Road to Wembley

Arsenal have the chance to retain the FA Cup for the first time since 2003 when they face Aston Villa on May 30.

The Gunners had to overcome several tough challenges to secure their return to the final. Here we take a look back at Arsenal’s road to Wembley.

Arsenal 2-0 Hull City
FA Cup third round
January 4
Arsenal began their FA Cup defence with a victory over last season’s finalists, and the Gunners ensured there would be no drama this time around. Per Mertesacker put the champions ahead, towering over Curtis Davies to score his first goal since the one that rescued last season’s semi-final against Wigan Athletic. Alexis Sanchez then spun on the edge of the box to curl a shot beyond Steve Harper’s reach and seal the tie for Arsenal on his FA Cup debut.

Brighton & Hove Albion 2-3 Arsenal

FA Cup fourth round
January 25
“If you love football, you love Tomas Rosicky,” declared Arsene Wenger in his post-match press conference following the Czech Republic international’s match-winning performance at Amex Stadium. Theo Walcott gave Arsenal the lead after just 90 seconds and then Rosicky stole the show. The forward found Mesut Ozil with an inch-perfect reverse pass to double the Gunners’ advantage before winning possession, playing a no-look pass to Olivier Giroud and expertly volleying the France striker’s return ball into the bottom corner to cancel out Chris O’Grady and Sam Baldock’s strikes.

Arsenal 2-0 Middlesbrough

FA Cup fifth round
February 15
Back to the Emirates and Arsenal were tasked with facing a Middlesbrough side who had their sights set on another giant killing, having already beaten Manchester City in the fourth round. However the Gunners had hit form themselves, winning six of their last seven games, and it only took 27 minutes for their class to show. Wojciech Szczesny took a short goal kick to Gabriel and 16 passes later, after all 11 Gunners had touched the ball, Olivier Giroud finished the ultimate Arsenal team goal at the near post. The France striker then demonstrated his own individual brilliance to volley Alexis Sanchez’s corner past Tomas Mejias and set up a quarter-final tie at Old Trafford.

Manchester United 1-2 Arsenal

FA Cup sixth round
March 9
With 11 FA Cup wins each, one team would take a step closer to being crowned the competition’s most successful side. Arsenal had not won at Old Trafford since 2006 but got off to a perfect start when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain danced through United’s defence to feed Nacho Monreal, who finished past David de Gea at his near post. Wayne Rooney equalised for the hosts but Danny Welbeck soon left his mark on his homecoming. The England forward pounced on Antonio Valencia’s loose back pass, rounded De Gea and slotted into the empty net to seal Arsenal’s return to Wembley and spark jubilant celebrations in front of the 9,000 travelling fans.

Reading 1-2 Arsenal

FA Cup semi-final
April 18
Arsene Wenger had warned his side not to underestimate their Championship opponents ahead of the semi-final and, like last season’s tie against Wigan Athletic, Reading took Arsenal to extra-time. Mesut Ozil found Alexis Sanchez with a clever clipped pass and the Chile forward slotted underneath Adam Federici to give the Gunners the lead, but Garath McCleary equalised. Gabriel and Aaron Ramsey struck the frame of the goal but Arsenal’s fortunes were soon reversed when Alexis’ low strike was fumbled into the net by Federici to secure Arsenal’s place in a record 19th FA Cup final.

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