Wigan Athletic vs. Arsenal: 6 Things We Learned from Dramatic FA Cup Semi-Final

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Wigan Athletic vs. Arsenal: 6 Things We Learned from Dramatic FA Cup Semi-Final
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Lukasz Fabianski saved Arsenal's blushes and proved the hero for Arsene Wenger and the Gunners in their FA Cup semi-final clash against Uwe Rosler's Wigan Athletic after the Polish 'keeper saved two penalties in the shootout after extra time.

The man dubbed "Flappyhandski" by Arsenal fans after a series of goalkeeping blunders early on in his career at the club turned out to be the big difference in the penalty shootout.

The Gunners made extremely hard work of beating the Championship-based Latics. 

Wigan, huge underdogs before the game, took a deserved lead on the hour-mark when Jordi Gomez slapped home an expertly taken penalty. The 28-year-old Spanish midfielder was forced to stand through three minutes of Arsenal fans booing before he could take the spot-kick as Nacho Monreal was receiving treatment.

In the end, the playmaker was coolness personified as he guided the ball home past the outstretched Lukasz Fabianski to give Wigan the lead. Strangely, Gomez was assigned to take the last penalty in the shootout but by that stage the game was over.

With Rosler's team well on top, Wenger was forced to act and within minutes of the goal, he hauled the ineffectual Lukas Podolski off in place of Olivier Giroud, despite a chorus of boos from Arsenal's fans who questioned the decision.

It was clear that Arsenal were going 4-4-2 for the last 20 minutes. The Gunners immediately upped the tempo and started bombarding the outstanding Scott Carson in the Wigan goal with crosses from deep.

It was from one such cross and set-piece that Per Mertesacker equalized from. The giant German, known as the BFG to Arsenal fans, stooped to head home at the far post and make up for the lazy challenge on Callum McManaman that gave Wigan the Gomez penalty. The irony behind the goal is that the Gunners resorted to base tactics to find the net while Wigan played the composed football.

With the wind in their sails, Arsenal pushed on, but Wigan held firm and forced the game into extra time. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain impressed throughout and almost won the game for Wenger when he smashed the ball off the bar with Carson well beaten in the second period of extra-time.

Arsenal continued to attack and Wigan continued to hold firm as the game counted down towards the lottery that is the penalty shootout. 

It must be said that Wigan's players seemed to lack conviction in the shootout while Arsenal's spot kicks were all well-placed and emphatic. In the end it was Santi Cazorla who scored the winning penalty and who will claim the plaudits for putting Arsenal through to the final.

The truth, however, was that the Spaniard was anonymous throughout and was a passenger for most of the match.

Arsenal's fans will care little, though, and they move one step closer to ending a nine-year trophy drought.

Here, Bleacher Report offers six things we learned from Wigan Athletic vs. Arsenal...

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