Arsenal are into the FA Cup semi-final for a record 28th time after dumping Manchester United at Old Trafford and it was a fantastic way to put to bed the ghosts of 11 failed attempts since 2006. Of course, there were many lessons on board but we cram all into a quintet.
- Arsenal are different without Giroud
It might have surprised a few that Arsene Wenger chose to go with Danny Welbeck over the in-form Olivier Giroud and seeing how United utilized Marouane Fellaini in the first half, Arsenal fans had good reason to feel their team would have had much of the same benefit better capitalized on with the 6ft 4inch Frenchman up top. You could have had more reason to fault that decision with some good opportunities for a cross wasted early on. But the forward four of Alexis, Ozil, the Ox and Welbeck showed such great movement that reminded us why everyone had been salivating at the thought of them finally clicking.
- Welbeck can be better
Only Sylvain Wiltord’s goal, at least in modern memory, will come first in the list of Arsenal winners at Old Trafford before Welbeck’s but it is fair to imagine a good chunk of United fans ranking this even above that as they know this dagger was stabbed by their very own, especially as he emphatically celebrated. It is a great theme for banter but it won’t be lost on some Arsenal fans that the Longsight man has not exactly lit up the stage at the Emirates and will want him to kick on fully after this. There were some occasions in the game where simple diagonal runs would have put him in perfect positions for a good chance on goal and it was partly frustrating to see him running almost directly behind retreating United defenders.
- Monreal is Mister Manchester
Welbeck will easily steal the headlines for his winner and rightly so, but the contributions of some players look more and more influential by the game and not least is Nacho Monreal. A recall to the Spanish squad for the International games at the end of the month somewhat tell us about the rejuvenation of the former Malaga man and Old Trafford, like the Etihad Stadium, was the latest stage on which he showed his vast improvement. A goal and assist in two visits to the North West this season will surely leave Gibbs wondering.
- No vacancy in defensive midfield
Curiously, not many papers went with the theme of this being another ‘big test’ for Francis Coquelin; it seems to have finally donned on everyone that the lad has not been on a fluke run and what a massive game the 24-year old had! Fellaini proved a real handful as he was basically the hinge of Louis Van Gaal’s long ball tactics but in Coquelin, he met a nightmare that stayed with him till he finally got booked. It is reasonable to expect a dip into the summer market for another DM but I, for one, would stick with him.
- Walcott shunned again
There is no question as to who should have come on for the Ox as it absolutely had to be someone who would help in retaining possession while offering some threat on the attack too. While Walcott is more than able in the latter, the weakness of his defending and playmaking is not up for debate and unless he gets some credits in that, it will continue to be hard for him to get into this team.
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