Category Archives: FA Cup

The FA Cup Defending Champions Retain their Trophy

Arsenal 4 (Walcott 40′, Alexis 50′, Mertesacker 52′, Giroud 90′) – Aston Villa 0

Match ReportMatch HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

Bheerhugz Cafe, Ikeja. The venue I chose to watch last season’s FA Cup final, this season’s Community Shield and yesterday’s FA Cup final. It’s turning out to be my new traditional venue for watching Arsenal cup finals. Why wouldn’t it be? When I was having a good time with the Mrs. and many of my close Arsenal buddies, drinking Orijin and having a blast.

With the game starting as late as 5.30pm, I arrived around 4.00pm with my woman and started drinking with my buddies and having me some good ol’ fun. We brought out our inner Arsene Wenger’s and started guessing the starting XI. So much was made about who was going to be in goal and who was going to lead the line and we got our answer by 5.30pm – Wojciech Szczesny and Theo Walcott.

Wembley looked so colorful and the fans were hopeful to get their money’s worth but after a fluffy of good saves that frustrated Arsenal, the Gunners finally broke the deadlock when Walcott used his left to blast a shot past Shay Given in goal. The relief in Bheerhugz Cafe was glaring for all to see with the fans jumping up and down like Kangaroos. As expected, some drinks were spilled on the ground but it’s one of those things that happen in such engagements.

At the start of the first half, Alexis Sanchez proved to us why he’s undoubtedly Arsenal’s Player of the season. An unstoppable volley from quite some distance that left Shay Given with no chance in Hell to make a save. While my friends were basking in the euphoria of seeing such a great goal, I had to do with the replay because I was busy taking selfies with my girlfriend and some other girls that I invited.

Then I concentrated on the game and watched Per Mertesacker use his shoulder to guide the ball into Given’s far post. If any random bloke was on that line, he would have cleared it with consummate ease but in all honesty, I didn’t care because I was seeing one of the rare things in life – Per Mertesacker scoring for Arsenal. That was his seventh goal in 167 appearances for the club. The cake had a very good icing when Olivier Giroud came off the bench to score an exact replica of the goal he scored Newcastle at the Emirates. An audacious side-footed flick that beat Given in his near post. There were some complains about offside but for a player that hadn’t scored in his last eight games, that was a welcome goal.

The ref blew his whistle and it was party time at Bheerhugz Cafe. Bodies were moving in different directions, more bottles of beer were consumed and of course, more pictures were taken.

Wenger was absolutely ecstatic in his press conference and he was proud of winning his sixth FA Cup which is actually half the amount of FA Cup titles the Gunners have won. Even the players gave their takes on what has been a great season with Hector Bellerin labeling it as an absolute dream and Francis Coquelin calling it a great feeling.

I’m elated that the feel-good feeling is back at North London with the Gunners retaining the FA Cup yet again. In 2002, Arsenal won the FA Cup, retained it in 2003 and when unbeaten to win the Premier League in 2004. Now they have won it in 2014, retained it in 2015, but I’m sure the fans wouldn’t mind them some deja vu. ;)

Sayonara.

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The FA Cup final: All You Need to Know

The day we have waited for has finally arrived.

Arsenal takes on Aston Villa for the right to win the last domestic silverware of the season. A win for Arsenal will also ensure that they become the record holders of the competitions with 12 wins as they’re currently locked on 11 with their eternal rivals, Manchester United.

The folks at London Designer Outlet have decided to create a lovely infographic that tells all you need to know about this historic fixture. This infographic has all you need to know about the FA Cup final and has lots of fun facts, figures and records on the worlds biggest and best domestic cup competition.

If you have a minute or so to take a look you can find the graphic here.

FA Cup Final: All You Need To Know

The tie promises to be an interesting encounter and we can only hope that Arsenal turns up a notch to deliver the trophy home.

The fans are very expectant and we can only hope the club delivers the trophy home.

Sayonara.

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All Roads Lead to Wembley and it’s against Aston Villa

I must say that I felt it wasn’t ‘right’ fixing Arsenal’s semifinal tie against Reading with the Chelsea vs. Manchester United clash from a neutral perspective. But in all honesty, I didn’t really care about the game at Stamford Bridge because Wembley was the place to be and as expected, the Gunners almost gave me a heart attack but Alexis Sanchez’s goals were enough to send Arsene Wenger’s men to the final. Credit to Reading for putting up a good fight as well as giving Arsenal fans some fright but it the end, it was the Gunners that would fill up Wembley on the 30th of May.

