Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for Arsenal, wallop, Wigan Athletic hit them with a hammer blow… but the Gunners responded valiantly to reach their first FA Cup final since 2005 in dramatic fashion.
Arsene Wenger’s quest for a first trophy in nine seasons is still on course, as the North London club reached a record 18th final of the world’s oldest knockout competition.
Arsenal eventually beat Championship side Wigan 4-2 on penalties, with reserve ‘keeper Lukas Fabianski saving two penalties to set the Gunners on their way, after a tense 1-1 draw in a gripping FA Cup semifinal at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
The shock 2012-13 FA Cup winners took the lead against Arsenal, as Callum McManaman was brought down by Per Mertesacker in the box and after a lengthy delay Jordi Gomez slotted home the penalty to put Wigan 1-0 up with less than 30 minutes to go.
Arsenal huffed and puffed, as late pressure started to build in regular time. Yaya Sanogo had a header against the post that was hacked away and moments later Kieran Gibbs saw his header wonderfully stopped by Scott Carson, then Stephen Crainey hacked it off the line. That pressure eventually told with 10 minutes of regulation remaining, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scuffed a shot into the ground that Mertesacker followed up to equalize and send the game into extra time.
In the extra 30 minutes the teams couldn’t be separated, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sent a rasping effort off the woodwork, so the dreaded penalty shootout took place to see who would be going back to Wembley on May 17 in the FA Cup final.
Fabianksi saved Wigan’s first two penalties from Gary Caldwell and Jack Collison, as Arsenal scored all four PKs to hold their nerve and make the showpiece final next month.