Before the game we were all wondering if it was Arshavin or Nasri starting. Wenger decided it would be neither.
Much has been said about that move, especially as we really had to have a proper go straight from the off to have a decent chance of winning, so leaving out two of our better creative players and opting for Denilson and Diaby was controversial to say the least. My only thought as to why is that Wenger saw the form Essien is in and decided to go for height and strength to subdue the threat from midfield. Either that or he decided to de-prioritise the FA Cup and focus all attention on 4th place and Europe, an unpopular decision to say the least if true!
However I never thought we’d see the day we’d come away from an FA Cup Semi Final wishing that Wenger had started Song instead of Diaby. Strange times!
The day itself was awesome, in Silverspoons club from 1:30, many many many beers consumed on a sunny afternoon, some quality tunes (Madness, Specials et al) and all the Gooners in great voice.
Thoughts on Wembley itself, it is an awesome stadium with regards to views. We were in the gods but the view wasn’t as bad as we’d initially feared, apart from the sun in our eyes (typical British, never happy!) The pitch cut up a hell of a lot too as you may have read elsewhere! After seeing previous Finals and Semi Finals there in recent years that's not much of a surprise as it’s been ripped apart on each occasion.
You’ll have all read about the game. It was pretty much a carbon copy of the 2007 Carling Cup Final. Started well, dominated possession, went one up through Theo, let them back into it and finished the first half second best, with a repeat of the same in the second half minus the Theo goal and with their goal 4 minutes from time. Neither team was at their best and played as if they were more afraid to lose than anything. Diaby had an especially poor game, leaving us longing for Song (I know, I can’t get my head around it either). On the plus side, Gibbs and Theo caused all kinds of problems down the wings, Walcott especially giving the Rent Boy a torrid time.
We all knew what our problem would be, Drogba vs. our makeshift defence, and the big Ivorian didn’t disappoint. As Fabianski did midweek vs Villarreal he provided a “sweeper” role to compensate for Silvestre’s lack of pace. Trouble was his decision making midweek was a hell of a lot better than Saturday! Gibbs saved his blushes early on but it was merely a matter of time, and as Drogba easily burnt off Silvestre after getting on the end of a Lumpard hoof (which has been built up into a masterful ball from god by the press since the game) you knew what was coming. Not one of the keeper’s better games. He should have done better with the first as well, especially with the shot beating him at his near post. News today is that Almunia could well be fit ahead of schedule, potentially even for Boro at home this weekend.
If we’d gone with either Arshavin or Nasri and just gone for a bit more pace and creativity down the wings I still think we’d have done them, just that Wenger decided that a fresh Diaby instead of Song and attempting to outwork and outmuscle them in the middle of the park would do the trick. Hindsight is a wonderful thing I guess! But they were there for the taking, aside from the goals they produced very little in terms of serious attacks, and that’s the most irritating bit!
Wenger has said he would like revenge in Rome, wouldn’t we all!
Anyway, no time to moap as it’s Liverpool away tomorrow night. RVP apparently has a strain so I’d expect him to be out and it was confirmed that Gerrard would be missing for the hosts, but more on that tomorrow.