Arsenal secured their place at Wembley at the end of May and earned the right to defend their FA Cup crown, with a 2-1 victory over Reading. However, it took extra-time for the Gunners to overcome the side 18th in the Championship- which taught Arsenal some vital lessons.
The Gunners have until May 30th to prepare for the final, against Aston Villa, but if they make the main mistakes they did this weekend then they could wave goodbye to their honour- missing out on the chance to retain their FA Cup.
Here’s three key things we learnt this weekend- and hopefully Arsene Wenger saw similar lessons.
First-Team Is Essential
Arsene Wenger surprised many this weekend by making wholesale changes- most notably putting Mathieu Debuchy back in the starting line-up for the first time in four months and giving Kieran Gibbs his first start in a month on the opposite flank.
The two full-backs struggled, with Gibbs being the main culprit, and Reading managed to get many opportunities. A more clinical side could have caused real problems and ultimately could have knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup. In fact, Arsenal were lucky.
A similar question has to be asked about Wojciech Szczesny. It’s Arsene Wenger’s policy to play his second-choice keeper but another error raises concerns. Is it worth throwing away the FA Cup just to give our second-string stopper a chance?
Lastly, in plain words, Olivier Giroud must start. He’s been in fine form and changed the game this weekend. He’s no use on the bench.