I am not going to mention Phil Browm's
post-match sideshow that is covering the back pages this morning. Crap. I already did. Well, I won't again.
Instead, I want to spend a moment or two basking in the warm sunshine of our first FA Cup semi-final for four years. There is something magical about the cup competitions, and the FA Cup in particular, and although the FA Cup is the least important of the major trophies we compete for (I'm ignoring the Carling Cup completely), it would be great to win it this year, particularly as we will have to beat Chelsea and in all likelihood ManUre
to achieve that aim. That really would be an excellent result.
And I don't see any reason why we can't do it. I'll mention a couple of key players in a minute, but the reasons why Arsenal seem to be closing in on the good times again has a great deal to do with determination, teamwork and a positive frame of mind. That and a nice big dose of luck. Lovely, lovely, luck. Thank you linesman. You are a legend.
The crowd also played an important part last night. Noise levels dropped towards the end of the first half, Arsenal had not played great, and Hull had scored a ridiculous fluke of a goal (you won't see Phil Brown saying that in the papers either. Crap. Mentioned Phil Brown again). But the Emirates was on fine form for the second half and that, I think, really helped the players put in a terrific shift in the second half. Apart from one Geovanni fizzer
that just missed the top right corner, Hull did virtually nothing in the second half. So well done to the 50,000 or so Gooners who made it to the stadium last night.
I have absolutely no doubts that we thoroughly
deserved the win. But lets also give credit where its due. Hull are a well organised side that, despite being very good at persistent fouling, play relatively decent football and have several good players. Yes, their goal was hugely fortunately, but they defended like gladiators for a full hour after scoring and with 18 minutes left on the clock, I turned to 1979Gooner
to say that this was now getting very sticky indeed. I would have been mighty pissed off to have gone out of the FA Cup had the roles been reversed over that last 18 minutes.
Thankfully though, by that stage, Bendtner
was on the pitch and was putting in one of his super-sub routines. And sure enough, about 45 seconds later, Bendtner
played a bit of pin-ball with about 3 Hull defenders on the right hand side of the box, somehow appeared through the melee with the ball at his feet, squared it beautifully to Arshavin
, who laid it back on a plate for RVP
to roof it. A top drawer goal and a great piece of unselfish play from Arshavin
Indeed, the little Russian midget was magnificent throughout the game. One highlight, again in the second half, saw him trot at the Hull right back (Dawson I think), threatened to jink left/right a couple of times, and managed to cause Dawson to simply collapse in a heap on the ground. Quite amazing. Arshavin's
passing is also absolutely top notch. Some of the slide-rule balls he played were so perfectly weighted that I think even Dennis Bergkamp
would have been proud. Arshavin
brings a dose of magic to the Arsenal team and he was central to a lot of what we did well last night.
I have no real idea how a lightweight midfield of Arshavin
could be blended, but it would be amazing if they could all play. Of course, we would never win a tackle or a header, and thats part of the problem.
The answer, I suspect, may lie in the developing power of Alex Song, who put in another excellent performance last night. Denilson
has potential as well, but even with a water carrier behind Cesc
in the middle, that still leaves Arshavin
fighting for places on the wings. Whilst we can all have sleepless nights worrying about what Wenger's
first XI might be, lets also remember that our injury record in recent years has been appalling, so that none of our top players have spent much time on the bench. And I suspect that Arsene's
midget army of oompa
is going to continue that good record for years to come.
And, just like Roma last Wednesday, the record books will not record the luck that got us through. Arsenal played well and thats
the thing to focus on. We came back from a goal down and beat a team that were desperate to reach their day out at Wembley
I can't wait to stuff Chelsea on 18 April. Its going to be great.