Arsenal vs Manchester City: Recap, Highlights And Analysis

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 23: Nacho Monreal (L) of Arsenal celebrates scoring his sides first goal with his team mate Aaron Ramsey (R) during the Emirates FA Cup Semi-Final match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on April 23, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images,)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 23: Nacho Monreal (L) of Arsenal celebrates scoring his sides first goal with his team mate Aaron Ramsey (R) during the Emirates FA Cup Semi-Final match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on April 23, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images,) /

Arsenal took on Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday afternoon. Here is the full recap, all the highlights and analysis from the 2-1 win.

What a crucial win that was for Arsenal. With Arsene Wenger persisting with the three-at-the-back system that served his side competently, if not excellently, in the win over Middlesbrough on Monday night, the Gunners were still a little short of their very best. However, it was their passion and their desire that shone through. This was not the fluid Arsenal, playing beautiful, free-flowing football with sweeping attacking moves. This was a win built on guts. But the glory is all the more bright.

Related Story: Arsene Wenger's Best Starting XI

The game started in nervy fashion for Arsenal. Granit Xhaka was, as he has been all season, too slow and ponderous in possession, either getting caught on the ball or allowing City to drop into well organised, banks of four; Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez were anonymous, unable to offer any influence on the game; David Silva, who was forced off a little before the half hour with a hamstring issue, and Kevin De Bruyne found pockets of space in the midfield, looking to play in Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero on the half-turn.

Olivier Giroud did have a header that was tamely planted straight into the arms of Claudio Bravo after good work from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain down the right flank but it was City that dominated possession and boasted control of the game. What was especially concerning for Arsenal was the space that they left in midfield areas for their opponents, combined with their inability to keep hold of the ball and relieve the pressure when they were able to win possession.

More from Pain in the Arsenal

While there were no goals or major chances, there were three hugely controversial decisions. The first came when Sergio Aguero was clumsily clipped by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from behind, which should have resulted in a penalty. The second came when Leroy Sane’s cross was adjudged to have swerved beyond the goal line with a goal kick being given, just as Aguero and then Sterling converted the cross for a goal. The final one came at the other end as Alexis Sanchez, who had been extremely poor throughout the whole half, was pulled down by Jesus Navas from an inswinging free kick. The referee again said no penalty which was likely the third of the wrong decisions of the half.

By the end of the first 45 minutes, Arsenal were simply hanging on til the break and will be happy to haul their way to half time on level terms. Wenger has to make some changes if his side are to enjoy any semblance of success in the second half.

The game continued to remain open in the second half, with both sides engineering opportunities at either end. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain continued to be Arsenal’s most prominent threat, skipping past opponents seemingly at will and delivering a number of dangerous crosses. City continued to open up spaces in the middle of the park also but it was far improved from the Gunners after the break.

Just as they looked as though they were growing into the game, however, City found the breakthrough. Arsenal pushed forward from a corner, and as Aaron Ramsey was tackled by Yaya Toure, saw their defensive structures far too easily opened up. Toure played a clipped ball over the top of the defence for Sergio Aguero to chase. The Argentine burned Nacho Monreal, who showed his vulnerability to players with pace, before baiting Petr Cech with what looked like a heavy touch, and clipping over the onrushing keeper and into the gaping net. It was a crushing blow for a team that were beginning to grow into the game.

Arsenal, though, were undeterred and began pushing for the equaliser, an equaliser that they found through unusual avenues. Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was the best player on the park by some distance, took one touch to set himself and whipped a vicious, curling cross which Nacho Monreal, of all people, met with a thumping right-footed volley at the far post.

After the goal, though, Arsenal then retreated into their shell, allowing City to regain control over the game. Yaya Toure enjoyed a growing influence, striking a beautiful volley, contorting his body to do so, which Cech brilliantly flicked onto the post, redeeming himself for his earlier moment of hesitation, and Fernandinho crashed a header against the crossbar from a corner.

Danny Welbeck came on late in the game for Giroud to bring some pace into the Arsenal counter and did cause issues. He bundled past Nicolas Otamendi and, rather than wisely pull the ball across the box for either Alexis Sanchez or Aaron Ramsey, lashed a shot just a whisper past the far post from a tight angle.

Gabriel Paulista did have to make a number of last-ditch challenges, which he executed brilliantly, and Toure continued to drive forward with great intentions, before losing the ball at the final, crucial moment, but ultimately, it would be extra time that would decide this tie.

Welbeck, the man who was a constant thorn utilising his pace and his power in the final third, drew the foul from Vincent Kompany. Mesut Ozil clipped the resultant free kick across the box, Laurent Koscielny headed the ball back into the penalty area and after a bit of pinball, Alexis Sanchez was the first to react, smashing the ball past Bravo in emphatic fashion.

Welbeck then missed a simple header at the far post from Mesut Ozil’s inswinging cross, meaning Arsenal must endure the final fifteen minutes with just a slender, one goal lead, while Iheanacho suffered a heavy touch as play opened up for him and Fabian Delph had a shot blocked by a stretching Hector Bellerin.

Next: 30 Greatest Transfers In Past 30 Years

Ultimately, bar a couple of hairy moments, Arsenal were able to squeeze their way to victory. And what a crucial victory it was. They will now head back to Wembley to face Chelsea in the final, with Wenger hoping to lead the club to their third FA Cup victory in just four years, breaking the historical tie with Manchester United.