“Heroes” on and off the pitch at the Emirates
CESC Fabregas might have had the last laugh as Arsenal finally overcome brave Ipswich Town.
But the mercurial midfielder, whose mouth does not match his talent, certainly played a pivotal role in ensuring that the 9,000 Super Blues fans earned themselves credit inside the Emirates Stadium.
Shoving the Spaniard’s thoughts right back at him, Town fans were quick to remind Fabregas that Ipswich were anything but a ‘rugby’ side – even if one wag bought an inflatable ball to mock the comments made by the Arsenal skipper after the first leg.
“1-0 to the rugby team” and stirring renditions of “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” were sung loud and proud by a set of fans who haven’t had much to sing about in recent times.
And when player and supporters came face-to-face – Fabregas driving a good chance wide of the far post after 36 minutes – it was the moment the fantastic travelling fans were waiting for as they mocked the midfielder, who would later get his revenge with Arsenal’s third goal.
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The thousands who came dared to dream but many of them would not have predicted a goalless first half.
They were at one of the most impressive stadiums in the world to enjoy themselves. And they were just 90 minutes from a Wembley final regardless of the star-studded opposition standing in their way.
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With musical hype more akin to X-Factor booming around the stadium, the stage was set and the blue and white army that congregated behind one goal were a credit to the club from the first whistle.
The announcer cried out to the notoriously quiet home crowd: “Gooners are you ready?”. No one had to ask the Town section the same question.
“Time for Heroes” a banner proclaimed from the away end and the men on the pitch stuck to their side of the bargain admirably.
There were first half scares, there were always going to be. Whether it was Robin van Persie hitting the bar or Connor Wickham putting in a heart-in-the-mouth lunge to earn a yellow card, the singing was incessant.
The loyal fans were momentarily silenced by two Arsenal goals in two minutes but when Fabregas added the third, those in blue and white still refused to be silent.
It was a performance befitting the occasion. Both from those on and off the pitch.