I had taken my son to football training in the morning and had to rush back to get myself ready for the trek across London, to my friend Samuel's place. A number of us Gooners were all meeting up for this one as nobody was fortunate enough to have a ticket. Before the game we were talking about how nice it would be for once if we just scored early and comfortably dispatched of our opponents without much fuss. But this just doesn't happen to us in big games like this one.
Instead we had forgotten how to defend balls into the box and Hull City scored after their first chance of the game. Chester flicking in Huddlestone's bouncing shot from inside the penalty area. I felt ok about it though, at least it has come early I offered out to my glum faced pals, well that was until one time Arsenal target Curtis Davies decided he would crush my spirits by firing in past Fabianski from close range to make it 2-0 to Hull.
I got to say, I feared the worst at that point. Luckily one of my mates was very rational and calm stating the fact that it was so early and we were still only playing Hull City. Not sure I believed him at the time though, well until Santi Cazorla decided now was as good a time to score directly from a set piece for the first time in an Arsenal shirt. Good timing Santi, we needed that.
Apparently Arsène Wenger told his squad before hand that the Hull City keeper was weaker on his left side and that is the spot in which Cazorla aimed for and scored. There I was thinking that the manager did not prepare for opposition weaknesses. 1-2
It must have been a strange situation for Hull City. Before Cazorla's world class free kick they had come very close to wedging a three goal margin between the two clubs but for the obligatory end of season intervention from Kieran Gibbs. So Hull did not know whether to stick or twist while Arsenal had no choice but to keep attacking. Our attacks always seemed pretty measured, there was no sense of panic, the players probably having Arsène's voice preaching patience in their minds.
Patience wasn't helping my churning stomach and the minutes continued to keep ticking away. Penalty after penalty decision was being waved away by the referee. I struggle to believe that he thought every one of those incidents were non penalties and maybe after a victory is the best time to highlight them because we won the game but I honestly cannot be bothered. Basically the ref was poo.
Arsène Wenger wasn't messing around though on the hour mark Arsène hooked the ineffective Lukas Podolski for Yaya Sanogo. Arsène rewound the clocks and went with two central strikers and credit to Sanogo, he instantly makes an impact on the game. So far he couldn't be accused of hiding. Whether he misplaces a pass or twists past a defender he puts himself in that position to get on the ball.
Going back to poor officiating, the referee and his assistant made the incorrect call on Sanogo's near post flick, assuming that the defender got the final touch. In fairness to the officials, this call was far more difficult to get correct but I guess you cannot give what you haven't seen. Arsenal delightfully capitalised from the corner. Giroud, Sagna and a couple of Hull City players contested the flighted ball while Koscielny went into secret stealth mode, tip-toeing his way into the six yard box like he had done a few weeks back against Newcastle United at home. He turned and flicked in from close range, barely getting a touch but just enough to fox the keeper and get it over the line. 2-2.
In the past we used to bring on all the strikers to make the breakthrough now we bring on all the number 10s. Rosicky and Wilshere replaced Özil and Cazorla. Controversial decisions with penalties looming in the distance. More chances were spurned. Sanogo dragging wide, Ramsey slicing wide and blazing over. Gibbs oh Gibbs?! Smashing over with the goal at his mercy with minutes remaining of normal time. Had that gone in then we wouldn't have lost on penalties and the world would be a different place today.
Ahh that was another path that might have been so swish that around in your mouth before you spit it out. It could make our victory even more rewarding.
In reality we have a fella called Aaron Ramsey but let us talk up the part that Oliver Giroud had to play in it. If it was Luis Suarez we'd all hear about the wonderful inventiveness and vision. Giroud running away from goal spotted Ramsey's dart across him and back healed perfectly into his path before swiping a shot inside of the post for the winning goal.
Hull proceeded to loft long balls into our box but we dealt with all of those. The only issue we had was when Lukasz Fabianki decided it would be a good idea to audition for the potential availability of the right back position. Luckily the returning shot was wide rather than on target.
Then the full time whistle was blown and the elation on the players faces was a thing of beauty. Gibbs lay on the pitch with tears in his eyes, Sagna slumped to his knees praying while Arsène looked like an excited kid at Christmas.
We've waited a long time for this one and I hope the players enjoy it and we even get a change of heart from some, I wouldn't hold my breath but you never know. We may not have been at our free flowing attacking best but it was dramatic and we showed excellent character to fight our way back until the very end. I could go on to talk about kicking on and adding to the squad but that is for another day. There shall be a few more days of basking I can tell you.
Arsenal FA Cup Winners 2014