FA Cup Results: Arsenal Storm Into Semifinals With Clinical Victory over Everton
By Deepak Vikraman | March 9, 2014 1:50 AM EST
Whisper it, get a little excited -- Arsenal might just be on their way to breaking that nine-year trophy drought.
Some brilliant finishing, a few outstanding passes, and all of that verve in full show, Arsenal got the better of Everton in the FA Cup quarterfinal 4-1 to book their place at Wembley.
For nearly 70 minutes it was close, as Everton kept it tight and did not allow Arsenal to break free. But some quick feet from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and a penalty decision, the right one, changed the course of the game, with the Gunners finding their oomph with great effect soon after to end Everton's hopes of winning an FA Cup, while also breaking Roberto Martinez's personal grip on the famous Cup - indeed all the Roberto's with the last three titles going to managers with the first name of Roberto.
Mesut I-can-play-you-know-and-here-is-proof Ozil opened the scoring for Arsenal with a brilliant finish, only for Romelu Lukaku to level the match just past the half hour. With the match finely balanced, Arsenal's Ox in the Box induced a mistake from Gareth what-was-I-thinking Barry, with Mikel Arteta slotting home from the penalty spot -- twice -- to make it 2-1.
From there, Arsenal with confidence flowing through, just stepped up a gear, with Olivier Giroud grabbing a quickfire brace - his second a peach of a team goal - as Arsenal bounced back admirably from a disappointing defeat to Stoke last weekend.
Everton controlled the entire first half of their English Premier League fixture at the Emirates in December, and for the first five minutes it looked like deja vu as the away side kept possession really well and raising the heartbeats of the home fans on a couple of occasions.
But, with Arsenal's quality, all it takes is one moment, and when you couple that with a slight mistake, then it will be deadly. Santi Cazorla took advantage of a slip from James McCarthy just past the halfway line, with the Arsenal midfielder running through and slipping a nice left-footed pass to Mesut Ozil, who, despite the pass being a tad underweight, stroked it home with his own left foot beautifully into the bottom corner - the German's first goal since scoring the opener against the Toffees exactly three months back.
It was 1-0 to the Arsenal, forcing Everton to find at least one goal in the next 83 minutes to stay alive in the FA Cup. The Gunners looked to bulge their lead further, firing a couple of warning shots, with Joel Robles having to prevent Yaya Sanogo, preferred up front with Olivier Giroud, no doubt, needed for the Bayern Munich clash, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from getting on the scoresheet.
It took a while for Everton to wipe out the opening goal cobwebs, but once they hit their stride and found that Martinez-style possession, they did look capable of getting the equaliser, even if Lukasz Fabianski was rarely troubled.
The goal came via some brilliance from Ross Barkley, who decided to take matters into his own hands, running at Arsenal from his own half, with Mathieu Flamini, on a yellow card, unable to challenge the Everton midfielder, allowing the Everton man to go down the right, and whip in a perfect cross to Kevin Mirallas at the far post. The Belgian made a complete hash of a simple chance, with the ball hitting his heel; but lady luck was riding Everton's wave and the ball fell perfectly for Romelu Lukaku, who had the simplest of tap-ins to make it 1-1 on 32 minutes.
Neither side could find the second goal to take the lead, as the players went into halftime with plenty to ponder. The second half was a slow burner, with neither side looking overly threatening when on the ball, while counter-attacks looked like the best option to break the deadlock.
A mistake was also another avenue towards a semifinal place, and Thomas Vermaelen, who otherwise had a really solid game, looking good in possession and making those runs into midfield with the ball, nearly gifted Everton a goal, completely mishitting a clearance and allowing Lukaku to run into the Arsenal penalty area. The striker picked out Barkley perfectly, but the playmaker, leaning back, missed a wonderful chance from 12 yards out, firing his shot high.
Soon enough, it was Arsenal that jumped back into the lead, and it was that man Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain again, making a menace of himself inside the Everton box and forcing a mistake from the experienced Gareth Barry, who stuck out an unnecessary leg, leaving referee Mark Clattenburg with little choice but to point to the spot.
Mikel Arteta, who was desperate for a win over his former side, stepped up and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner, sending Robles the wrong way; but the Arsenal vice-captain was forced to take it a second time, after Clattenburg ordered a retake with Giroud jumping out into the penalty area too soon.
There was to be no worries for the home side, though, as Arteta caressed the ball into the top corner to give Arsenal the lead on 68 minutes.
With Everton chasing the game, Arsenal were always going to be dangerous on the counter, and Giroud, in as a substitute for Sanogo, made the game safe, turning in a perfect low cross from Bacary Sagna from six yards on 83 minutes.
The icing on the cake was as sweet as it gets for Arsenal, a move from another galaxy as Cazorla played a ball in from the halfway line to substitute Tomas Rosicky, who played in Ozil with a perfectly weighted ball, with the Arsenal No.11 then picking out a wonderful first-time pass for Giroud to sweep home and with it sealing their place in the FA Cup semifinals in some style.
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