The FA Cup Kings Do It Again, Playing Football the Arsene Way

They left the best till last. That was some performance by our boys yesterday. They wanted it badly and bossed Chelsea for large parts of the game. And it was a message to the fans too; Wenger was able to get this team to play as a strong, determined unit and rise above themselves. Everybody gave their all for their manager and the fans. Many said before the game we were the underdogs but they underestimated how much the team had turned a page in recent weeks. You don’t win at the Saints and the hell-hole of the Orcs without having some steel, character and quality.

There was pride and passion and joy on the pitch, and we played football the Arsenal way. The world watched and rejoiced, and even the staunchest critics of Wenger will have to admit that this was some performance by him and the team. Winning the Forever Arsene’s Cup by beating the Oligarch giants of MC and Chelsea in the semi-final and final, out-thinking two of the best managers in the game fair and square, is something to behold for Wenger. Record FA Cup winners that is what we are: the kings of the finest club competition in the world.

Key was of course the battle in midfield and Xhaka-Rambo were the masters on the pitch. One with the brain of a total controller and the other with the legs of a first soldier. But they would not have flourished so much without the graft and intelligence around them.

Behind them were three clever and hard working CBs: the reader, BFG, supported by his left and right footed bouncers, Nacho and Holding. They provided an almost impenetrable wall that turned the likes of Hazard, Pedro and Costa into obedient puppies.

On the sides they were supported by fast and ferocious wingbacks: Bellerin and the Ox. Both have plenty to improve on but boy did they put in a performance, and my almost 75 year old dad texted me to say Bellerin was MOTM… and he knows a thing or two about football.

In front of the Swiss-Welsh axis of dominance were three hard running, sharp passing and utterly uncontrollable attackers: the fabulous force of WAM: Welbeck, Alexis and Mesut. The movement of those attackers and flank players, combined with Rambo’s never stopping link-up play and running into the pockets, in which he was equal to Ozil and Alexis’ throughout the game, was just too much for the sorry Chavskies. With a bit more composure up-front we could have properly embarrassed our opponents, but I guess we still had a bit too much respect for them. Welbeck’s movement was excellent but his box anticipation and running, as well as his finishing, were below the required level. But he also put in a shift and that was of equal importance yesterday.

Our first goal was a bit fortuitous as it did look like Alexis handled the ball and many referees would have blown the whistle for it. He finished his chance calmly though, and that is of course the hardest thing to do in a final. Alexis is a man for the big occasion and he delivered once again. After the goal we did not sit back and kept pushing up, never allowing the Chavs to get into the game. That was pure class.

The formation of 3-4-3 suits us really well in these sort of games. We can push up and dominate an opponent of the Chavskies’ quality by having enough players back to deal with counter-attacks. The BFG, Xhaka and Ozil provide the calmness in the eye of the storm, whether we are attacking or defending, and around them we have eight battling soldiers to dominate proceedings.

The first half was ours because we pressed them high and never let them settle. The second half started less strong but after ten minutes we pressed high again and we were dominating once more. Then Moses tried to steel a penalty and was rightly punished for his ungodly act with a second yellow card. Surely the game was ours now? Well there was one moment of collective defensive weakness and they managed to get level with us, would you believe it. The taller Cech would have saved that one no doubt, but Ospina had had a fabulous game until then, so I am not  going to blame him.

Luckily Wenger brought on a pair of fresh legs and somebody who knows instinctively were to go in the box. Super Ollie put a fine ball into the box and my MOTM was there to finish off the Chavskies in style. 2-1 to the good guys. After that we had plenty of chances to add goals but it was not to be.

What was to be was a fine final – also for the neutral football lovers – with fabulous football and shiny silverware above the heads of very happy Gunners and a very proud manager.

Ooh to be..


12 thoughts on “The FA Cup Kings Do It Again, Playing Football the Arsene Way

  • As someone who has seen many Cup Arsenal cup finals, let me pass a pearl of wisdom on to my Bergkampesquers.

    Never, never, ever come up with the bright idea of hosting a cup final BBQ. Every time I sat down, somebody wanted a beer. So great food , great beer, great company, but did I watch the match in the company of Spurs, Chelsea , Charlton? Etc also supporters. We’ll sort of .

    So could I provide a decent analysis of the match, not really, but one thing did stick out and that was the BFG or the big friendly German as the commentater called him. Looked like everyone had great games, but the BFG… what a hero.

  • It is probably our best match this season. Citeh’s match is just a rung below.

    I have written in bits and pieces about what I felt about the game yesterday, and more or less summed up my thoughts on the team dynamics, and 200% (last night’s comment was 100%, but it is more than that) from everyone, including Ozil who rarely tackles, he made a few yesterday to stifle the Chelski wingers.

