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#EmiratesFACup: Five things we noticed

Laca Bellerin Pepe Auba

APPRECIATION POST: GRANIT XHAKA

Was this Granit Xhaka's best performance in an Arsenal shirt? Quite possibly, and it will take some eclipsing. Xhaka was everywhere at Wembley, THE standout midfielder on the pitch and a huge influence at both ends. He came to our rescue three times in a one-sided first 15 minutes, racing across to make a covering tackle after City stole the ball from Mustafi inside our area and hooking clearances away from inside our six-yard box. But when the opportunity came Xhaka pressed City in their half, snatching possession to set up a chance that we should have made more from when Aubameyang couldn't find Pepe. None of our outfield players made more passes than Xhaka's 30, but here's the standout stat: he completed 93% of those, including 88% of his passes in City's half. In the heat of a cup semi-final against a side that never let you settle on the ball, that is truly commendable.

Xhaka

APPRECIATION POST: DAVID LUIZ

There was a lovely moment in David Luiz's post-match interview with BT Sport when the reporter phrased his question about our 3-0 defeat at City last month in generous terms. "Arsenal came under a lot of criticism for their defending against City last month..." David Luiz, who owned his mistakes at the time, interjected: "A lot of criticism of me, no? You can say that." It said a lot about a player who, as Mikel Arteta puts it, "has had some difficult moments and some incredible moments", but never hides when it gets tough. If his errors at the Etihad last month can be filed under "difficult moments", David Luiz's display at Wembley on Saturday goes down as "incredible". The Brazilian's redemption in numbers: four aerial duels, all won; a team-high 11 clearances; a team-high four interceptions. Oh, and he would have added an assist had Aubameyang been as lethal with the chance that David Luiz set up as he was with his other two.

David Luiz

APPRECIATION POST: KIERAN TIERNEY

Kieran Tierney's popularity has been up and to the right ever since he emerged from lockdown, fit and firing and ready to deliver. The Scot's humility and utter devotion to the cause has made him a huge hit with our fans, and his stock rose yet again on Saturday. Tierney's positioning and anticipation was excellent; he was consistently in the right place to head dangerous crosses away or step in to make an interception and then - crucially - make a telling pass. That was particularly useful when City came on strong in the second half. Tierney's biggest contribution to our clean sheet was a fifth-minute dash across the box to deny Sterling after Ceballos had been dispossessed (and possibly fouled). And Tierney was a big reason for the 2 on the scoreboard as well with a pinpoint first-time pass to send Aubameyang clear for our second goal.

Tierney

REVERSING THE TREND

Our last win against City before Saturday? The 2017 Emirates FA Cup semi-final, where Nacho Monreal scored a goal that mirrored Aubameyang's first this weekend - a decisive finish from a right-wing cross. Alexis got the winner three years ago but, since then, we'd lost seven straight to City, scoring just two and conceding 20. When City swarmed all over us in the first 15 minutes - piling up 92% possession in that period - it looked ominous. But for all their territory and possession, City mustered just one shot on target in the 90 minutes, their fewest in a game for more than two years. City did have 16 shots in total, but five of those were blocked - including one apiece from the three players mentioned above. De Bruyne's shift to the right helped make City more dangerous in the second half, but even their talisman could not break us down.

Saka Auba Laca

AUBA DELIVERS AGAIN

"Aubameyang doesn't score in big games" got an airing ahead of this semi-final, and our captain answered those accusations spectacularly - before poking fun at his critics on Twitter. OK, he probably should have scored before he did, firing too close to Ederson after David Luiz played him in. But it sums up Auba that, just three minutes later, he converted a more difficult chance. This was a fine team move - 18 passes involving 10 players - but it was capped by a supreme finish, a half-volley with the outside of the boot. Auba's second was finished off with a minimum of fuss, and that was that. A lesson in ruthlessness from a man who now has 66 goals for us in all competitions. Since Auba's debut, only Mohamed Salah (68) has scored more among Premier League players. And only three other players have scored a brace for us at Wembley - Reg Lewis in the 1950 FA Cup final, Charlie Nicholas in the 1987 League Cup final and Alexis in the 2015 FA Cup semi-final.

Auba goal map

 

 

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