It was not a vintage Arsenal performance but they did enough in the end to win their FA Cup semi-final against Reading in extra time.
The Royals had put up a great fight but a howler from their goalkeeper, Adam Federici, handed Arsene Wenger’s side victory and saw the Gunners book a place in their second successive final in the competition.
Their success in the competition has saved Wenger and taken huge pressure off him. In fact, if it wasn’t for the FA Cup, his reputation would be in complete tatters.
Before last year’s success over Hull City, Arsenal had failed to win a single major trophy since the 2005 FA Cup, where they defeated Manchester United on penalties.
Wenger has prioritised qualifying for the Champions League every season. Although this has done wonders for the club’s coffers, it is not enough for most supporters, who are desperate to see their club win at least one major honour each year.
It meant that going nine years without a trophy was completely unacceptable and meant Wenger was becoming recognised for his failures as Arsenal’s boss instead of his many early successes.
He had changed his style. His focus on bringing talented youngsters through and playing nice football was having an adverse effect on a team that did not know how to win in the big games.
This season, after a shaky start, Wenger has been exceptional. His side still play nice football but he has become much more pragmatic as proven by recent wins away at Manchester City and Manchester United despite not having the majority of the possession.
His will to win at all costs has returned, much to the delight of the Arsenal fans.
That win over Hull in last year’s final bought him some time and it the pressure had gone after he finally managed to break his trophy drought.
Wenger has pushed on and returned Arsenal to yet another FA Cup final. His success in the competition is overshadowing the failure to challenge consistently for Premier League and Champions League honours and has preserved his legacy as one of the greatest managers in the Gunners illustrious history.