Arsenal took one step closer to ending their nine-year trophy drought with victory over Wigan Athletic at Wembley Saturday, though they certainly did it the hard way.
After a subdued first-half performance where Arsenal looked short on confidence, the game burst into life early in the second period when Per Mertesacker hauled down Wigan's star performer Callum McManaman and Spaniard Jordi Gomez subsequently scored the resulting penalty.
Wenger could barely watch, and Wigan’s goal – accompanied by Nacho Monreal’s withdrawal through injury – left the French boss with his head in his hands.
Arsenal rallied in the last quarter of the match, and with just under 10 minutes of normal time remaining, German centre-back Mertesacker made amends for his previous error by scoring the equaliser. At this stage, Arsenal looked odds-on to score a second goal and go on to win.
Although Arsenal came agonisingly close to winning the game during extra time, a penalty shoot-out ensued. The shoot-out itself was a slight anti-climax for many neutrals, after Lukasz Fabianksi saved Wigan’s first two penalties, but Wenger could still barely watch as Arsenal's Santi Cazorla’s stepped up to formally put the tie to bed.
Arsenal fans went crazy, and the ever-calm Wenger showed how much the victory meant to him. A tough day at the office, but Arsenal now must have their best chance for silverware in 9 years.