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Wigan – Arsenal a view from the stands

If you’ve been trying to access Untold since last saturday you will know that the site has been down more than up.  We’ve had a team working on the problems and we’re back – at least for now.  But if we vanish again, do keep an eye on us on Twitter, and on the history site (www.blog.woolwicharsenal.co.uk) which is where we sometimes migrate to in moments of difficulty.

Anyway, a couple of articles are very late, but still worth recording I think.

Tony

The match

By Walter Broeckx (with a few comments from Tony especially where Walter has impugned my mathematical ability)

Sitting in my seat at Wembley I had a good view on the match.

Arsenal started brightly in the first 5 minutes. Resulting in two scoring possibilities for Arsenal. The first one was when Oxlade-Chamberlain couldn’t control the ball and it fell to the Wigan keeper. And a few minutes later a cross from The Ox was headed towards goal  but again Carson could stop the ball and Ramsey was just beaten for the rebound by a Wigan defender.

Wigan then found their organisation and started to defend in numbers. And started their time wasting. It was amazing how much time they took for each throw and for each goal kick. It was clear that they wanted to get the tempo out of the match as much as possible.

I know a lot of people were moaning about Arsenal not running forward and attacking Wigan blindly. It might have worked. But it also could have resulted in a counter for Wigan and that was what they were hoping for. So Arsenal were trying to be patient is something I can understand. We have ran in to a counter a few times too often in the last weeks.

So it was all rather slow in the first half resulting in a few chances for Arsenal, the assistant missing an offside decision when Podolski might have got a chance, Sagna with an attempt from a corner when he just missed the target from a very tight angle.  Sanogo with a good chance late on but his first touch took him too far and Carson could stop the attempt.

So at half time the 0-0 was what Wigan hoped for and we should have taken at least one of our chances.

The second half Arsenal again saw not really going full forward. They probably knew how Wigan won at City (on the counter) and wanted to avoid that scenario.

Then it all turned bad after 58 minutes. Fabianski who up to then only had to stop one shot straight at him suddenly faced a penalty.  Was there a foul on Monreal from the Wigan player that forced the penalty? It looked like one from my position. But the ref let a few fouls go on Arsenal players and was rather strict the other way round. The tackle from Mertesacker was a foul but as almost no replays were shown from the possible foul on Monreal I cannot comment on that too much. I do know that Monreal had to come off and Gibbs came on.

Jordi Gomes converted the penalty even though Fabianski came close to the ball. So the worst case scenario was on the cards. Being behind against Wigan. A few people lost it and two who had been moaning from the start left the stadium after some 70 minutes. I hope they never come back again.  [You were lucky Walter – the fatboy and his dad behind me stayed to the end – Tony]

It took Arsenal a while to recover from that blow. In fact I think the team waited till the moaners got out the stadium and then they upped the tempo. Now it wasn’t the case of avoiding the counter. Now was the time to go forward and take the risk of another counter. From the 70th minute it was one way football. Giroud came on for Podolski and Arsenal changed it up front with Sanogo and Giroud playing up top.

The pressure was mounting on Wigan. A first big chance ended up against the post after a header from Sagna. A moment when you could think: oh no it is one of those days.  Hardly seconds later Gibbs had a free header and Carson could only half stop the effort going towards the goal line but a defender could kick the ball away just in front of the goal line and a corner followed.

That corner was headed by Mertesacker, to Vermaelen and then went to Sanogo with his back to goal. He laid it off to The Ox who had a shot and then our BFG made up for his penalty foul and headed the ball over the goal line. The crowd went mad and we even had a man on our end losing his balance and ending up on the black linen that protected the first rows in the upper end.

On the celebrations in the stands I think I saw the brother of Mertesacker losing it completely. Just as Per on the field. I think I saw a few tears in his eyes when he got up after having scored.

It was all Arsenal after that in and a low shot from Giroud was well stopped and held by the Wigan keeper.  Mertesacker headed over after another corner to Arsenal.  Arsenal pressing for the winning goal and Wigan trying to hold on to the result.  Wigan got what they wanted. It stayed 1-1 after 90 minutes.

Extra time it was. And Wigan tried to get to reach the penalty shoot out. The most memorable thing in the extra time was the shot from Oxlade-Chamberlain that deserved to be the winning goal. The Wigan keeper well beaten but his shot bounced off the crossbar and came back in the field.   Kallstrom came on for the amazing Ramsey in the last 10 minutes. Wenger thinking of the penalties? That was the moment that some might have feared that the penalty shoot out will result in the luckiest team going further.