The million pound question was – who was going to join the Gunners? Aston Villa or Liverpool? The Villans have endured a tumultuous campaign this season which ultimately led to the sacking of Paul Lambert. There were two spells in the league were Aston Villa lost five games in a row and seven game in a row as well, much to the dismay of their loyal fans from Birmingham. Liverpool is another club that has had a hot and cold campaign and the fans must have felt heartbroken losing out in the semifinals of the League Cup to Chelsea. Their European campaign was rather pathetic in the Champions League and they didn’t fare any better in the Europa League either.

The game itself was a feisty encounter with Liverpool getting the early goal through Phillippe Coutinho but Aston Villa got an equalizer through their in-form striker, Christian Benteke. Fabian Delph scored the all-important goal that proved to be the match winner, which ruled out Liverpool’s chances of silverware this season. With the money the club spent this summer (£117m on eight players), it’s obvious to see that the club hasn’t been able to cope with the loss of Luis Suarez and to some extent, Daniel Sturridge. Raheem Sterling has been on the back pages for the ‘wrong reasons’ and a lot of burden have been placed on his shoulders this campaign.

However, some credit should go to Aston Villa and Tim Sherwood for what has been a great FA Cup campaign. It began with wins over Championship outfits, Blackpool and Bournemouth, before wins over fellow Premier League sides , Leicester City, West Brom and most recently, Liverpool.

There’s a lot of football to play between now and the FA Cup final, so we can focus on finishing strongly in the Premier League.

All roads lead to Wembley and it’s against Aston Villa.

Sayonara.

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Welbeck Guns Down Old Trafford and Sends Arsenal to Wembley

Former Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck struck past David de Gea to eliminate his former side from the FA Cup 

Manchester United 1 (Rooney 29′) – Arsenal 2 (Monreal 26′, Welbeck 61′)

Match HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

So Arsenal’s record at Old Trafford was well discussed about in the build up to the game. In the Gunners last 10 visits to the feared ground, their record was one draw and nine defeats, so it was only normal for some Arsenal fans not to feel 100% confident as the game progressed. However, Manchester United might have so many ‘stars’ on their books but they have been very poor under Louis van Gaal. Things just went their way in some games this season with their latest victory coming from a horrendous error from Newcastle’s goalie, Tim Krul.

Another talking point to the game was undoubtedly the return of Danny Welbeck to a place he called home. Following his transfer deadline day sale to Arsenal, LVG criticized the player publicly (rather shameful if you ask me) but he made mention of Radamel Falcao being one of the reasons he let Welbeck go. Since then, Falcao has scored foul goals in 19 appearances for United, while Welbeck has netted eight goals in 21 appearances for Arsenal.

As expected, it was end to end stuff as both sides battled for the right to play in Wembley next month. Santi Cazorla threaded a through ball to Welbeck but he failed to get it under his stride. Oxlade-Chamberlain lobbed a neat ball for Hector Bellerin whose cross was blocked by Daley Blind but a goal kick was given. Manchester United almost grabbed the lead when Marouane Fellaini controlled the ball superbly and laid it up for Ashley Young. The English winger failed to connect well with the ball and fired his shot over the bar.

Arsenal opened the scoring from a rather unlikely source. The Ox did well to take on a couple of markers before sending an inch-perfect pass to an unmarked Nacho Monreal. The Spanish fullback got the composure of Lionel Messi to place the ball past an onrushing David de Gea.

Arsenal left back Nacho Monreal jumps in the air after putting his side in the lead as Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain watches on

Barely three minutes after the Gunners took the lead, Man Utd pegged them back when Angel di Maria swung in a brilliant cross that was headed in at point-blank range by the scourge of Arsenal, Wayne Rooney. Maybe Laurent Koscielny should have judged the flight of the ball better but you can take nothing form a bullet header from such a peach of a cross.

Arsenal goalkeeper Szczesny, who replaced David Ospina, was unable to keep out Rooney's diving header 

It was game on as both sides fought tooth and nail to get the all-important goal that would tilt the game in their favor. Welbeck rose the highest to head in a cross goalwards but it turned out to be an easy save for de Gea. Di Maria sent in another whipping cross that almost forced an error out of Wojciech Szczesny. Chris Smalling had the chance to make it two but he contrived to miss from less than six yards, not like the Arsenal fans cared. Man Utd was on the ascendancy with di Maria firing a shot that was saved smartly by Szczesny.

Arsenal soaked up some pressure and used the counter attacking option as an outlet. Santi Cazorla looped a free kick over the wall but it was saved by de Gea. Arsene Wenger became concerned when the Ox pulled up short and was to be substituted for what seemed to be a hamstring injury. Wenger had braced up Theo Walcott to come in for the injured Chamberlain, but the manager changed his mind and opted for Aaron Ramsey instead. With Alexis Sanchez missing another chance from a breakaway, Szczesny’s poor clearance saw di Maria fire a shot that went just wide and it was heart in mouth stuff for the Arsenal faithful.

