Arsenal gave themselves their best chance of landing some silverware since the humiliating League Cup final loss against Birmingham with a commendable win over Everton.
I was glad to see Arsene didn’t make wholesale changes and foolishly prioritise our lost Champions League cause because we have a very good chance of winning the FA Cup now. Only Man City should hold fear for us and if we can avoid them in the semis (assuming they win today of course) we may be able to finally end the trophy drought which has hung like a millstone around the club’s neck in recent years. I believe the psychological lift would be immense if we won it, similar to the boost that signing Ozil visibly gave to the rest of the squad earlier in the season.
Wenger only rested Giroud and Szczesny, with the latter making way for Fabianski who made a couple of flaps that doesn’t inspire confidence ahead of his enforced start in Munich.
Sanogo didn’t do much either and looks exactly what he is — a raw, promising youngster who doesn’t have the required experience or composure to be much use at the business end of the season. I reckon Wenger will turn him into a very good player in time and will probably earn the club a nice transfer fee in the future. But right here and now we need a solid campaigner who can be relied upon and Sanogo isn’t it.
On to the game and we had the ideal start when Cazorla found Ozil with a wonderful pass and the German cooly slotted home — a brilliant finish of immense composure.We then got on top but made some sloppy passes that gave Everton the opportunity to break on us quite a few times. On one such occasion we pushed both full backs on and when Arteta lost possession high up the field we were in trouble. Barkley sped down the right and crossed for Mirallas, whose scuffed effort fell kindly for Lukaku to tap in. I was surprised we were so gung ho considering we were a goal ahead — this was the kind of mistake we made many times last season but seemed to have eradicated from our play this term. Let’s hope it was an aberration rather than the return of a bad habit.
The match was in the balance thereafter and it looked as though the next goal would be vital. Thankfully Arsenal got it on 68 minutes when the Ox (who had a bright game I thought) drew a foul from Barry and Arteta kept his cool to convert a retaken penalty.
Everton pushed forward in search of the equaliser and were punished on the break as substitute Giroud helped himself to two late goals to give the scoreline a flattering gloss.
So overall a deserved and well earned victory which gives the fans a semi final day out at Wembley next month. It doesn’t banish the painful memories of defeat at Stoke, but we’re in the last four of the FA Cup and Tottenham’s defeat at Chelsea gives us breathing space ahead of the crucial north London derby next weekend.
It’s been a good weekend — let’s hope for a kind semi final draw later to top it off.