    From Ospina to Welbeck, and also the substitutes, Le Coq, Ollie and Elneny, everyone positioned themselves well on the pitch to counter the fast passing movements of Chelski. In the first half we caught them off-guard by playing our frantic footy, and although the goal (also mentioned by TA) was somewhat preceded by a handball from Alexis, the minute it was given I was feeling relieved.

    I mentioned about the good effects of a compact 3-4-3 formation last night, and to see 2 teams playing that formation on the pitch is exciting, yet heart in the mouth at times when Chelski attacked us the way we attacked them.

    As my friend, who was watching with me, mentioned that yesterday it was an open game, with both teams switching from defend to attack in a blinding moment, I agree with him in a way that both teams played with a desire.

    In the end, we scored a second goal to seal the win, and the SIlverware is ours for the 13th time, 7th time for Wenger, and 3rd FA Cup in the past 4 seasons running.

    Let it cool down, and I might write something about this season.

    What a way to end it.


  • Yesterday’s FA cup final was one of arsenal’s best games this season. Everyone was excellent, including the manager. I think Per had his best game in an arsenal shirt, he looked so sharp, his positioning was the best.
    Also for Xhaka, he was tremendous, he was one of the best players on the pitch, he controlled the game very well. He is learning the league very well, and he gets better and better with each game he plays. My take on him is that he will be a much better player next season.
    Another player that really impressed me is Rob Holding, his discovery is the Best thing that happened to arsenal this season, he is a highly talented defender, Arsenal’s next koscielny, his focus, his positioning, his reading of the game is top notch, He needs to toughen up a bit more thou. He still has a lot to learn, but he is certainly heading towards the right direction.
    I must commend David Ospina, whenever he is called upon to do a job, he always delivers. By the way, am I the only one this season who rates him higher than Peter Cech, YES I mean it.

    Going over to next season, I will like arsenal to make some signings that will make us title contenders. I will like arsenal to sign these players, a strike, my options are Lukaku, Dembele of Celtic or Morata of Real Madrid, any of them will do.
    A midfielder, I will like us to sign Bakayoko from Monaco. Number wise, we currently have more than enough, but quality wise, we are lacking. If we sign Bakayoko, we can sell elneny. Adding Bakayoko will be a tremendous improvement to arsenal’s midfield, he is a complete midfielder, he is very athletic, strong, skillful, knows how to hold possession for his team, he is a very good tackler and he reads the game very well.
    Wilshere should also be brought back to the team and extend his contract.
    A central defender, my number one choice is Van Dijk of Southampton.

    Arsenal is also in talks with Eupen’s Henry Onyekuru, my opinion is, He is a super talent and will be a great addition to the club. I also heard that arsenal have agreed to sign Sead Kolasinac on a free transfer, currently at schalke 04, he will also be a very good addition to the squad. Thou monreal remains to me one of the most important players in the team.

    Of course, arsenal have release some players like, Per, Gibbs, elneny, Lucas.

    With all these in place and also wit the right attitude from the players and coaches, there is no way arsenal will not challenge for the league strongly.

  • High definition post TA. All the details are there, beautiful.

    8 wins out of 9 is a stat that had earned my respect, but the defensive ‘crises’ really got me worried. Now seems that there couldn’t have been a worthier trio and a worthier eleven. We got a team in this squad. Kolasinac, top draw striker, a well rounded all purpose midfielder and it’s let the 17/18 season begin.

  • We have to sort out the manager situation first before getting any players in. That is a must and must be decided soonest.

    Maybe we should have a decision made Tuesday, and I am looking forward to it

  • TA, I’m really glad you put out this post… And, of course, it’s a good one. You catch the overall inspiration of the performance and its great outcome. As always, well done my friend…

    Watching the match in my relative isolation was a pleasure even if I had the weird experience of feeling an illness creep over me as it happened. Despite my usual trips to the espresso machine (and an extra one after the cup was hoisted) I could feel the beginning of a virus setting in. It’s no big deal (I’ll be fine in a couple of days…) but it laid me low enough that I didn’t do my usual in-match comments nor contribute afterwards. I’m a bit better rested now, but still under the weather–which is glorious here in the California mountains much as it appeared to be yesterday for the final.

    This version of Chelsea are very good, but on the day, we were better. Four and a half years ago in Granada, Spain, from behind a goal, I saw Atletico Madrid clinically dismantle Granada FC with a 1-nil performance that was crushingly strong. In goal that day was Thibault Cortois and you could see that he was world class. Big and tall, for sure, but also very precise about recognizing the moments when he needed to leave his line to smother chances. We might have scored a handful of goals yesterday but for him giving a typical (if unspectacular–none of his saves were particularly memorable…) performance. Our efforts to put the game away were summed up by the two fine Ozil efforts. Magical Mesut had to wait until the big keeper went all the way down to chip him allowing Cahill’s save off the line and he felt he had to be inch perfect with the late finish at the near post–and he erred by that same inch.

