With time ticking down and chances going begging at Wembley, Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta was beginning to think it was not going to be his side's day as they slogged through a gruelling FA Cup semi-final with Wigan Athletic.
It took a penalty shoot-out for the Gunners to eventually get past the cup-holders from the English Championship, after having come from behind to almost snatch the win in extra-time, but it ended 1-1.
“I think we were very unlucky to go a goal down, but the lads reacted really well and after that we were much better,” Arteta said. "We really went for it and had the chances. We hit the crossbar, the post, the goalkeeper made some really good saves and we thought it was not going to be our day, but we've done it and the penalties were terrific where Lukasz (Fabianski) made the difference.”
It took two shootout saves from Fabianski to end the hopes of successive finals for Wigan, but Arteta believes this blip, in what has been an impressive FA Cup campaign for the North London side, is no cause for panic.
“I don't know any team in the world that has won a competition and not gone through some difficult moments during it,” the Spaniard said. "Today I think we went through our most difficult moment we have had in the FA Cup, even though we have played Spurs, Liverpool, Everton and today Wigan. It gives us confidence but also a bit of enthusiasm with something to look forward to at the end of the season”
Ramsey return lifts Gunners
An additional cause for celebration back at the Emirates Stadium was the return of Aaron Ramsey to the starting line-up after four months on the sidelines, playing all but five minutes of the two-hour battle at Wembley.
“It was quite tough out there, it was obviously my first game back and to play 115 minutes was quite tough, but I managed to get through it,” the Welshman said after the game.
It has been a slow process as the energetic midfielder worked towards getting back onto the field, which he admits “It's been really frustrating, and things personally were going really well, and I was itching to get back out there, but things happened again and it was a disappointing time and I'm happy to be back out there.”
Since getting injured, Arsenal have gone from top of the English Premier League to fifth, while suffering heavy defeats to some of their nearest rivals, but the Gunners' FA Cup run has left Ramsey upbeat about what the season still may hold.
“We definitely had a few bad results away from home against the top teams and that's damaged the confidence a bit but we're in the final of the FA Cup and still battling for fourth, so this could be one of the most successful seasons at Arsenal for many years. We still have a lot to play for.”