Arsenal came from behind to score a fantastic win over Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals
The back three worked its magic again. Arsene Wenger went with the formation that's in vogue at the moment for a second consecutive game and his Arsenal players responded with a performance of grit sprinkled with brilliance to end Manchester City's FA Cup run in the semifinals.
A packed Wembley was expecting an attack vs attack contest between two of the most enterprising sides in the English Premier League, but what they got was a performance from Arsenal that was full of organisation, perseverance and quality.
If Arsenal play like this all the time, without a shadow of a doubt, they will be battling it out for more titles; why they don't is a question only the players and Wenger can answer.
For 60 minutes, Arsenal were as comfortable against this dangerous City attacking line as you could have asked for. But, as is so often the case, they lost their concentration for a minute, Nacho Monreal was caught on the wrong side and Manchester City sent Sergio Aguero through on the counter-attack, with the Argentine doing what he has done all his career – put the ball into the back of the net.
However, Monreal replied back with a goal of his own, a fantastic one at that, before Alexis Sanchez scored the winner in extra time to send Arsenal into their third FA Cup final in four years, with Chelsea lying in wait.
After it was known that Arsenal were going with the same starting XI that beat Middlesbrough on Monday, it was predictable that City were going to be the ones with most of the ball.
And so it proved to be, with Arsenal more than happy to give City possession, as they sat back and defended their 18 yard box.
With three central defenders to cope with, City, who were hampered by the early loss of David Silva through injury, could find very little space in between the lines, and Arsenal looked quite comfortable in the 45 minutes.
While City had 70 per cent of the possession in the first half, it was sterile possession, something you normally criticise Arsenal for having, apart from the once when Leroy Sane curled in a cross from the left, with Aguero finding the target, only for the goal to be ruled out, with the assistant referee judging the ball had gone out when it curled from right to left off Sane's left boot. Let's just say that decision could have gone either way.
Wenger clearly said "OK, that's enough of the defending, let's try winning our way now" and Arsenal looked more like the attacking team we have known over the years.
The key to those Arsenal attacks was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who had another outstanding game as the right wing-back, playing as if he has played in that position all his life.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is a nightmare for defenders when he runs at them with pace and on a couple of occasions, the midfielder/wing-back caused City plenty of problems down the right, even if the goal could not quite come.
Arsenal were in the ascendancy now with 15 minutes gone in the second half, but as is so often the case, they took their eyes off the ball for a second and were punished.
The Gunners lost possession of the ball in the City box, the ball broke to Aguero, and with Monreal, for some reason, ahead of the Argentine, the City striker had a clear run on goal. Petr Cech came out to try and stop Aguero from scoring, but a beautiful lob over the onrushing Arsenal goalkeeper saw the score shift to 1-0 in City's favour.
Arsenal could have easily capitulated with that goal, mainly because it had come when they looked more likely to score, but to their credit, they didn't buckle.
They kept at it, and through Oxlade-Chamberlain, again, found the goal. The Arsenal man was given too much time to swing a cross, and swing a cross he did, towards the far post, with Monreal coming in at the back and providing a brilliant finish with his weaker foot, the right, to make up for his defensive mistake that cost Arsenal the opening goal.
As both sides went looking for the winner – neither seemed too keen on extra time – City were the ones who came closest.
First, Yaya Toure hit a fantastic volley, which was saved onto the post by an even better save from Cech, before Fernandinho, off a corner, rattled the crossbar with a header.
Danny Welbeck came on late in the 90 minutes, and nearly won the game for Arsenal, when he curled one just wide, but it was extra time for a second consecutive FA Cup semifinal.
Arsenal started the first half of the extra 30 well, with Danny Welbeck's freshness and hustling ability causing City a few problems. Off one of those corners won thanks to Welbeck's hustle, Arsenal should have really taken the lead, but Rob Holding fired his header high from nine yards out.
Off the next setpiece, however, Arsenal, who caused City problems all day from the deadball, scored.
The freekick was clipped to the far post, Laurent Koscielny won the header and guided it back into the danger area. Welbeck missed his shot, but Sanchez didn't, taking a touch to move the ball away from a City defender, before slotting it into the bottom corner.
Arsenal then had a really good chance to put the game to bed, but Welbeck, in the last minute of the first half of extra time, couldn't direct his header on target.
The second period was all about City pushing and pushing and Arsenal looking to kill the game off on the counter; neither could find the net, though, but it was the North London club who sailed into the final.