Arsenal 1-1 Wigan (Arsenal win penalties, 4-2): FA Cup Semifinal

Mike Hewitt

The performance was far from a classic, but Arsenal are into the FA Cup final.

0-1 Jordi Gomez 63' (pen)
1-1 Per Mertesacker 82'

Holy shit, that was close.

Arsenal were about eight minutes from crashing out of the FA Cup in what has to be the club's best chance to win a trophy in years, but a late goal and a great penalty performance by Lukasz Fabianski have Arsenal into the FA Cup final for the first time since 2005. It's Arsenal's first cup final since the 2-1 loss to Birmingham City in 2011. And yeah. It was close.

Arsenal started brightly and created a few early chances while running up the possession score in the first half, but were unable to break through. Much of the Good Stuff was coming from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who looked like he was near his best for much of the game.

As the second half started Wigan Athletic started finding more of the game, and in the 63rd minute they got their goal. Callum McManaman cut to his left and into the penalty box, and Per Mertesacker made a clumsy challenge. McManaman went down and a penalty was rightly called. Even after a delay (because of an injury to Nacho Monreal forcing Kieran Gibbs to replace him) Jordi Gomez scored the penalty easily and Arsenal were in trouble.

The next twenty minutes were absolute hell. Arsenal created plenty of chances, but each one was stalled. Until the Big Fucking German redeemed himself. Santi Cazorla played in a corner and after a few ricochets, The OC played the ball in to Mertesacker, who hit a tremendous header and scored. I'm not sure whether he screamed louder than me, but it looked like it.

No more goals meant extra time, and that passed with very little incident. On to penalties, and my heart rate skyrocketing.

Lukasz Fabianski, already having had allowed one penalty, was brilliant in the shootout. He saved both of Wigan's first two attempts, giving Arsenal a massive cushion. Even though the last two Wigan kicks were good, Arsenal's contingent of Mikel Arteta, Kim Kallstrom, Olivier Giroud, and Santi Cazorla was perfect. Four in, and Arsenal are in to the FA Cup final.

It wasn't a great (or even particularly good) performance. But in a knockout tournament, sometimes you need a little luck. We got it today.

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