After some 120 minutes of Arsenal trying to win the match and Wigan trying not to lose it the final result was 1-1. Penalties would decide the outcome. I was a bit lucky as the penalties were taken on my side of the stadium. So I had a good view of it.  I even managed to record the whole penalty shoot out with my camera. Lots of bouncing images I can tell you that.

Fabianski stopped the first Wigan penalty. Everyone delighted myself  included. But then I remembered a few penalty shoot outs I had seen in the last seasons with other clubs and the team that missed the first penalty always won it at the end. Arteta stepped up and scored. What else did you expect with him behind the ball? Still the nightmare scenario was on the cards as in the penalty shoot outs I had seen the same happened.

Fabianski held the second Wigan penalty. The Arsenal fans shouted their lungs out and Kallstrom stepped up to take the second. And he scored! I then suddenly knew it was us that would make the final.

Beausejour scoring his penalty for Wigan was not that important. Giroud stepped up. A part of the fans started his song but a lot couldn’t sing along as their throat was as dry as could be at that moment (probably helped by the lack of drinks at half time). And Giroud also scored his penalty. 3-1 to Arsenal with Tony losing his maths.  [Yes, well they didn’t do “penalty shoot out arithmetic when I was at school – it was all calculus and trigonometry – tony]

The 4th Wigan players stepped up and the Arsenal fans booed him in an attempt to make him nervous. But he kept his calm and sent Fabianski the wrong way.

On stepped little Santi Cazorla. Tony probably didn’t realise it at the moment but if he would score it was Arsenal in the final.  {Yes I did I had got Advanced Algebra going on my ipad so I knew]  The most amazing thing was to think about with which foot he would take his penalty. Santi decided to use his right foot. And as cool as a Spaniard can be he converted the penalty.

The whole Arsenal end of Wembley erupted in delight. Arsenal winning the semi final was the only rightful outcome of this match.

The team that had tried to win it during the 120 minutes won it at the end. Justice was done. Arsenal will be back at Wembley on May 17th.

19 comments to Wigan – Arsenal a view from the stands

  • Nick The Gooner

    Yesterday I had a really sore head, my voice is still not back
    I sang my heart out, I nearly cried when we went one nil down (at that stage it didn’t look as if we had a way back) – oh by the way I’m 53
    But I like the players never give up – I’m Arsenal I’m proud of it and I’ll never behave like them others
    A win is a win in the cup 10-0, 1-0 or penalties if your through your through
    Sure I was annoyed that we didn’t play our best – but take a look at the stats – 1 Wigan on target attempt in 120 minute, 4 booking, AFC 57% possession!!!!
    I celebrated wildly (but well behaved), well into the early hours at Wembley – curry houses are great there)
    Now that’s just what I plan to do (ticket permitting) 17th May.
    AND my beloved Arsenal I will support you ever more – nor will I forget what Arsene has done for us

  • bjtgooner

    Tony/Walter

    Good write up. Still having difficulty accessing the site/posting etc. Will try to post some more comments on this thread later when the site settles down.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Nice report ,Walter . Please try to make it to the finals too !
    @ Nick The Gooner – sweet ! As a 57 year old , I suppose that I should be calm and collected ,but watching the game at home at 2 am in the morning ,I was tempted to scream ,but the thought of awakening the sleeping wife made me think the better of it !

  • jambug

    Tony/Walter.

    So glad you had a great day.

    Nick The Gooner

    Lovely piece.

    As a 54 year old, loyal, emotional fan like yourself, I too was close to tears when we went behind. But we did it in the end.

    When that Santi Penalty hit the back of the net the Wife and I jumped up screaming and fell into each others arms with tears running down our faces watching the lads revel in there moment.

    You see, like you, we love Arsenal. We feel the pain with them when it all goes wrong. But when it goes right. Oh the joy, the sheer unadulterated joy……and that was only the semi !!!!

    COYG

  • Gord

    Well, that is 3 writeups I’ve read, and all 3 are different games. Sports Mole commentary and your writeup above are reasonably close. As I described reading all of the BBC commentary on another thread, the BBC commentary is at best completely opposite of what you seen Walter.

    Thanks for your report Walter.

  • bjtgooner

    This write up is very close to my understanding of the game and I have watched most of it twice.

    My impression of the Monreal injury was that it resulted from a deliberate foul – the Wigan player did not get the ball. I have no argument with the Mert penalty incident, but it looked like a foul on Monreal in the build up – I was hoping Walter would comment on that incident.

    A lot of disappointed punters (including media and corrosive AAA) have tried to express their disappointment by condemning our play. But, apart from a few very short periods we controlled the game and as Walter pointed out, took care not to leave the door open to a counter attack – which would have been fatal.

