And that is why they play the games. Less than a month ago, Manchester City ran roughshod over Arsenal to resume the Premier League schedule. The Cityzens have been eviscerating teams, lighting up the scoreboard. But not today.
Not in the FA Cup Semifinal at Wembley. A competition in which Arsenal are literally the best team all-time. At ground that the Gunners have owned. Arsenal have played in the most FA Cup Semifinals, have now made the most finals (21), and have lifted the trophy the most times of any club (13).
I am not sure Arsenal could have played any better today. That’s not hyperbole. City were always going to dominate possession, which they did, but Arsenal limited them to just one shot on target on 14 attempts. Raheem Sterling fluffed a gilt-edged chance, but other than that, Arsenal defended heroically, and Emi Martinez made the one strong save asked of him.
David Luiz had his best game in an Arsenal shirt. Shkodran Mustafi was massive (hopefully his hamstring is alright). Kieran Tierney is a beast and provided a wonderful ball to set up the second goal. Ainsley Maitland-Niles was near-perfect, which is quite the accomplishment given his lack of playing time. Hector Bellerin contained Raheem Sterling. Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka continued their strong play at the base of the midfield. Alexandre Lacazette’s hold-up play was fantastic, and he put in quite the defensive shift. And Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored two of his three chances to lift Arsenal to the win.
That was really, really fun. A match worthy of an FA Cup Semifinal. Arsenal march on to the Final, with a shot at silverware and Europa League qualification still alive and kicking. It’ll be Chelsea or Manchester United. Bring ‘em on.
Gooners, what did she wear?