from the players and fans alike have been epic. Jack Wilshere said the win was for the fans, Ivan Gazidis stated that it’s a ‘huge step’ for the club, Timas Rosicky said that it was exhausting to watch, Lukas Podolski declared that it was special and the boss himself, Arsene Wenger, said that it was very emotional.

But this feeling was indescribable,

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Sayonara.

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Arsenal 3 Hull 2: Sweet Dreams are Made of This!!!

 FA Cup celebrations

Player RatingsMatch HighlightsWenger’s Press Conference

Arsenal: Cazorla 17′, Koscielny 71′, Ramsey 109′

Hull: Chester 3′, Davies 9′

The stage was set for the most important game in the careers of everyone concerned with Arsenal football club. With the exception of Mathieu Flamini, no one, I repeat, no one in the team had ever relished the experience of winning a trophy with the club. Arsene Wenger was blessed with a fully fit squad to choose from and he opted for his strongest squad, with the obvious exception of Theo Walcott that was still nursing his knee injury.

After the pre-match pleasantries, it was time to do the talking on the pitch and Hull screamed really loud with basically their first attack of the game. Ahmed El Mohammady was allowed to have a go at Kieran Gibbs and a blocked cross yielded a corner kick. A training routine was executed superbly as the floated ball was drilled back into the danger area by Tom Huddlestone. Chester was on hand to lash at the ball and it beat Lukasz Fabianski on his far post.

A bad start for Arsenal even became worse when a goalmouth scramble resulted in a headed effort which was parried by Fabianski but the ball went straight to the path of Curtis Davies that wasted no time in slamming the ball home. Nine minutes gone, Hull two goals to the good. A familiar feeling for the Gunners in their away exploits at Anfield and Stamford Bridge.

If we thought going two goals down that early was embarrassing enough, Hull almost made it three when a goal-bound looping header was nodded over the bar by Gibbs. Had Mikel Arteta stayed on the far post early on, Chester ball wouldn’t have crept in. The Gunners looked bereft of confidence and needed inspiration from somewhere. Up stepped Santi Cazorla to rifle in a free kick that sent the Arsenal faithful into raptures.

Catch am na? Your Father!!!!!

That goal set the wind to Arsenal’s sails and from there onwards, it was only a question of when the equalizer was going to come. Olivier Giroud dropped deep to swing a lovely pass for Lukas Podolski who in turn looked up and delivered a carefully-threaded cutback to Mesut Ozil’s path only to see his German teammate fire an air shot Yaya Sanogo would have been proud of.

At some point, it turned into target practice as Giroud fired Ramsey’s pass on a defender’s body before Podolski released a thunderbolt that was blocked by a Hull defender as well. Giroud then showed off his amazing work rate in winning the ball off a Hull defender but his teammates weren’t in the same wavelength with him as his cutback sailed across the six yard box with no Gunner in sight to apply the killer finishing touch.

The second half had a somewhat dull affair at the start and this was epitomized by Huddlestone’s hooliganism in the middle of the park. After a couple of cynical challenges, he finally found himself in the ref’s book, a place he deserved to be all game long. Wenger withdrew the ineffectual Podolski for Wilshere Rosicky Sanogo, yes Sanogo. The French forward connected well to pick up a lovely pass from Giroud but his shot was lashed wide.

Arsenal’s breakthrough finally arrived from yet another set piece but this time it was Laurent Koscielny that reacted quickly to put the ball beyond an onrushing McGregor who clattered the French defender in the aftermath of the goal.

Koscielny looked as if he wasn’t going to continue the game but he probably showed that he shares the same DNA with Chuck Norris and he was up and running moments later like nothing had happened to him. Okay, I’m kidding.

Late on, Arsenal fans thought that the golden moment had arrived when Sanogo’s hard work saw him lay a cushioned pass to Gibbs but a rush of blood to the head made the full back fire what looked more like a goal kick rather than a shot at goal.

