Arsenal 2 Manchester City 1 aet
Monreal 71, Alexis 101, Aguero 62

Arsenal came through a thorough examination of their much in need of recently team spirit to see off Manchester City in their FA Cup semi-final encounter at Wembley on Sunday and now face Chelsea in the showpiece FA Cup final on May 27th. Chelsea had thrashed Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 a day earlier, but it was an under pressure Arsenal who having gone a goal behind to Sergio Aguero, struck back through a rare Nacho Monreal strike and with the scores level at 1-1 after 90 minutes, then struck an extra time winner through Alexis Sanchez to set up what promises to be another special day out at the home of football.

The respective mangers Pep Guradiola and Arsene Wenger also had designs on a Premier League title this season, but the former in his first season in England and the latter in maybe what could be his last locked horns on Sunday, and although this FA Cup semi-final was more of a slow burner, it definitely took off as the game progressed.

Laurent Koscielny did have the ball in the back of the net, but was offside, while Raheem Sterling’s effort from Leroy Sane’s cross was deemed to have gone out of play before Sterling pounced. David Silva saw a header tipped over the bar by Petr Cech. Midway through the first half, Silva had to be replaced by Sterling after feeling the affects of Gabriel’s challenge.

Goalless at the break, Sergio Aguero latched onto Yaya Toure’s ball over the top, after Aaron Ramsey had been caught high up in possession. Once the fading run of Nacho Monreal was passed, a dink over the oncoming Petr Cech by Aguero gave City the lead after 62 minutes.

Less than ten minutes later and Monreal atoned for his lack of pace coverage for the City goal, with a volley with his right foot from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross. City’s defensive cover of Jesus Navas and Raheem Sterling had been prized apart and the Gunners now began to fire.

With no further goals added in 90 minutes, extra time and the influence of substitute Danny Welbeck would see Arsenal home. Welbeck came on for Giroud after 83 minutes and began to ask serious questions of the tiring City defence. His run to beat Nicolas Otamendi and shot deserved a goal, but his effort flew wide.

With 101 minutes on the clock, Mesut Özil’s free kick enabled Laurent Koscielny to head back into a congested City area. Welbeck’s turn and shot grasped nothing but air, but there was Alexis Sanchez to strike home for what proved to be the winner.

Arsenal and Wenger celebrated at the final whistle and given the fan unrest and pressure coming into this semi final, the club deserve praise for not only the manner of their response, but the way the players fought for each other, and all with a new three man defensive line up.

Following his side’s win over City, Wenger could lift a record seventh FA Cup, but should Chelsea prevail, it will be Conte’s first ever Cup competition triumph.

Wenger was happy for another Wembley final and spoke of how seeing the fans happy at Wembley was pleasing to him, as was his players response following some questionable performances in the Premier League recently.

His players revealed that they wanted to win the FA Cup for Wenger, while Wenger insisted that they be happy in their game as a team. But what of playing three in defence. Koscielny, Gabriel and Rob Holding covered themselves in glory in the new system, so could an earlier defensive shake up have helped Arsenal earlier in the season of their Premier League campaign ?

” Well, yes. I like your question, because it shows exactly what our job is. No matter what you do, even if you get it right at some stage, people say ‘Why didn’t you do it earlier?’ It’s like the opposite is right, is wrong as well. If you get your starting line up wrong, you change it at half-time, people say ‘You see, he is a tactical magician!’ because he changed the team at half-time.

” But they forget that we got it wrong at the start. So you can always judge on both ways. I think what I did is just to give a bit more security to a team who conceded three goals in the last three away games, at West Brom, at Liverpool, at Crystal Palace and at some stage even to focus on something different for the players recreates some confidence,” said Wenger who will now look for similar performances in the final seven Premier League games to ensure another top four finish, with another happy Wembley memory come May.

Arsenal against Chelsea promises to be some FA Cup final, and one thing for sure, neither side will want to come up short.