#EmiratesFACup: 5 things we observed
Was this Granit Xhaka’s finest performance in an Arsenal t-shirt? Quite possibly, and it will take some eclipsing. Xhaka was everywhere at Wembley, THE standout midfielder on the pitch and a big influence at both ends. He came to our rescue three times in a one-sided very first 15 minutes, racing across to make a covering deal with after City stole the ball from Mustafi inside our area and hooking clearances away from inside our six-yard box. However when the opportunity came Xhaka pressed City in their half, taking ownership to set up a chance that we need to have made more from when Aubameyang couldn’t discover Pepe. None of our outfield players made more passes than Xhaka’s 30, but here’s the standout stat: he completed 93% of those, including 88% of his passes in City’s half. In the heat of a cup semi-final versus a side that never ever let you choose the ball, that is genuinely good.
There was a charming moment in David Luiz’s post-match interview with BT Sport when the press reporter phrased his concern about our 3-0 defeat at City last month in generous terms. “Arsenal came under a great deal of criticism for their resisting City last month …” David Luiz, who owned his errors at the time, interjected: “A great deal of criticism of me, no? You can say that.” It stated a lot about a gamer who, as Mikel Arteta puts it, “has had some difficult minutes and some unbelievable moments”, but never ever hides when it gets difficult. If his errors at the Etihad last month can be submitted under “challenging moments”, David Luiz’s display at Wembley on Saturday goes down as “extraordinary”. The Brazilian’s redemption in numbers: 4 aerial duels, all won; a team-high 11 clearances; a team-high four interceptions. Oh, and he would have added a help had actually Aubameyang been as deadly with the opportunity that David Luiz established as he was with his other two.
Kieran Tierney’s appeal has actually been up and to the right since he emerged from lockdown, fit and firing and prepared to provide. The Scot’s humility and utter devotion to the cause has actually made him a huge hit with our fans, and his stock rose yet again on Saturday. Tierney’s positioning and anticipation was outstanding; he was consistently in the best location to head dangerous crosses away or step in to make an interception and after that – crucially – make an informing pass. That was particularly useful when City came on strong in the second half. Tierney’s biggest contribution to our tidy sheet was a fifth-minute dash throughout the box to reject Sterling after Ceballos had actually been dispossessed (and possibly fouled). And Tierney was a huge factor for the 2 on the scoreboard as well with a determine novice pass to send Aubameyang clear for our second goal.
Our last win against City prior to Saturday? The 2017 Emirates FA Cup semi-final, where Nacho Monreal scored an objective that mirrored Aubameyang’s very first this weekend – a definitive surface from a right-wing cross. Alexis got the winner three years ago but, because then, we ‘d lost seven straight to City, scoring simply 2 and conceding 20. When City swarmed all over us in the very first 15 minutes – piling up 92% belongings in that period – it looked threatening. But for all their territory and belongings, City summoned simply one shot on target in the 90 minutes, their fewest in a game for more than two years. City did have 16 shots in overall, but 5 of those were blocked – consisting of one each from the three gamers pointed out above. De Bruyne’s shift to the right helped make City more harmful in the 2nd half, however even their talisman could not break us down.
“Aubameyang doesn’t score in big games” got an airing ahead of this semi-final, and our captain responded to those accusations stunningly – prior to poking fun at his critics on Twitter. OK, he most likely should have scored before he did, shooting too near Ederson after David Luiz played him in. However it sums up Auba that, simply three minutes later, he converted a more hard chance. This was a great group relocation – 18 passes including 10 gamers – however it was capped by a supreme finish, a half-volley with the beyond the boot. Auba’s second was ended up off with a minimum of fuss, which was that. A lesson in ruthlessness from a man who now has 66 objectives for us in all competitors. Considering that Auba’s debut, just Mohamed Salah (68) has scored more among Premier League players. And just 3 other gamers have scored a brace for us at Wembley – Reg Lewis in the 1950 FA Cup final, Charlie Nicholas in the 1987 League Cup final and Alexis in the 2015 FA Cup semi-final.