Who would have thought Per Mertesacker (AKA Sackboy) would have saved Arsene Wenger’s job by helping Arsenal to their record 13th FA Cup triumph? Not me, that’s for sure, as no disrespect to the German, but his FA Cup start this season was his first since being out injured. However, the BFG was as immense as the name suggests and managed to almost single-handedly kept Chelsea, especially Diego Costa, at bay.
Of course, double-handedly, Alexis Sanchez set the ball rolling prodding the ball in with Aaron Ramsey still lingering in an offside position. Although, the goal should not have stood as it hit Sanchez’s arm, Chelsea defence were guilty of not playing to the whistle and they paid the ultimate price.
Indeed, Arsenal should have doubled their lead when Ramsey hit the post in the first half and it seemed that by not taking chances when on top they had allowed Chelsea back in, when Costa equalised with a shot that deflected off Mertesacker of all people. Ospina, who aside from dropping the ball earlier, had done little wrong until then. The South American’s attempt to push the shot wide was quite feeble, so consequently Chelsea were level. As well reawakening the debate about who should have played in goal, this brought back old memories of Arsenal taking the lead and then capitulating in finals against the Blues, like when Walcott scored against them and Arsenal ending up losing because of a defensive mix-up between Koscielny and Szczesny. This time, Mesut Ozil was guilty of being dispossessed by David Louis in his own half and this led to the equaliser.
An Arsenal goal literally seconds after allayed fears. Substitute Olivier Giroud crossed into what looked an empty 18-yard box and Rambo appeared from nowhere to power a header home.
Just to make matters worse for Chelsea, Moses was sent off for a second bookable offence, after diving in the box. Oxlade-Chamberlain looked so relieved understandable as he had not touched the Blues right winger.
There were a few more scares but Arsenal marched onto victory. You’d have to expect Stan Kroenke (who was in attendance in a ‘manky’ suit, according to Arsenal legend Ian Wright) to do anything to renew Arsene Wenger’s contract now. After all, major trophies is the definition of success and the FA Cup still qualifies as that.
I’ve never been a Wenger fan or apologist but it will be hard to say goodbye after that performance. If only Arsenal could have played like for the whole season, then they would have surely finished above 5th in the league table. As Wenger said, he will need to make ‘two good buys’ to turn Arsenal into realistic title challengers. The worst part about this season is it should have been Arsenal going for the ‘double’, not Chelsea. Whatever went wrong in December proved to be extremely costly.
We now await the decision about Wenger’s future and I predict he will be staying. Now that the FA Cup has been won by him for a record seventh time, he can dictate the terms and the board cannot afford to argue with them.