Arsenal did what many thought was impossible and beat Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final to make it to their 21st final of the competition they’ve won more than anyone else.
While Arsenal might have rode a lot of luck to take all three points against Liverpool midweek, the performance they put on against Manchester City was simply exceptional given where both sides were going into this game.
Determination, discipline and focus fused with a clinical nature in front of goal as Arsenal closed City all over the pitch in a manner rarely seen from the Gunners.
The first half was something none of us expected. So was the second.
Arsenal started slowly and within a few minutes it looked like all our worst fears would come true as City wouldn’t even let us have a go with the ball.
But as the first half got going properly, Arsenal grew into the game and started to provide a threat of their own. Then they were the better side, confidence started to flow through them in front of our eyes in a way that would have horrified Unai Emery.
Even the commentators noticed, declaring Arsenal the better team with the most ‘cutting edge’.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened the scoring for Arsenal against expectations but not against the run of play. He finished off a wonderful team goal to put the Gunners deservedly in front, his first goal against Manchester City, but his second in two in the FA Cup.
By the end of the first half Arsenal had finished with three shots on target – as many as they’d managed in their last three games against City combined. Not bad for a side that started this game with a goal difference of minus 18 since Pep Guardiola arrived.
The second half started with City once again dominating possession. Arsenal held their defensive shape as if they’d been drilled by Tony Pulis himself.
But in a carbon copy of the first, Arsenal scored again on the counter. Auba slotted home once again after Kieran Tierney played him in with a delightful chip over the back of City’s defence.
The nutmeg of Ederson was just the cherry.
From that point on it was a training game, attack against defence. It’s game Arsenal rarely win but as this match wound into the last 10 minutes, you started to feel that they had this.
They knew what they were doing.
How could that be?
But it was.
Against Manchester City.
I think I need another rum….