In Review

Arsenal show their steel to book another FA Cup final

Sanchez scores the winner as the Gunners recover from 1-0 down to beat Manchester City at Wembley

Arsenal 2 Manchester 1 [after extra-time]

Arsenal went from 1-0 down to 2-1 up at Wembley to book a place in the FA Cup final and roll back the years to remind their fans of the days when they routinely fought back for victory.

Once upon a time the comebacks were so common it inspired the name of an Arsenal fanzine, but in recent seasons Arsenal have gained a reputation for fragility rather than fight. So there seemed little hope for the Gunners when they fell behind to Sergio Aguero's delightfully deft goal on 62 minutes.

The Argentine beat Petr Cech with a superb chip after a lightning counter from City, and most of the Wembley crowd expected the Sky Blues to go on and win the tie, and set up a date against Chelsea on 27 May.

But for once the Gunners did not crumble, and within ten minutes they were level when Nacho Monreal drilled Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's cross past Claudio Bravo.

Both sides had chances to win it in the closing stages of normal time, notably City, who had dominated the first-half and almost snatched the win late on when Yaya Toure hit the post and Fernandinho rattled the bar.

Arsenal held on, however, and the north London side looked the stronger as extra-time wore on. It was eventually Alexis Sanchez who scored the winning goal, the Chilean sweeping the ball home after Mesut Ozil's free-kick had sparked a goalmouth scramble.

"He is an animal, always ready to kill the opponent," said a delighted Arsene Wenger after the final whistle. "He will never give up."

The Frenchman was unsurprisingly cock-a-hoop after a period in which he has endured sustained criticism in the media as well as protests from the fans. Questions remain about the wisdom of handing him a new deal given that Arsenal lie seventh in the league, 18 points behind leaders Chelsea who, on the evidence of the way they despatched Spurs in Saturday's other semi-final, will be strong favourites in next month's final. But Wenger is entitled to bask in the achievement of reaching another FA Cup final.

That makes a record 20 finals for the Gunners - moving one ahead of Manchester United - and eight for Wenger, who should he lead them to victory against Chelsea, will receive his seventh winners' medal.

"I am very pleased, it was a big game today," said Wenger. "Overall it was a great performance not only technically but mentally. We became stronger and in the end deserved to win the game. The team performance was there. When the players give their best and are completely focused you always stand up for them."

Wenger kept faith in the 3-4-3 formation he first employed in the win at Middlesbrough last week, and his confidence in defenders Gabriel, Rob Holding and Laurent Koscielny was rewarded.

"That is the second time we played this formation and credit to the boys, we have shown the character we have in this team," said midfielder Aaron Ramsey.

Nonetheless, the Welshman, like his manager, knows that between now and the final, they have to focus solely on trying to finish in the top four of the Premier League. "It was important to win today, to have something to look forward to," said Ramsey. "But now we have another seven cup finals to try and get into the top four."

Recommended

Africa Cup of Nations: eight killed after stampede in Cameroon
The scene of the stampede at Olembe Stadium in Yaoundé, Cameroon 
The latest on . . .

Africa Cup of Nations: eight killed after stampede in Cameroon

English football fan disorder ‘getting worse’
Aston Villa’s Matty Cash and Lucas Digne were struck by a bottle at Goodison Park
In Focus

English football fan disorder ‘getting worse’

Sent packing: Djokovic and Benitez
Novak Djokovic (centre) arrives in Dubai after leaving Australia
Sports Shorts

Sent packing: Djokovic and Benitez

Africa Cup of Nations: is there a more disrespected tournament?
The Africa Cup of Nations opening ceremony in Yaoundé, Cameroon
In Depth

Africa Cup of Nations: is there a more disrespected tournament?

Popular articles

What would a Russian ‘lightning war’ against Ukraine look like?
Members of the Kiev territorial defence forces take part in drills outside Kiev, Ukraine
Getting to grips with . . .

What would a Russian ‘lightning war’ against Ukraine look like?

Best new TV crime dramas of 2022
Vicky McClure in Trigger Point
In Depth

Best new TV crime dramas of 2022

Is Bosnia on the brink of another civil war?
Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik
In Depth

Is Bosnia on the brink of another civil war?

The Week Footer Banner