ARSENAL INTO FINAL AFTER PENALTY SHOOTOUT

   1                   {2 – 4 penalties}               1

Is the drought of trophy success that has plagued Arsene Wenger and his team since 2005 about to be sated?  This likelihood became a distinct possibility after a tense encounter at Wembley yesterday when Arsenal had to raise their recent lack lustre form to overcome their championship opponents.

Resilient Wigan proved why they were creditable contenders in the FA Cup semi final when they forced yet another premiership team to battle for all of 120 minutes before succumbing to a succession of excellent taken penalties by the Gunners assisted by their outstanding second choice keeper.

It was an anxious, and for the most part, uneventful first half for both teams with Arsenal having the best of a limited number of chances.  The best chance of the half fell to Yaya Sanogo after 5 minutes with a header from close range to force a great reflex save from Scott Carson in the Wigan goal.

The face of Latics manager Uwe Rosler was its impassive self as he entered the tunnel at half time but inwardly he must have been very pleased with his team’s first half performance.  The strain on Arsene Wenger’s face on the hand was palpable.

The game took a dramatic turn in the 58th minute when Mertesacker brought down McManaman in the box and Gomez converted from the spot.  Arsenal, as if suddenly woken from a slumber launched waves of attacks and were rewarded in the 82nd minute when Mertesacker deftly headed in from close range.

The game finished level forcing extra time.

The highlight of extra time was a thunderous shot against the angle of the Wigan post by Oxlade Chamberlain.  The game ended all square and Wigan were first to step up to the penalty spot.

Wigan substitute Caldwell’s effort was brilliantly saved by Fabianski.

Arteta shoots and makes no mistake – 1 – 0 Arsenal.

Collison shoots but again Fabianski dives to his left to save.

Arsenal substitute Kallstrom sends Carson the wrong way – 2 – 0 Arsenal.

Beausejour finally scores for Wigan – 2 – 1 Arsenal.

Giroud shoots right – Carson goes left – 3 – 1 Arsenal.

McArthur keeps Wigan’s hopes alive – 3 – 2 Arsenal.

Cazorla puts Arsenal into the FA Cup final – 4 – 2 Arsenal.

Arsenal are now one game away from finally winning some silverware for their trophy cabinet that has maintained its status quo for nine years and which, consequently, has had no additions since Arsenal moved to the Emirates Stadium in 2006.  Success on the 17th May next against Hull or Sheffield United could however force the custodian of the Arsenal trophy cabinet to finally open it.

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