    Lets give credit to our players who concentrated well for 120mins and to the penalty takers, not forgetting Fabianski!

    Does anyone know who our 5th penalty taker would have been?

  • Mick

    @bjtgooner
    Re the 5th penalty taker, I think I saw Steve Bould putting a pair of boots on in the background!

  • WalterBroeckx

    bjtgooner,
    I have asked myself that question also.
    Only one man knows, as usual: Wenger 😉

  • Pat

    What a penalty shoot out! Fabianski and all the penalty takers were so determined. You could see it from the look on their faces as they stepped up, in the close ups on the TV highlights programme.

    That was such a tough match and we came out on top. We deserved it all right.

    Looks like a lot of us won’t get a chance to go to the final because of the measly ticket allocation. I feel so lucky to have been at the semi-final. Being in that sea of Arsenal supporters at Wembley was brilliant. In spite of the senseless booing when Podolski was substituted, and some moaning from some. Giroud and Kallstrom, two of the subs, were two of our penalty scorers. Arsene Wenger proved right again.

    They showed a close up of the incident on Monreal on the highlights programme. It certainly looked like a foul.

  • AL

    Thanks for offering a view to how/why the team played the way they did. They have been caught out on a few occasions when we took the game to the opposition and many blasted them for taking that ‘kamikaze’ approach. Funny the same people are now blasting the team for not pouring forward against a team set to hit on a counter. Yet they were denying there can be a thing called a hindsight manager only a few days ago.

  • Menace

    I am 64 and can’t wait for the senior discount on my season ticket. After the match all I could say was that now my tears will joyous not sad.

  • Micheal Ram

    Come on guys. The final is end of the season. Now everybody, lets support and push this team to the 4th place. Go on, gunners!

  • Gord

    Middle of your sleep news.

    Apparently the Daily Telegraph is reporting that ManCity may run afoul of FFP. PSG may also run afoul of FFP. 76 teams are being investigated.

    > City and PSG are understood to be among fewer than 20 teams under threat of a sanction …

    Arsenal, ManU and Chelsea are apparently not considered to be abusing FFP.

    I seen 3 predictions for lineup. Universal is:
    Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Kolscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Kallstrom and Giroud. The remaining 3 positions are 3 of: Podolski, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rosicky.

    COYG!

  • magichut

    Yes, wigan 10 men behind the ball……this is probably how the final will go…little teams afraid to play football against the Arsenal

    At least 1 team will not play anti football in the final

    Good luck The Arsenal

  • Rupert Cook

    @magichut, it’s called tactics mate. Wigan are an inferior side and played accordingly. In fact it was a bit like how we approached the Dortmund game and we won. Fortunately Wigan didn’t.

    @Al, I don’t think anyone denied there was such a thing as a hindsight manager. Arsenal played with plenty of attacking purpose in the first ten minutes then became a little cautious as many teams do in a semi final. Both teams were nervous of losing which is why we played well within ourselves yet we showed we could respond when we went 1-0 down. Change of tactics and we looked much more effective and Wigan offered virtually nothing in response. A reactive approach worked, sometimes we just need to adopt a proactive one.

    And Al a team scored a penalty and then we equalized so it proves that teams can score after their opponents are given penalties. Who’d have thought it?

  • para

    Well done Arsenal, you made it hard, but considering everything, job done.
    Now we have to win all of our next matches, no other option. Not considering being out of CL.
    Just want to see some real performances, what ever the outcome. All the team should be at 150%
    for what is at stake now.
    In time to come, this season must be remembered as the season when Arsenal started to win trophies again and to return to the top where we belong.
    Come on Arsenal.

  • Jax

    Magichut
    Arsenal played anti-football at our last two Wembley finals. In fact against Man U. we set out for penalties from the start and completely stank the stadium out. I’m sure we won’t be that bad this time, but am concerned that we’ll freeze in the way we have in some of the big games this season.

  • jambug

    I don’t really have an issue with this so called anti football, especially when adopted by teams that are obviously inferior man for man. As has been said, when needs must we have done it ourselves, not least when we last won the FA Cup.

    It’s up to us, or whoever, to find a way through. As was shown when City failed, and as the weekend showed, it is not always easy to break down. Be patient, plug away and hope.

    As we have often found out to our cost, Kamikaze is not always the way. Even with the attacking prowess of City, who can often as not play a ‘you score one we’ll score two’ type game, you can come unstuck against these ‘park the bus’ tactics.

    Either way, no matter how much the media try to discredit our performance we did enough and that is all that matters and we certainly wasn’t lucky no matter how hard they try to say we where.

  • Jax

    Did you all spot my deliberate error there? 2005 final at Millennium Stadium, NOT Wembley