Welcome to my Arsenal blog for the 2015/16 season; here you can check out my thoughts on the current goings on at the club.
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Sunday, 9 March 2014

Wembley beckons as Arsenal beat Everton

Arsenal bounced back from their defeat against Stoke with a brilliant performance in the FA Cup on Saturday. Mesut Ozil, Mikel Arteta and Olivier Giroud all scored goals as Arsenal comfortably beat Everton as the Gunners reached the semi-finals for the first time in five years. Following our recent run in the high pressure matches, it was a huge relief to see us put in a such a great performance. We've had perhaps the luck of the draw in a sense that we've played every game at home, but we have now knocked out both Merseyside clubs, and Spurs. With Bayern Munich in the week in mind, Wenger made a few changes. Lukasz Fabianski continued as our FA Cup keeper whilst Thomas Vermaelen came in for the injured Koscielny. Sanogo got a chance up top whilst Ozil and the Ox both came back into the starting line-up. Flamini meanwhile replaced the injured Wilshere.
Giroud and Ozil were on the score-sheet as Arsenal reached the semi-finals
This was perhaps our most crucial game of the season, one that would determine the character of this side and would show whether we could finally put our Spring hoodoo behind us. Although we still have some tough games to come, reaching a semi-final of a Cup having just beaten a resilient Everton side should fill the squad with confidence. After the disappointing defeat last weekend it was important to bounce back like we have so many times this season, and that's exactly what we did.

One of the most pleasing aspects of our win was the performance of Mesut Ozil. He's been widely criticised recently and was even jeered off the pitch when he played for Germany in the week. However what he did on Saturday was a perfect response to his critics and to anyone who doubted him. He got the ball rolling with the first goal just seven minutes in. Cazorla led a break away and then fed the German who rolled the ball home. It was a precise finish from a man who now looked to have a new burst of life. It was the German play-makers first goal for exactly three months where he scored against the same opponents. He meanwhile assisted the fourth goal with a brilliant bit of awareness to pick out Giroud after a typical counter attacking move.

Moving onto Giroud it was good to see him bounce back too. He was brilliant against Sunderland but then truly awful against Stoke. Yaya Sanogo started yesterday and didn't do himself any harm but Giroud offered us something different. I don't know why, but he always seems to play better at home and make a lot more runs. His first goal was a brilliant piece of work down the right by Sagna and Giroud was then left with a tap in, meanwhile he also got himself into a good position to finish the game off for his second. It was a very good performance and should bring him confidence going into the game against Bayern.

The decision to play Arteta and Flamini together caused a bit of a stir because so far this season they've been incapable of playing beside each other. I don't know whether it was because he was against his old club but Arteta played one of his best 90 minutes all season. It was great to see him in his more preferred position, driving forward from midfield rather than holding back. He was busy in and around the penalty area and deserved his goal. However he was forced to take his penalty twice after Giroud was encroaching for the first one. Both were taken superbly though. Thomas Vermaelen meanwhile put in a solid performance in place of the injured Koscielny and shows the good squad depth we have.

Next up of course if Bayern Munich in the week. Last year's performance in Germany gives me the confidence that we can go there and achieve a result. Man City have already done so in this years Champions League so why can't we? It'll be a very tough game and one where we'll have to stop Bayern scoring, but score three times ourselves if we're to reach the quarter-finals.

The teams line-ups:

Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs(88), Flamini, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain(78), Ozil, Cazorla, Sanogo(61). 
Subs: Viviano, Jenkinson(88), Rosicky(78), Miyaichi, Gnabry, Podolski, Giroud(61). 

Everton: Joel, Coleman, Stones, Distin, Baines, McCarthy, Barry, Mirallas(76), Barkley(84), Pienaar(76), Lukaku. 
Subs: Howard, Hibbert, Browning, Osman(76), McGeady(76), Deulofeu(84), Naismith.

My man of the match: Mesut Ozil.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg.

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