Extra time beckoned and the Arsenal onslaught continued. Giroud had a volley that was saved, Sanogo kept huffing and puffing and narrowly fired a shot wide. In extra time, Ramsey chipped a lovely ball that was met by Giroud’s head but the woodwork came to Hull’s rescue. It was really looking like one of those days.

The injection of Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere to lay more siege to an already tired Hull defense was a stroke of genius by Wenger. Both players showed off their reserves of energy and it aided their team’s cause.

Then the moment of glory arrived…

A lovely ball was given to Giroud in the box and it was glaring that he wasn’t going to use his weaker right foot to fire a shot with defenders lurking. Instead, Giroud probably used his side mirror to see Ramsey on the prowl and he executed an inch-perfect backheeled pass that was stabbed home by Ramsey. One word… Delirium. And yeah, Bobby Agulanna cried!

From two goals down, Arsene Wenger’s men dug deep and showed off yjeor character, resilience and mental strength to score three goals. As in, three goals in a FA Cup final. The biggest stages of them all. At that point in time, the folks at Since Arsenal Won a Trophy were getting ready to reset their clock that was at eight years, 11 months, 27 days, … You get my drift.

Just when we thought that the game was done and dusted, Per Mertesacker slipped at a crucial moment and his error allowed Sone Aluko a chance to bear down on goal. Just like the FA Cup semifinal match against Chelsea in 2009, Fabianski jetted off his line and was left for dead by the Nigerian. With a gaping and unguarded goal to aim at, the winger played the ball towards the net but Gibbs reacted swiftly to clear it off the line.

At the sound of the ref’s whistle it was party time in Wembley and Bheerhugs Cafe, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria and like Wojciech Szczesny, I, @dkingpin, @wheelsindk, @K_Sturna, @radio_activist and @faithhitler decided to have our very own Gooner selfie.

Oh to be a Gooner

Then of course, the wild celebrations began and there was time for Wenger to give Bacary Sagna his blessing…

When you get to Man City, score some own goals when you play against us!

Before Podolski decided to pour some Champagne on him. Wenger’s press conference was a masterpiece as usual and I hope he and his team builds on this.

I’ve always said that you can’t get addicted to smoking till you’ve had your first cigarettes. These Gooners have finally smoked some FA Cup cigarettes. I hope they decide to go on a pot fest in the years to come.

Sayonara.

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Hull Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

A shot of the FA Cup on May 5, 2012

After the frantic wait that seemed to last forever, the Gunners finally have a chance of ending their long-standing trophy drought with a crucial clash against Hull City, a team they dispatched with consummate ease both home and away this season. When both clubs met at the Emirates, goals from Nicklas Bendtner and Mesut Ozil sealed the tie and when the Gunners visited the KC Stadium, Aaron Ramsey took center stage to score a goal and create two assists for Lukas Podolski.

Ramsey celebrating the match opener against Hull

Since his return from injury, Ramsey has continued his fine form and he would justly be proud about his 15-goal haul this season, which is definitely a career best for the Welsh lad. His composure in front of goal this season has been exemplary and his teammates would be hoping that he brings his scoring boots to Wembley.

Arsene Wenger has also shared his thoughts on the game and has stressed that the performance of his players is more important than the final outcome of the game,

“No matter what the result will be, this club – and this is always most important – can deal with the consequences of any game.

“What is important is that we come out of the game and have the feeling that we gave absolutely our best, our total energy to play at our best and then you always accept the consequences.

“No matter how much we talk about it, you can win and lose but you want to come out of the game feeling you have done the maximum to win and that is what we want to achieve.”


The club’s official site deemed it fit to release a video showing the team’s exploits from the FA Cup third round all the way to the final. German playmaker, Mesut Ozil, has spoken about his excitement in making his Wembley debut while Santi Cazorla claims that he prefers the FA Cup to the Spanish Copa del Rey.

To injuries, it’s worth noting that Hull would be without James Chester as well as the striking duo of Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long that have been cup-tied (can I hear a Hallelujah somewhere!). Allan McGregor, Paul McShane and Sone Aluko, have recovered just in time to be involved. At Arsenal, Thomas Vermaelen and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would face late fitness tests, but I don’t see them getting involved today.

