Who will win the FA Cup?
Nigel Clough's Blades' side put in a brave effort as they bid to become the first third tier side to reach the FA Cup Final since Tottenham Hotspur in 1901. But it was not to be as the Tigers emerged victors in an eight goal thriller at Wembley.
Jose Baxter sent the Blades ahead early on before Yannick Sagbo equalised for Steve Bruce's men. Stefan Scougall responded for United soon after to send them 2-1 up at the break.
Bruce's half time team talk seemingly inspired his men to respond as Matty Fryatt and Tom Huddlestone scored within ten minutes of the restart to give Hull the lead. Huddlestone's effort was a classy finish that underlined the difference in quality between the two sides, as per BBC Sport.
Stephen Quinn gave Hull a two goal cushion before Jamie Murphy gave Sheffield United a fleeting hope of rescuing the match with a 90th minute goal that brought the score back to 4-3. It was not to be, however, as David Meyler secured victory and a final place for Hull City.
We are absolutely delighted. We needed one hell of a turn around but the one thing you can't do with this team is write them off.
You have to give credit to Sheffield United. They took care of the ball better than we did and we had a poor first half.
We needed to go two up top and once we did that we have won out OK.
There are always going to be nerves and it is how you handle it. We certainly found it difficult in the first half.
The pressure is on Arsenal. They haven't won anything for a while and that will be brought up again.
Nigel Clough's was bidding to win the FA Cup, a feat never achieved by his father Brian - widely recognised to be one of the greatest British managers of all time. But it was not to be for Clough Jnr. despite a bright start by his Blades' side.
This year's FA Cup has proved a welcome distraction for the Yorkshire side, as they sit comfortably in mid-table in League Two, seven points adrift of the play off positions. A side unfamiliar with their current league position, United will hope they can carry some of their FA Cup form into next season as they bid to join their fierce rivals, Sheffield Wednesday, in the Championship.
Clough spoke to BBC Sport following the tie.
We are proud of their efforts but we are a bit disappointed as we had a chance today.
We knew they would make a change or two and go more direct but we knew we had to stand up to it for 10 minutes and try and get a third goal ourselves but we couldn't.
I am proud for the whole club, the support was amazing and I am just sorry we couldn't have won it for them.
It's been a great Cup run and that hasn't changed. I think we will look back at better memories in a week or so than we do at the moment.
The 2014 FA Cup semi-finals got underway on Saturday, with Arsenal beating Wigan Athletic on penalties, 4-2, to become the first club to advance to the final, as the Gunners look to end one of the longest trophy droughts in club history.
GOAL! Santi Cazorla scores to make it 4-2 to Arsenal on penalties and send the Gunners into The #FACup Final on 17 May.— The FA (@FA) April 12, 2014
After 120 minutes of football, a 1-1 draw was all either team could muster with Per Mertesacker going from villain to hero, committing the foul that lead to Jordi Gomez's penalty goal and equalising with a close-range header.
Scott Carson played an excellent game in goal for the defending champions, and Callum McManaman will be haunting Nacho Monreal's nightmares for the next few weeks, but the Gunners grew into the contest and had plenty of chances to finish the Latics in the final 15 minutes.
Extra time belonged to Arsenal as well, but the closest the North Londoners would come to scoring would be a beautiful blast from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain that bounced off the crossbar.
So the game went to penalties, and Lukasz Fabianski became the big hero for the Gunners by stopping the first two shots he faced on his way to securing his team's 4-2 win in the series. Santi Cazorla would score the final penalty for his club, as Arsenal advanced to the final.
|Saturday, April 12||Arsenal||Wigan Athletic||1-1 (4-2)|
|Sunday, April 13||Hull City||Sheffield United||5-3|
Team shareholder Darren lauded the match winner:
Since last March when Fabianski came in at Bayern has done well every time called on. Deserved that,& will do a final place— Darren (@DarrenArsenal1) April 12, 2014
Goal.com's Wayne Veysey noted how glad Arsene Wenger was with the win:
Arsenal press officer & Wenger hug by the tunnel entrance. Relief all round. No spinning needed today.— Wayne Veysey (@wayneveysey) April 12, 2014
Arsenal dominated possession throughout the match, and per WhoScored.com, he ended the match with 62 percent while out-shooting the Latics, 27-9. But only a third of those shots were on target, and a conversion rate of a single goal is simply not good enough in a fixture of this magnitude.
Manager Uwe Rosler had his team ready for the Gunners and rightfully received a lot of credit, but his substitution of McManaman might have been the turning point in this tie.
Choosing experience over the marauding runs of the youngster seems like a logical choice, but without McManaman, Wigan lacked any form of depth to trouble Arsenal's defense.
Bleacher Report's Nick Akerman saw the same thing:
Rosler slowed Wigan’s play by taking McManaman off, bad move as they are sitting back now.— Nick Akerman (@Nakerman) April 12, 2014
Without having to worry about the threat of the counter as much, the Gunners were able to commit more players to the attacking third, and unsurprisingly, it was a defender that would score the equaliser.
Speaking of, Arsenal's attackers weren't on point on Saturday, and FutbolBible put things bluntly when discussing Olivier Giroud:
Jesus.... Giroud is awful— FutbolBible (@FutbolBible) April 12, 2014
Yaya Sanogo got his chance to play up front for the Gunners and showed his eagerness, but the French striker failed to register on the scoresheet as his rawness was on full display on such a large stage.
Squawka's James McManus reminded everyone Sanogo is starting to near the age at which you can no longer speak of players as "prospects":
Yaya Sanogo is older than Romelu Lukaku. Just let that sink in for a moment.— James McManus (@JamesMcManus1) April 12, 2014
Arsenal will take on the winners of Sunday's fixture between Hull City and Sheffield United, and the Gunners will be favoured going into the final regardless of their opponents.
Wenger and his team have endured a nine-year trophy drought and fans are desperate for some silverware, so this year's FA Cup final will be one of the most important matches the team will play all season.
Arsenal have struggled dealing with pressure in 2014, but next month's final should present the Gunners with the perfect opportunity to take care of those demons once and for all.