As usual, Arsenal were expected to dominate a game against (easy?) opposition, but yet again the fans were made to suffer for over 100 minutes before Alexis Sanchez scored a very lucky winner against the hapless Reading keeper.
Arsene Wenger felt that the Gunners were dominant, but he expected the Royals to make us fight for everything. Le Prof said after the game: “It was a difficult game against a very resilient, well-organised, physically very strong side. They were a committed Reading team who were comparable to what we faced last year against Wigan Athletic. We have improved a bit because we needed the penalties last year but it meant we got through.
“We had a lot of possession – I think we had 23 shots on goal and 72 per cent possession – but it was still difficult to find space because they defended very well. I was surprised how strong they were in the challenges. In the second half they became even stronger in the challenges and we suffered a little bit then, and lost some balls that we’re not used to losing.
“In the end we were a bit lucky because their goalkeeper made the mistake and I can understand that. He kept them in the game as well for long periods.”
After Sanchez scored the opener early on, we could have been forgiven for thinking that we were going to go and win in style, but Arsenal let our opponents back into the game. “I don’t think we switched off,” Wenger continued. “but I felt that we didn’t come out after half-time with the same intensity that we had in the first half. In the first half we controlled the game well and you felt the goal would come. In the second half we suddenly started to suffer. We paid for that.”
“What was missing was a bit of speed in the combinations in the final third and maybe sharpness. The spirit and the concentration was there. We lacked a bit of sharpness to create more clear-cut chances maybe.”
It is a fact that Arsenal did not seem to be as sharp as usual, and we will have to play a lot better in the Final, and hope we can get a record-breaking win. Wenger is not taking anything for granted: “The records show that we are consistent and that is most difficult.” he said. “I believe that we now need to focus on our next game. We come back here in the final, we have time to prepare and overall the final is a 50/50. If we can beat that record we will be very happy. The final is 50/50 so let’s hope we have all our players available to come back in a good shape.”
It may not have been pretty, but at least Arsenal got over our potential banana skin to get to the Final again. And we now have another great day to look forward to…..