Arsenal made it four successive wins at Wembley this weekend, as they edged a 2-1 victory over Reading to secure a place in this years FA Cup final.
Arsene Wenger assured the fans that this wasn’t going to be a straight forward tie, and Reading pushed the Gunners as far as the 104th minute, where Alexis notched the winner in extra time.
The Gunners lined up with 4 changes from the side that beat Burnely 1-0 the following week, with the most notable being the inclusion of Matthieu Debuchy.
Player Ratings provided by statistics from WhoScored.com
Wojech Szczesny – 6.7
His first inclusion since the quarter-final, but the Pole didn’t make things easy for himself. Could have done better to push out the shot from McCleary which was only decided by the use of goal-line technology.
Struggled to get into the game and didn’t look confident when dealing with pass-backs. Showed good intention to claim set-pieces but only by punching the ball away. Wenger now has a headache on his hands for who starts the final.
Matthieu Debuchy – 7.8
Making his first start since early January after a long-term shoulder injury, had good intentions to get forward but ultimately struggled in the final third. Looked tired towards the end of the game but that’s inevitable after being out for so long. At the moment he won’t be scaring Hector Bellerin too much.
Per Mertesacker – 6.9
He was the man we needed to deal with Pavel Pogrebnyak’s height, but what he brought to the game best was his sense of experience. Came back on to talk one-to-one to younger players in the 90th minute. Subbed off with suspected ankle problem in the 63rd minute.
Laurent Koscielny – 7.7
Was lucky to not be sent off in a few occasions, but ultimately Koscielny dealt well with the counter attacking threat that Reading posed. Kept Pogrebnyak at bay on multiple occasions where it looked as if Arsenal could be crashing out.
Kieran Gibbs – 7.7
Came back into action for Nacho Monreal, and looked consistent as always. Took a while to get in amongst it but Gibbs finished the game strong with a pass success rate of 87%. Finally some healthy competition for the left full-back position.
Francis Coquelin – 8.2
Yet another performance where Coquelin showed his worth. He played against Reading with Charlton earlier in the season so had a good idea of what to expect from a side that bulked up in the defence and then relied on a counter attack. Made five key tackles and multiple interceptions to frustrate the Royals.
Santi Cazorla – 7.8
It wasn’t easy for Santi in a game where Reading piled bodies in the box for the majority of Arsenals attacks. But he remained calm and composed through the whole 120 minutes.
Aaron Ramsey – 8
Made sure he created some drama, as Rambo hit the post late on in normal time to leave Gunners fans with their heads in their hands. Finding some form out on the right hand side now, and with a pass success rate of 85% is keeping Walcott from returning to the starting eleven.
Mesut Ozil – 9.1
Brilliant display from the German and his value really showed in this win. Added two more assists to his collection, and made the record number of passes in out of everyone on the pitch with 114. Also set a record for FA Cup games, creating 9 chances, more than any other player ever.
Alexis Sanchez – 9.3 (Man of the Match)
The Chilean is now on 22 goals for the season after his brace in this game, which ultimately sent the Gunners into the final. A justified match-winner, with stats showing four shots on target and an 83% success rate for take-ons down the left hand side.
Danny Welbeck – 6.8
Didn’t look like the Welbeck we saw in the quarter-final, and proved to many of us that he looks more like a winger than a centre forward. Much of the time he struggled to control the play, and ran the ball out for a goal-kick on a few occasions which frustrated the likes of Ozil and Cazorla. Not his best afternoon and subbed off for Giroud in the 72nd minute.
Olivier Giroud – 6.9
Finally provided the relief that Arsenal fans needed, as we have a striker who we know can score goals coming off the bench. Hit the post in extra time, but slowed the play down and added something different to Welbeck.
Theo Walcott – 6.1
Still looks like he’s lacking some confidence when going forward. Wenger would have wanted Walcott to get at some tired Reading legs but he ended up stopping the play and looking to pass backwards. Needs a good run of games behind him.
Gabriel – 7.4
Came on for the injured Mertesacker and proved he’s a viable candidate to fill the gap in the centre of defence. Came close to scoring with a header, but what is most notable is the positive relationship he has with Koscielny.