Arsenal are through to Wembley after beating Ipswich Town 4-3 on aggregate. It took a long time coming, but goals from Nicklas Bendtner, Laurent Koscielny and Cesc Fabregas sending the Gunners through to Wembley.
Ipswich set up in a similar system to the one they used a fortnight ago that saw them win 1-0; the only difference was that Grant Leadbitter, injured in the first leg, came into the side in a central midfield position, pushing David Norris to the right and Carlos Edwards to right back. Connor Wickham, impressive in the first leg, continued his left wing role. For Arsenal, Robin van Persie started, as did Andrey Arshavin and Cesc Fabregas.
Ipswich, as Paul Jewell said they would, played very defensive, with the midfielders dropping deep as well, creating a wall of 9 players for Arsenal to get by. The defenders were very narrow (perhaps helped on one side, the left, by Darren O’Dea, the left back, being a natural centre back). Arsenal, despite having a majority of possession at half time (74%), they only had 2 shots on target; the one clear chance they did have, when van Persie hit the bar, was after a cross from Bendtner on the right, who received possession from a Clichy diagonal. If Ipswich were to be broken down, they were not going to be broken down through the middle, and either width or from a defensive error would be the way Arsenal would score.
The second half started no different from the first; Ipswich got men behind the ball, and Arsenal had trouble breaking them down.
What Arsenal didn’t do, however, was panic and send players forward. They were always confident that they’d get at least one goal, and it eventually came. Ironically, it was a quick counter attack from Arsenal, after Ipswich pressed, and their defence and midfield pushed up. What they didn’t do, however, was put pressure on Wilshere, and he had all the time in the world to play a perfect pass to Bendtner, who controlled, beat the right back and then finished with aplomb. It was a superb goal, and just minutes later they were two up; Koscielny heading home from an Arshavin corner that he had won after putting pressure on the Ipswich defender.
Ipswich now had to change their game and come forward, and they had a couple of half chances. What they gave up by going forward though was defensive solidity and after going 4-4-2, Arsenal began to dominate the midfield. Passage through wasn’t sealed until a third goal, and it came after a superb counter attack; Denilson won the ball in the midfield, Ipswich had pushed up and had 6 players in the Arsenal half, and 3 simple passes later, Fabregas was scoring. It was a simple counter attack, and rounded off an excellent performance.
Arsenal showed good patience and good tactical discipline to maintain their shape despite Ipswich frustrating them. Finally, the goal came when Ipswich pushed out a bit, and Bendtner was able to find space on the right. 3-0 is perhaps harsh on Ipswich, as they defended extremely well for 150 minutes, but it was what the Arsenal performance deserved for their patience, and for their two excellent counter attacks.