Arsenal 5-0 Lincoln: Gunners ease into FA Cup semi-finals with routine win – 5 things we learned

Alexis Sanchez scored and made an assist as Arsenal cruised into the FA Cup semi-finals as brave Lincoln’s amazing run finally came to an end.

Sanchez scored a fabulously taken goal as Arsenal overwhelmed Lincoln in the second half before also setting up Aaron Ramsey who scored the fifth in the 73rd minute.

It was heartbreaking for non-league Lincoln who held out until Theo Walcott’s deflected shot opened the scoring in first half injury time.

Olivier Giroud, Luke Waterfall’s own goal and then Alexis Sanchez and Ramsey booked Arsenal’s place in the last four at Wembley.

It was tough on Lincoln as Nathan Arnold went so close in the first half but was denied by a terrific save from Arsenal keeper Petr Cech.

1. Lincoln did themselves proud

Non-league Lincoln have put themselves on the map with their cup run, knocking out Burnley, Brighton and Ipswich on the way.

Lincoln’s cup run was a memorable one
(Photo: PA)

What a huge credit to Lincoln, the squad and the management that they were not overwhelmed and actually relished and embraced the whole experience.

They were competitive until the second half. Lincoln boss Danny Crowley’s last instructions in the tunnel were to tell the players to approach the game in blocks of ten minutes.

It worked so well, they had a plan, pushed Arsenal, competed and the 9,000 or so travelling fans had a great day out while the share of the gate is likely to swell Lincoln’s coffers by around £1m.

What a great journey, no matter the result. It’s why we love the FA Cup. It’s still special.

2. Arsenal’s confidence looks shot to bits

It’s hard to argue that a win over Lincoln can restore confidence. And that’s a worry because Arsenal looked so flat in the first half, short of belief and zip until the goals began to flow.

Yes, they’re on a hiding to nothing, a real no-win situation against Lincoln because they’re expected to win and anything else is a disaster for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.

Arsenal are lacking confidence despite this big win
(Photo: Getty Images Europe)

Everything feels so big at the moment, the spotlight on the manager, the uncertainty, the fans and whether Wenger will stay or go.

The whole situation appears to be affecting Arsenal. And no wonder. Arsenal will need a big upturn in performances if they are to salvage a top four finish and the FA Cup from this season.

3. Arsenal protests are not subsiding

Around 200 Arsenal fans staged a pre-match walk before Bayern Munich on Tuesday night. Hard to be too precise but probably a few more turned up before kick-off to voice their frustrations outside of the ground.

This isn’t going away no matter the results. The fans are demanding change. Worth remembering that it’s 200 out of 60,000 but even so it’s a group that demand to be listened to.

Fans protested prior to kick-off
(Photo: REUTERS)

But if you want the other side of the argument, then Lincoln manager Danny Cowley out it nicely on Wenger: “He’s forgotten more than I know. He’s a pioneer.”

Best banner? Undoubtedly the one which read: “Wexit”

4. Cup romance is dead

What about the romance of the cup? Well, there’s no room for sentiment as far as Arsene Wenger is concerned.

The Arsenal manager knows the gravity of the situation and picked a full strength team. Wenger knows the FA Cup – which he has won six times – could yet again be his salvation.

There was to be no romantic ending to Lincoln’s FA Cup story
(Photo: Getty Images Europe)

By the way, one Lincoln official overheard before kick-off. “Why do the papers keep calling us non-league? We’re National League.” Er…

Sadly for Lincoln, they’ve caused so many upsets that Arsenal could take no chances.

And no need for penalties or a fourth sub as Arsenal got the job done.

5. Arsene Wenger has found a new formation…

Wenger started life as Arsenal manager using 4-4-2, then went to 4-5-1 in Europe before eventually succumbing to 4-2-3-1 in the Premier League.

Arsene Wenger tweaked his formation against non-league opposition
(Photo: REUTERS)

Well, now Wenger is using a new, albeit slightly tweaked formation, a 4-3-3 formation which allows an extra man in midfield for security, gets Aaron Ramsey in there and also has three forwards.

Wenger has been using it in recent weeks with Francis Coquelin struggling to anchor the midfield and maybe it gets the best out of a few more players.

Hard to tell yet whether it’s the answer. But something had to change.

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