    That same night in Granada, in the 2nd half, when the ends were reversed, I got to see the menace of Diego Costa. He didn’t do much that night–he didn’t need to after Arda Turan got the goal for Atletico–but he was always ready to pounce. Yesterday, he did just that and made three great chances out of nothing, scoring the one, while also setting up much of the rest of Chelsea’s attack with fine back-to-goal work. Subbing him off was probably the right call, percentage wise, for Conte, but it also made me much more confident that we would see out the win.

    I think we benefited hugely from the neutral setting. Having to buy the extra ticket to Wembley meant that our support did not contain the usual grudging group of fans angered by the “failings” under Wenger. What a difference true support can make. It was enough for Anthony Taylor to be brave enough to give two critical calls in our direction. Without that early goal and the identification of the dive (and backing it with a sending off) Chelsea might have ground out a win. As it was, the dominating performance was allowed to flourish. The near misses, though hugely disappointing, were signs that we were on top to the crowd in the stadium; the more usual grumbles and the air of inevitability that they would undermine us, didn’t transmit to the players. Instead, it was (actual) support that they received. Imagine if that was the norm…

    With it, they took the collective desire forward. Like you say, TA, those were outstanding performances turned in at every position. Alexis balanced his inherent selfishness with a very strong eye for the pass (and fewer giveaways…) while Ozil danced his dance and even got a flying tackle in on Hazard, beyond the two chances which surely will still be haunting him today. Xhaka, in the space Chelsea gave him, now seems to know exactly what he’s going to do with the ball before it arrives at his outstanding feet. Ramsey’s more improvisational approach was as focused as I’ve ever seen it. Like you say, the wing-backs are still young and improving but have outstanding promise and look more decisive in those more straightforward positions. The makeshift back line stood tall and did us proud, the BFG commanding his flanks while Holding and Nacho worked well with Bellls and the Ox and never got turned around by Chelsea’s very good attackers. At the other end, Welbeck and Giroud, though probably hot good enough to lead the line for most (spoiled) Gooners–see calls above for “strikers,” as if they grow on trees–worked perfectly in tandem. The former softened up the Chelsea defense just enough for the latter to make that glorious first-touch assist that served as the killer blow.

    Maybe it’s because I’m sick today or maybe it’s because I’m sick of the (constant and endless) abuse I read and hear (from the press, pundits and their own “support”) directed at these players and their manager, but I’d like them ALL to make yesterday’s match their last one in Arsenal colors and just walk away. Maybe if we hire ourselves a sourpuss manager and finish 10th in the league (see Chelsea, 2015-16…) the plastic Arsenal supporters will get what they deserve while the real ones will (still) know (and still savor) what a special day it was. From your post (and all your posts, in fact), TA, I know you’re already there, and it makes me glad to be (or have been…) a part of your very special blog…


  • Cheers PE and Seventeenho 🙃😀

    I think we will have the rest of the summer to talk about new signings but for now let’s enjoy the cup victory, indeed.

  • And thank you for all the bespoke and fine match previews this season, Seventeenho. Hard to keep writing when the fan base can be so negative at times, but you stuck with it!

  • Well done Totaal and 17tino, a ray of sunshine in all the fog.

    I’m not looking forward to all the transfer garbage in the summer, all that nonsense has become unendingly tiresome…

    Tuesday and Wednesday will be interesting

  • After playing ‘winning football’ for 2 months?
    AFC played ‘inspired football’ to win the FA Cup.
    A trophy which experts– in near-unanimity– boasted Chelsea would hoist– during the week in run-up to the kickoff. The pundits wrote how Antonio Conte’s team had won the PL going away– besting the rest of the best by a good margin.

    The Blues didn’t underestimate a worthy opponent. The press did that for them.
    Chelsea ‘badly needed’ the double– to stratify their status as a ‘great club’ historically.

    Arsenal’s players needed it more.
    Proving to their fans– they can be winners.
    That their manager can position them to be winners.
    To allay much doubt, and make their doubters appear smaller still.

    AFC 2 – 1 CFC was no ‘happy accident’.
    It was impeccable timing, with improbable factors aligning,
    paired with opportunity– against a fine opponent;
    providing a most-deserved outcome.

    With months to enjoy it.


  • Thank you TA and 17ht. It had been a pleasure to meet fantastic guys like you here.

    Over a blink of an eye, it is now 3 seasons since I started commenting here.
    We had our ups and downs, marshalled well by TA and 17ht.

    I wish to spend many more seasons here with everyone and hope for next season to be better.


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