ARSENAL got through to the FA Cup final thanks to an Alexis Sanchez extra-time winner over Manchester City at Wembley.
Sergio Aguero gave the Manchester outfit the lead, running onto Yaya Toure’s through ball on the counter-attack to chip expertly beyond Petr Cech.
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But Arsenal’s equaliser came from an unlikely source, left-back Nacho Monreal, who volleyed home at the back post from Alex-Oxlade-Chamberlain’s whipped cross.
And Sanchez gave the Gunners the lead in extra-time which was ultimately the winner, firing home from close range after City failed to clear their lines.
It means Pep Guardiola will have a trophy-less season, a rarity for him – while Arsene Wenger may live to fight another day as his love affair with the FA Cup continued.
Here are five things we learnt from the tight semi-final at Wembley…
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has shone recently in the right wing-back position
The Ox has finally found a home in Arsenal’s three-at-the-back formation
Perhaps the one saving grace to come from an uncomfortable three-at-the-back experiment tried out by Arsene Wenger, despite the win – Alex Oxlande-Chamberlain seems to have found a place that suits him.
His talent is unquestioned, but the 23-year-old has never quite convinced anyone that he excels in one position – be it attacking midfielder or a winger.
But as a right-wing back, he has been given free reign to roam down the wing and provide some stunning crosses like the one for Nacho Monreal’s equaliser.
His defensive capabilities are not too shabby either, and was man-of-the-match in the Middlesbrough win last week. Maybe if Arsenal continue with this, we will really see the England man shine.
City have injury problems at the wrong time
David Silva hobbled off after just 23 minutes at Wembley and had to be replaced by Raheem Sterling – and while the England man is a more than able replacement, City missed Silva’s creativity that no-one can really replace.
It has sparked fears that the Spain international will miss the midweek Manchester City and the run-in as City bid for a top four spot.
And Sergio Aguero worried every City fan by limping off himself in extra-time looking in some discomfort.
Indeed, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic out for the season for United, Arsenal missing a number of players and Liverpool currently leading the injury table in the whole league, the sides battling for those coveted Champions League places are all finding their squad depths truly tested as the season comes to an end.
Another big game passes Mesut Ozil by
Yes he has increible ability on the ball, and can regularly do it against the smaller teams on normal occasions.
But for another big game, regardless that they won, the German playmaker went missing – be it chances in front of goal, being completely unable to use his right foot, and tracking back as slow as could be.
Contrast this to Alexis Sanchez, the other leading light, who popped up with Arsenal’s winner and generally was at the centre of everything.
Ozil just didn’t seem bothered all afternoon – and while his body language is more ambiguous than Alexis, he just did not seem that bothered today.
Sanchez must be kept if Arsenal have any hope of progression
The Chilean’s 24th goal of the season was the decisive one, and despite rumours of moving on due to lack of success at the Emirates, they must fight tooth and nail to keep him.
Regardless of who is boss next season, Arsenal’s lack of title challenge each year in recent times has to be rectified – and they can only do that with the best players in the business – and Alexis is just that.
It would be a clear lack of ambition to surrender the star at a cost price to a title rival, be it today’s opponents City or Chelsea.
The Gunners are a rich club, and money should be no object in trying to keep their man – and if similar world-class talents can be brought in to incentivise him, all efforts must be made.
Mbappe on a world record fee? City have the best man already at the club
Manchester City are reportedly prepared to smash the world record transfer fee to land Monaco teen sensation Kylian Mbappe this summer.
Mbappe maye be the most sought after player in world football, but in Sergio Aguero, they have the best in the business already on the books.
The Argentine may be injury-prone, but he has still scored 30 goals this season, with five in five FA Cup games this season.
He was sidelined for Gabriel Jesus when the young Brazilian was signed and then injured, and it looks like he may be again.
That would quite frankly be an unwise move from Pep Guardiola, desperate to overhaul his squad – there are other older players to get rid of, but Aguero must be kept at all costs.