The big bad evil Arsenal rained on everyone’s parade and routed Lincoln City, thus ending their incredible cup run and preventing more history from occurring. Although if you had seen the first half, you wouldn’t have this coming.
The first half was so sleep inducing that I was contemplating how I could make this report entertaining for people. I thought I would talk about some of my favourite words. Maybe I would make a compilation of the best soundbites from Chris Sutton’s commentary. Or I could pretend I was on Arsenal Fan TV and have a rant about the performance while throwing in blud and fam at random intervals.
Anything seemed better than talking about the game itself. Lincoln were bright in the opening ten minutes and gave Arsenal some difficulty by pressing high, but soon retreated into a low block and ceded possession to the home side. Arsenal’s play was low tempo and ineffective. The movement from the attackers was static. Lincoln had little trouble, happy to see Arsenal pass the ball in front of them and not have to worry about dynamic movement in behind them. At this point, the rest of country were licking their lips, sensing that Arsenal weren’t at it and that Lincoln had every chance of nicking it.
And in fairness, that seemed to be the case. We lacked confidence and rhythm. There was apathy around the ground and in the performance. It was much like the Sutton game, which also happened to follow a 5-1 hammering against Bayern Munich. Against better quality opposition we might have paid for it.
We managed to find a way through in first half stoppage time, when Walcott’s shot deflect in. It was a scrappy goal made out of little, but one that seemed to damage Lincoln’s belief beyond repair.
Arsenal were at it in the second half. Immediately, there was greater confidence and pace about how we circulated the ball. An intricate move down our right saw Bellerin and Alexis combine to get the fullback in behind. He pulled the ball back to the penalty spot to find Giroud completely unmarked the Frenchman swept in for 2-0. Five minutes later Alexis received the ball on the left, waiting for Gibbs’ underlap and slipped the ball in behind. Gibbs’ cutback was turned in by Waterfall. 3-0 and game well and truly over.
It was one-way traffic at this point. Arsenal had rediscovered their creativity and rhythm. They seemed to be enjoying their football for the first time in weeks. Lincoln were heavy legged and reeling. A fourth goal arrived when Alexis picked up Ozil’s pass, drove through the heart of Lincoln’s team and curled the ball in from the edge of the box. Ramsey added a fifth when he rounded the keeper and literally walked the ball into the goal. 5-0 the final score.
As I wrote before the Sutton game, you get very little from these games. If we played poorly and won people would mock us for not playing well against a National League team. If we played well and won people would remind us it’s only a National League team. It’s a game we should have won easily and, in the end, we did. There’s not much else to say.
Still, this was the most fun I had watching Arsenal for a while. I enjoy it when my team plays well, regardless of the opposition. Part of that enjoyment came from seeing BT Sport’s double standards rammed down their throats. When Ian Darke told Chris Sutton that Lincoln’s Bradley Wood planned on “smashing” Alexis Sanchez, Sutton laughed and responded “Brilliant!”. As if seeing Alexis get taken out would be hilarious. As if overstepping the line in physicality was perfectly okay because it was Lincoln City. Therefore, I got a kick out of their indignant response to Ozil flooring one of their players and getting away with it. Its petty but it’s what happens when you endure overwhelmingly biased commentary all game.
We’re through to the semi-finals where we’ll likely play one of the top six. Manchester City are already through, Spurs will likely see off Millwall and there’ll be one of Chelsea or United as well. We’ll have to buck a few trends if we want to win the FA Cup this season. It’s going to big occasion regardless and something to look forward to.
In the meantime, Arsenal need to improve their league form and get some momentum going. Then maybe we’ll have a better chance against the big boys.