Since Arsenal’s victory over Manchester United in the 2005 FA Cup final, there have been a plethora of near misses, what ifs and the whole nine yards. There was the Champions League final heartbreak against Barcelona in 2006, the Carling Cup final loss to Chelsea in 2007, the unfortunate Premier League campaign in the 2007/08 season, getting to the Champions League semifinals in 2009, and of course, the most painful of them all, losing the 2011 Carling Cup final to a relegation-bound Birmingham City.

The list of near misses goes on, but could soon be at an end if Arsenal handles the weight of expectation this time round. An opportunity is just in front of the lads today and we can only hope they grab it with both arms. As Ramsey recently stated in an interview, these players need to start winning trophies which would signal the start of an era for the club.

You can’t get addicted to smoking if you haven’t had your first cigarette.

While everyone seems to be entirely focused on Arsenal and their famous trophy drought, people also tend to forget that the club’s only trophy came in 1966 when it won England’s third-tier title and its best run in a cup competition came back in 1930 when the team reached the FA Cup semifinals. Not like we actually care? -___-

Hull midfielder, David Meyler, shared his thoughts on the daunting task in front of his team,

“Nobody expects us to win it and obviously they haven’t won a trophy in nine years and they’ve got their posters up in London about their parade next week and credit to them. “I’d rather be the underdog. People are delighted when the underdog wins – I don’t think many people want Arsenal to win.”

Hull celebrating their victory over Sheffield

Irrespective of today’s result, Hull is assured of a place in next season’s Europa League, which is a very demanding competition, bearing in mind that the team would face fatigue issues arising from playing on Thursday which is swiftly followed by a match during the weekend. Swansea didn’t have a deep enough squad to face the rigors of the competition and it took its toll on the player’s performances, which ultimately led to the sacking of Michael Laudrup.

To team news, I envisage that playing Lukasz Fabianski ahead of Wojciech Szczensy hinted that the manager wanted to play the younger Pole today but then again, you can never know goes on his head. In defense, I expect to see the regular back fantastic four with Ramsey and Arteta protecting the back line. In midfield, Lukas Podolski would hope to continue his fine form which would mean that Santi Cazorla would start from the right wing with Giroud spearheading the attack.

It will be hard for them without Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long (who are both cup tied) because they’re the ones that give them a bit extra. Matty Fryatt is a good goalscorer – probably a better goalscorer than the other two – but he hasn’t got the pace and he isn’t going to run away from anybody. They will have to give him good service.

Arsenal would have to approach this game with the mindset that as last year’s final – when Wigan shocked Manchester City – proved, nothing can be taken for granted in this competition.

Here’s to a trophy

Sayonara.

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Thoughts on the Arsenal’s FA Cup Adventure

image

The great thing about supporting a football team is that despite having so many bad times, there’s always a little speck of light at the end of a very dark tunnel, as fans remain optimistic that the team they support would turn up with a better performance in the next game.

Despite the shocking display at Goodison Park last week Sunday, there has been a lot of tension at the club as many believe that it’s high time the club invests in a new manager. Then there was the Santi Cazorla interview where he spoke about the team’s lack of winning mentality as well as the club’s failures to address it’s depth issues last summer. There are five Premier League games to fight for as well as two potential FA Cup clashes, so the players have to rally themselves and fight for their lives in the club’s bid to end it’s long-standing trophy drought.

As for the issue of the depth of the squad, that remains in the hands of Arsene Wenger or maybe. that new young hotshot that would come in his place. With the club’s financial stability the envy of the football world, Arsenal can compete with their rivals to challenge for major honors but they have to sort a couple of things this summer. With the World Cup serving as a distraction, let’s hope that the club will invest early enough, instead of waiting till September 1, 2014 to make a couple of late signings.

