Arsenal 4 Everton 1
(Özil 7, Arteta pen 68, Giroud 83,85 Lukaku 32)

Arsenal fired four goals past Everton, securing safe passage into the FA Cup semi-finals. Mesut Özil opened the scoring only to see Romelu Luaku grab Everton’s first half leveller. A re-taken Mikel Arteta penalty awarded after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was felled by Gareth Barry restored the Gunners’ lead, with substitute Olivier Giroud firing a quick fire double in as many minutes to power the Gunners to another Wembley date. Arsene Wenger’s side have enjoyed a kind FA Cup draw with each round keeping the Gunners in London. Should they prevail in their next two FA Cup matches and claim the famous trophy on May 17th, that fact will remain unchanged. The Gunners’ fortunes so intrinsically linked to the form of Özil, saw their record signing put in a shift which is mandatory in England, a message that Özil is beginning to understand and from which Arsenal are seeing reward.

The ebb and flow of an absorbing tie was assured as both teams like to play football in a positive frame. Roberto Martinez’ men had already grabbed a late Premiership point in early December, and approached this FA Cup quarter final in the same mindset.

However it was Arsenal who took the lead with only seven minutes on the clock. Bacary Sagna won possession and found Santi Cazorla deep in midfield. Hustling and twisting his way past his marker – and at pace, Cazorla found Özil, and as the blue shirts tried to put him under pressure, the German slipped the ball beyond Joel Robles for the opener.

The Gunners then enjoyed a sustained period of possession and pressurised the visitors which should’ve doubled their advantage. Yaya Sanogo powered a shot which Robles parried for a corner. The Everton keeper hadn’t endeared himself with the vocal Evertonians, as he chose to punch clear from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but still kept the pressure up on his team.

When they got the ball, Everton were inventive and easy on the eye, and but for a late defensive tackle from Sagna as Steven Pienaar positioned for a shot which arguably would have levelled. Back came Arsenal in this high tempo affair, and a neat free flowing move from the left saw Kieran Gibbs with the final effort which lacked neither power nor direction. From the other side, Sagna angled an effort that troubled Robles enough for the Everton keeper to almost palm the ball into his own net as he attempted to clear.

Everton’s early labours however were finally rewarded after an Arsenal attack broke down. Former Toffee, Mikel Arteta powered through, but seeing his path and shot obstructed, Ross Barkley gained possession and raced away. The retreating Özil and Mathieu Flamini couldn’t get close to the attacker in blue who crossed for Kevin Mirallas to feed Romelu Lukaku to then tap in the leveller after 32 minutes.

With their next attack, the Gunners almost re-took the lead. Lone striker Sanogo won the header that Oxlade-Chamberlain pounced onto and struck a low venomous shot which Robles did well to palm for a corner. The England man was having a very influential half, winning back possession, and just before the break when he gave the ball away to Lukaku, had the presence of mind to chase back to put a defensive block on the Belgian. Cazolra was only a Silvain Distin deflection away from restoring the Gunners’ lead as Robles finished his shaky half with further uncertainty from crosses.

With their first foray onto Lukasz Fabinaki’s goal after the break, Everton squandered a gilt edged chance to take the lead. Thomas Vermalen slipped allowing Lukaku to square to the unmarked Barkley, but his off target finish was a let off, and would come to dearly cost the Toffees.

Cazolra continued to torment the visitors and curled a beauty of a shot which Robles turned away for another Arsenal corner. Just past the hour mark and Wenger brought on Olivier Giroud for Sanogo.

In their quest to retake the lead, Oxlade-Chamberlain weaved his way to the byline only for Barry to trip up the Arsenal man earning a nailed on penalty. Up stepped Arteta to send the penalty to Robles right. Referee Mike Clattenburg ordered a retake as Giroud was deemed to have encroached prior to the spot kick being taken. If he felt any pressure, Arteta didn’t show it. This time he calmly slotted the spot kick to Robles’ left and his time the goal stood.

Mirallas and Barklay tried to claw Everton’s way back into the tie, but Arsenal held firm, and seven minutes before the final whistle increased their lead. Substitute Thomas Rosicky fed Sagna deep on the right. The France defender had time to look up to pinpoint his cross for Giroud to finish from six yards out. A 3-1 scoreline didn’t flatter the Gunners and two minutes later they had a fourth.

From a fast break, Rosicky fed Özil. He’d spotted the charge of Giroud and with only Robles ahead of him, placed the ball into the net for his second and Arsenal’s fourth goal of the afternoon. Giroud had a hat-trick in his sights late on but hit wide when clear.

The win sees Arsenal reach the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley played over the weekend of April 12/13th? Two further wins in this competition and the Gunners’ nine year wait for a trophy could finally be over.