Danny Welbeck scored what proved to be the match winner when he reacted quickly to a poor Antonio Valencia back pass. Welbeck anticipated the ball, rounded the keeper and placed the ball to an unguarded net.

Welbeck placed the ball into an empty net to capitalise on a mistake by Manchester United right back Antonio Valencia 

Some Manchester United fans were expecting to see a ‘muted celebration’, but the lad let out a roar that could be heard on the Moon. You could see the emotion running through his veins as the game meant a lot to him than many other players on the pitch. Bellerin had a yellow card and was on the edge with a couple of challenges, so Wenger took the safer option of bringing on Calum Chambers in his stead. Alexis and Cazorla had chances to kill off contest but di Maria received his marching orders when he was booked for simulation and stupidly shoved the ref in frustration. Shortly afterwards, Adnan Januzaj received a yellow card for diving as well. Late on, Cazorla had a shot that was superbly saved by de Gea and Alexis shot went wide after the goalie made another spectacular save.

After the game, the draws were made and the Gunners are going to face the winner between Reading and Bradford. As expected, Wenger was effusive in his praise for Welbeck in his post-match press conference and I must commend the performance of Michael Oliver. The referee maintained the same level of consistency throughout the game and he was brave enough to make key decisions in the game.

After the game, the trolling on Twitter was in a world of its own and I’m honesty glad I was part of it. You may want to check out my timeline to see the “1-2″ trolls I came up with.

Sayonara

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Man Utd vs Arsenal – The FA Cup Draw I Wasn’t Hoping For

Arsenal 0 Manchester United 2: Louis van Gaal records first away win as Arsene Wenger's misery deepens

With seven teams securing victory in the FA Cup fifth round, the onus was on Manchester United to avoid an upset against Preston North End but when the lower division side scored first, Arsenal fans probably celebrated more than the home side because the draws for the quarterfinals had been made even before Manchester United kicked the ball yesterday.

As at yesterday, Arsenal was set to continue the defense of their title with Liverpool, Aston Villa, Bradford City, Blackburn Rovers, Reading, West Brom and Manchester United all setting their sights on the trophy as well. So when the draws started, I kept my fingers crossed to see who the Gunners would play before booking a double date with Wembley.

Aston Villa and their new manager, Tim Sherwood, celebrated a winning start to his career with the club but they have been paired against a West Brom side that demolished West Ham in the previous round. Since his arrival at the Hawthrons, Tony Pulis has done a good job with the lads and he has managed to bring the best out of Saido Berahino and Brown Ideye. Both strikers were going through a drought at some point in the season.

Bradford City has been the surprise package of the competition, as they were a couple of seasons ago in the Capital One Cup. Arsenal and Aston Villa crashed along the way as Bradford City went all the way to Wembley but they were destroyed by Swansea in the League Cup final. This season, they made history to be the first side to score Jose Mourinho four goals in his home and their fairytale run continued with a 2-0 win over Sunderland. Now they’ve been paired with familiar foes, Reading, and it’s going to be very interesting to see how the Bantams face off with the Royals.

Liverpool has found form in just the right time this season and their latest victory over Crystal Palace has seen them propel to the next round of the FA Cup but they have a tricky tie against a Blackburn side that thumped Stoke City. Daniel Sturridge’s return to full fitness has brought some upturn in the fortunes of Brendan Rodgers men and we can only watch and see how their season pans out.

Finally, Arsenal got a very tough draw against Manchester United. When I say very tough, I just think about how bad the Gunners have been when playing Manchester United. First things first, Old Trafford was the ground where the Gunners lost their majestic unbeaten record and I can bet that if Arsene Wenger’s side managed to get at least a point at Old Trafford in the night in 2004, that record would have gone for a longer while.

Then there are the horrific and humiliating defeats the Gunners have suffered at Old Trafford. If the 6-1 mauling wasn’t bad enough, the 8-2 demolition in 2011 was an absolute disgrace. Arsenal’s last win on the ground was as far back as 2006 in a 1-0 narrow victory. Sometimes it seems like it’s a curse from beyond that Arsenal tends to struggle against Manchester United. As bas as David Moyes was last season, he still managed to notch up four points in the league off the Gunners. When both sides met earlier in the season, Arsenal outplayed their opponents but their profligacy came back to haunt them.

If the Gunners want to win the competition, they have to end their wretched run at Old Trafford.

It was a draw I wasn’t hoping for, but hey, that’s football.

Sayonara.

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