All Guns Blazing: Football and politics have much in common as Arsenal reach FA Cup final

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with Kieran Gibbs (rig

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with Kieran Gibbs (right) during the FA Cup Semi Final match at Wembley Stadium, Picture: PA/Andrew Matthews - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

In our weekly Arsenal fan column, Alex Bellotti says that last weekend’s gaffe-filled FA Cup matches mirrored politics at its most chaotic.

With the general election and FA Cup final, May will be a pivotal month for both politics and football, and as such, the two are increasingly blurring into one.

Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final triumph against Reading on Saturday was a case in point. A classic example of a major party struggling to shake off tenacious smaller opposition, it was a contest short on clear, concise action and one ultimately settled by which side made the most blunders.

I feel for Adam Federici – in terms of gaffes, it was up there with Natalie Bennett’s infamous LBC interview for the Green Party. After making a fine save from Gabriel’s near post header, the Reading goalkeeper had the look of a man who could keep his side in it until penalties, and while I’m all for celebrating Arsenal goals however they come, the pictures of him struggling to contain his emotions afterwards hit a particularly bittersweet note.

After the stress of Saturday, it was refreshing to sit back and watch Liverpool and Aston Villa duke it out to play us on May 30. In my last column, I expressed some reservations about the genius of Brendan Rodgers, but quite how far he managed to fall short on Sunday surpassed even my expectations.

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The amount of times he changed tactics in the first half alone was bizarre; like in an episode of The Thick Of It, every attempt to correct a mistake just led to a further mistake, piling the problems so high that eventually the whole thing came crashing down like a house of cards.

While I actually think a resurgent Villa could be as tough – if not tougher – a task than Liverpool, I couldn’t help but enjoy the pre-emptive collapse of Steven Gerrard’s birthday celebrations and it made for a thoroughly satisfying weekend.

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With Arsenal sitting relatively comfortably in a Champions League spot, there doesn’t seem much to play for now until the FA Cup final, but there’s certainly no room for complacency against Chelsea on Sunday.

In many ways, it’s a mirror of Britain’s biggest political rivalry. On one side, we have the red north London idealists, on the other the blue oligarchs of west London, who currently sit top of the table.

Who will win? Perhaps, in the interest of political neutrality, it’s best to speak ‘footballastically’: I hope Alexis Sanchez tears Chelsea a new one.

Follow me @alexbellotti

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