Tomorrow, Arsenal has a date with destiny as the fabled ‘giant-killers’, Wigan Athletic, come to Wembley for a place in the final against either Sheffield United or Hull City. Arsenal’s run to the semis has seen them play three Premier League teams as well as a Championship side but it’s also worth noting that all these games have been played at home.

Tottenham were the first to visit the Emirates in January under the new management of Tim Sherwood and it took two goals from Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky to send the Gunners to the fourth round. A comfortable home clash against Coventry City followed and Lukas Podolski shined the brightest as the Gunners ran riot past their opponents.

Following the 5-1 drubbing in the hands of Liverpool at Anfield, the second game in the space of a week was a cautious affair but the Gunners had enough in the tank to ease past the title challengers and the quarterfinal clash against Everton turned out to be a routine affair as the Gunners gazumped Everton.

It’s also worth noting that the Gunners’ second-choice goalie, Lukasz Fabianski, has been the custodian between the sticks in all these encounters and the manager has confirmed that he’d play tomorrow, despite the fact that Fabianski has set his sights elsewhere after refusing to sign a new deal,

Let’s play on Saturday. You play football on your merit and your performance and he [Fabianski] has turned up with top-level performances until now in every single game. You could say that even after the game, he has done extremely well. He has been man of the match in the three games.

“When you are a professional you work until the last day of your contract. That’s for me being professional. All the rest has nothing to do with professionalism.”

At least we are sure of one player that would grace the starting line up in Wembley tomorrow.

It has been a great run thus far and with Manchester City taking out Chelsea before their shock loss to Wigan in the quarterfinals. If the Gunners were facing the Citizens with their current form, the fans would have been very pessimistic but fate has allowed the Gunners to have a real chance of winning silverware after nine long years.

A match preview of the Wigan game would be published tomorrow morning.

Sayonara.

The FA Cup is now Arsenal’s to Lose

After the Gunners ran riot past Everton to be the first team to book a semifinal place, the onus was on the remaining six teams to show that they were worthy of a  semifinal place.

It began with a lower division affair as Sheffield United scored the goals against Charlton Athletic that was enough to send them to a fairytale semifinal place. If their chairman and manager were told at the start of the season that they’d be in the FA Cup semifinal, i’m sure that they might have taken such news with a pinch of salt. As we’ve reached the business end of the competition, the Blades are a game away from what would be a Utopian final.

Elsewhere, two Premier League sides in the forms of Hull City and recent Capital One Cup finalists, Sunderland. The Black Cats led Manchester City after just 10 minutes and if the referee somehow managed to blow the final whistle at that point in time, Sunderland would have booked a Europa League place. However, it was not to be as goals from Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas won the trophy for the Citizens.

Yesterday, Sunderland put up a shocking performance as Hull ran them ragged to book a semifinal clash against Sheffield United.

The final quarterfinal match was a repeat of last season’s final as Manchester City were overwhelming favorites to crush Wigan Athletic. The Latics scored a late goal in Wembley to win the competition at the oilers expense and it cost Roberto Mancini his job. With Manchester City already having the Capital One Cup in the bag, many had tipped them to win a domestic Cup double.

As the game hit center stage, Arsenal fans were concerned to know that they were going to play the winners of this clash and given their recent 6-3 spanking in the hands of Manchester City, it wasn’t a prospect many of them were looking forward to.

To everyone’s amazement and the sheer delight of Arsenal fans worldwide, Jordi Gomez converted the spot kick that handed Wigan the lead. A good day got even better when James Perch scored Wigan’s second and my elation knew no bounds. Manchester City got back into the game with a goal from Nasri and it was nail-biting stuff towards the end of the game but Wigan held on!

So there you have it – Hull vs. Sheffield and Arsenal vs. Wigan. Only four teams left in football’s oldest cup competition and Arsenal, yes, Arsenal stands a great chance of ending the trophy drought with two more victories. Wigan has shown their mettle as well as garnering a reputation as ‘giant killers’ but Arsene Wenger of all people would know what winning the FA Cup would do to his team.

In rather simpler terms, the FA Cup is now Arsenal’s to loose.

Sayonara

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