Not just Fabianski: Arsenal's real FA Cup hero against Wigan was Kieran Gibbs

Kieran Gibbs

Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs was the real difference maker in normal time for the Gunners.

In the 63rd minute of the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday, two significant things happened.

Jordi Gomez converted the penalty for Wigan won by Callum McManaman, while Arsenal brought on Kieran Gibbs for Nacho Monreal.

And it was the Arsenal left-back change which helped prove important in the club's fightback.

While helped by opponent McManaman himself going off with an injury five minutes later, Gibbs was a vast improvement on his Spanish teammate.

Both players featured for roughly an hour, owing to the extra time played, but it was Gibbs who contributed more offensively and defensively.

At one stage he almost scored for the Gunners with a header, and was far more involved, having 64 touches compared to Monreal's 46.

He also made twice as many defensive clearances (4-2), while both players made two successful tackles. Even more key, were the two goalscoring opportunities he created due to his attacking play. Monreal didn't impact in this area.

Gibbs made 40 passes compared to Monreal's 26, completing 83% of them against 81%. The only areas Monreal bettered Gibbs in were interceptions (3-1) and aerial duels won (3-1).

Yet statistics aside, it was clear Arsenal were far more composed with Gibbs on the field than the shaky Spaniard, who has been criticised in recent weeks for his sub-par form.

Gibbs was unafraid to attack, offering the Gunners an outlet they did not have prior to him coming on, with his pace causing problem for the Wigan defence.

He has had and will no doubt continue to have his fitness troubles, but if both players are healthy when the final comes around on May 17, it must be the Englishman who starts.

His performance helped put Arsenal back on the front foot when they had to respond, and helped them play to their attacking strengths. More of the same will be required if they are to win the trophy.

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