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.
Latest News: Arsenal draw 3-3 with Liverpool, goals came from Ramsey and Giroud (x2) - match thoughts to come!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Welbeck scores against former club to take Arsenal to Wembley

Arsenal are through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup after a fantastic 2-1 win over rivals Manchester United. The Gunners put in a very professional performance that drew comparisons to our win over Manchester City not so long ago. Goals from Nacho Monreal and Danny Welbeck back at his old club ensured we reached Wembley for the second season in a row as our dreams of retaining the FA Cup remain very much alive. Arsene Wenger's team selection was a brave one; Szczesny came back in for David Ospina whilst Welbeck started ahead of the inform Giroud up front. They were the only two surprise inclusions but Welbeck especially justified his selection as Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sanchez started on the wings with Ozil beside them.
Welbeck scored the winner against his old club as Arsenal advanced in the FA Cup
After the debacle against Monaco you'd be forgiven for thinking that Arsenal would crumble under pressure against Manchester United last night, especially considering our recent record against them. However to bounce back in a game as big as this so soon after what happened in the Champions League was incredibly satisfying. I said how after that game we hadn't learnt our lesson from last season's exploits. But with victories away from home against both Manchester clubs this season it shows that Arsenal are indeed progressing forward, and slowly learning what they have to do in order to beat the big clubs.

We set up in a similar fashion to the game at the Etihad with the defence for the most part playing very solidly with Coquelin supporting them in the holding role. It worked a treat as we kept a solid line and didn't commit too many forward. The majority of our attacks came with us moving the ball quickly forward and with the pace of Alexis, Welbeck and Oxlade-Chamberlain Arsenal were able to hurt a team that seem to have been troubled by pace previously this season.

However our first goal was to come from a very unlikely source; Nacho Monreal. We moved the ball quickly down the left before play opened up for Mesut Ozil. Instead of running towards the penalty area he found Chamberlain who tip-toed his way brilliantly to the edge of the area. He was then able to pick out the unmarked Monreal who finished with the composure of a striker for only his second Gunners goal. It was a vital goal in the context of the game as like with the game against City we had taken the lead and had something to hold on to.

Albeit what we did have to hold on to didn't last long. One thing we can be found guilty of from last night was not getting tight enough to Angel di Maria. He hasn't been in the best of form this season but still has that extreme quality. Monreal had dealt well with him for most of the game but this was one instance in which him or Coquelin could have done more to close him down. The Argentine's ball was perfect for Wayne Rooney who headed home the equaliser. After that it seemed as though United ran out of ideas though.

Their man game plan was to get di Maria on the ball or pump it long to Fellaini. Not many chances came of that though in what was a hugely solid performance from Koscielny and Mertesacker, and also from Monreal who I thought was our man of the match.

We managed to press well at the right moments in the game and sat back when needed, much like the game against City. Danny Welbeck's work rate was brilliant all game which is expected and that's what brought him what turned out to be the winning goal. Valencia's back pass was seized upon by Welbeck and he knocked it past de Gea before sliding the ball into an empty net. It was a deserved goal and one that marked huge significance coming against his boyhood club and the team he once played for. It brought a huge sense of elation for Arsenal fans who for too long have seen former players come back to haunt them. The names of which won't be mentioned because for now we deserve to celebrate.

Mesut Ozil's form instantly after returning from injury was brilliant and he has peter'd off in the last couple of games. However for me we shouldn't be concerned about that. He played a vital role in the first goal and his work-rate of late has been outstanding. He's covered a lot of ground and although he hasn't offered much in terms of goals/assists in the last few matches the way he has covered the ground has made up for it. A similar sort of thing can be said for Alexis Sanchez. He scored against QPR and his work rate against United was also exceptional and he did well in helping out Monreal down United's right flank. He was at the heart of most our attacks and caused Valencia all sorts of problems. He was only denied a goal late on by a brilliant de Gea save.

Goalkeeper de Gea has been Manchester United's outstanding performer this season and Santi Cazorla who played very well alongside Coquelin again, had a volley superbly kept out by the Spanish keeper. His ball retention was excellent and he drove us forward well. Our task of course was made easier by di Maria's sending off but our performance up to then had been brilliant.

This game was of course an FA Cup tie so to get the win in what is most likely our only remaining chance of achieving silverware this season was crucial. We hadn't beaten United at Old Trafford in years so to finally get the monkey off our back shows how much progression this team is making together. We're now off to Wembley where we'll face either Bradford or Reading who are due to replay each other, in the semi-finals.

The team's line-ups:

Manchester United: de Gea, Valencia, Rojo(73), Smalling, Shaw(45), Blind, Herrera(45), Fellaini, di Maria, Young, Rooney.
Subs: Valdes, Jones(45), Rafael, Carrick(45), Mata, Januzaj(73), Falcao.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Bellerin(66), Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain(50), Ozil, Sanchez, Welbeck(74).
Subs: Martinez, Chambers(66), Gibbs, Ramsey(50), Walcott, Akpom, Giroud(74).

My man of the match: Nacho Monreal.

Referee: Michael Oliver.
Attendance: 74,285.


  1. Very interesting read. You're right about Arsenal not getting close enough to Di Maria at times, only issue with that is if he turns someone like Monreal, he'll be off, so at times it is better for Monreal to give himself a couple of yards ahead. However, he doesn't really have the pace to recover if he makes a positional error.

    He played very well throughout the game yesterday though & I think that him and Bellerin being attacking outlets for the whole 90 was the difference in our quality against Utd's.

    1. Just seen this, apologies for late reply mate. Had a chat on twitter didn't we? Yeah Monreal has really improved this season. Liked the fact that Moneral and Bellerin both did their jobs defensively and seized upon United's poor defending to get forward more than the full backs did at City!

    2. Yeah we did. I still prefer Gibbs but Monreal is proving himself to be a very good stand in at the moment!