Arsenal 5-0 Lincoln City From the Emirates Stadium

They say that all good things must come to an end. Almost nine thousand noisy Lincoln City fans piled into the Emirates this afternoon hoping that this particular fairytale still had a couple of chapters left to come, but Lincoln’s unlikely FA Cup run came to an end at the hands of a ruthless Arsenal side.

Imps manager Danny Cowley said before the game that his side had a ‘one in a thousand’ chance of going through, and in the end those odds proved insurmountable. Having become the first non-league outfit to reach the quarter finals of the FA Cup in over a hundred years, it seemed that a trip to Wembley was just too much to ask of this stubborn Lincoln City team.

IMPS CAN HOLD THEIR HEADS HIGH

Of course, it all could have been so much different. The 5-0 scoreline suggests that this game was a walk in the park for Arsene Wenger’s team, but those who watched the match will know that this was far from the case. Lincoln more than matched Arsenal in the first half, displaying the kind of intensity, aggression, and discipline that has seen them claim so many scalps on this remarkable run.

And they so easily could have found themselves in front. A neat passing move allowed the lively Nathan Arnold to waltz passed Laurent Koscielny but his shot was parried away by Petr Cech in the Arsenal goal, as the home fans breathed a sigh of relief. You felt it was the kind of chance Lincoln had to take if they were to stand a chance in this match, but Arnold was left to rue what would prove to be the visitors’ best opening of the game.

Perhaps Theo Walcott’s opening goal, just minutes before the interval, is what dented the confidence of the away side. Latching on to a loose ball into the penalty area, Walcott’s deflected shot nestled in the bottom corner to undo Lincoln’s tireless first half efforts. The second half was a procession for Arsenal, and highlighted the chasm between these two teams. However, Lincoln gave an admirable account of themselves throughout and had Arsenal scrambling on many occasions. On this occasion though, it just wasn’t meant to be for Cowley’s men.

MOMENTARY RESPITE FOR WENGER

Arguably, this game was just as crucial for Arsenal as it was for their non-league opponents. Realistically, the FA Cup represents Arsene Wenger’s last hope for silverware this season and having been humiliated at the hands of Bayern Munich here just days ago, the home side needed to make a statement.

Indeed, this game could easily be viewed as a no-win situation for Wenger. Were Arsenal to have lost, then it would have been the ultimate humiliation for the Frenchman, surely heralding the end of his tenure. But even having won comfortably in the end, Arsenal have merely done what was expected of them – eliminating a non-league side at home. It’s hardly one of Wenger’s most impressive achievements, but in the context of Arsenal’s current form, it’s a vital win.

This victory will keep the wolves from the door for the time being, and may momentarily sate the loud-mouthed, indignant supporters as seen on the infamous Arsenal Fan TV. However, a great deal of supporters have already made their minds up that it is time for Wenger to go, and should Arsenal stumble against West Brom next weekend, then you can bet those particular wolves will be snarling and baring their teeth once again.

MAGIC OF THE CUP?

The whole ‘has the FA Cup lost it’s magic’ debate is one of the most tiresome in football, but try telling the nine thousand Lincoln fans partying in the Emirates earlier that the FA Cup is nothing more than an inconvenience. Lincoln’s buoyant fans were a welcome contrast to the pervading rancour that lingers over so much of the home support at the Emirates, and the club’s cup run is one of the great stories in FA Cup history.

While the FA Cup’s reputation among the top clubs may have dwindled over the last decade or so, the competition’s ability to create runs such as Lincoln’s, and occasions like today – the like of which fans and players alike can revel in for years to come – is proof that the FA Cup is still very special indeed.

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