Tag Archives: FA Cup

Match Report: Sheffield United 1 – 2 Arsenal

Sheffield United (0) 1 Arsenal (1) 2
FA Cup Sixth Round
Bramall Lane, Highfield, Sheffield S2 4SU
Sunday. 28th June 2020. Kick-off time: 1.00pm

(4-2-3-1) Emiliano Martínez; David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi, Kieran Tierney, Ainsley Maitland-Niles; Joe Willock, Granit Xhaka; Sead Kolašinac, Nicolas Pépé, Alexandre Lacazette; Bukayo Saka.
Substitutes: Hector Bellerin, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Dani Ceballos, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Rob Holding, Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, Matt Macey, Matt Smith.
Scorers: Nicolas Pépé (24 mins), Dani Ceballos (90+1 mins)
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 59%
Referee: Paul Tierney
Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restructions

And so, the day of our last throw of the dice for silverware in this most troubled of football seasons has now arrived. Much depends, of course, not only on the team selection, but of the attitude of our chaps today, so let’s hope that they throw caution to the wind, and go for it; after all, the FA Cup is our only chance of glory now, so we need a confident, emphatic win in South Yorkshire this Sunday lunchtime, nothing else will do.

A brisk and competitive start for both clubs showed the seriousness and intent for victory here today. Our defenders were put under pressue early on; indeed, after just eight minutes, the home side put a shot across our bows when the first goal of the match was chalked off for an offside call, which became a real wake up call for us. Ainsley Maitland-Niles had a young cool head on his shoulders when he came back to win the ball under pressure and distribute it accordingly to the midfielders; although it was a difficult period of the match, we managed to keep our shape and push the ball between ourselves extremely well indeed. Funnily enough, Sheffield United attempted to replicate our movements when they, too, started to distribute the ball closely in midfield, but thankfully, it was nothing to concern our players, as we were able to halt all attempts to advance towards our goal. After twenty-two minutes, Alexandre Lacazette was fouled just inside the Sheffield United penalty area, and after the usual VAR hand-wringing back in Stockley Park, Nicolas Pépé made no mistake from the penalty spot to put us into the lead, a minute or so before the usual mid-half drinks break. On the half-hour mark, Nicolas Pépé almost got a second goal for himself, when a superb shot was acrobatically saved by Blades goalie Dean Henderson. With a goal under our belts, we started to show our confidence, and dominate the match in various areas of the pitch, much to the growing frustration of the home side. An unfortunate collision between Joe Willock and Oli McBurnie meant that both sets of medical teams were called on to check the players (who went off the field to recover) before continuing the match. Kieran Tierney was desperately unlucky not to score our second when a clever shot just went over the bar, and minutes later, Nicolas Pépé again narrowly missed the target when a low ball from Kieran Tierney deceived the Sheffield defenders with a clever move from the left hand side of the pitch. During the seven minutes injury time period for the Joe Willock/Oli McBurnie collision from earlier, Arsenal were by far the better side of the two, putting together some interesting moves, but sadly unable to gain further advantage before the break.

We started the second half lively enough, but it was the home side that came close to scoring when an Oli McBurnie header was easily plucked out the air by Emiliano Martínez. The much maligned David Luiz went off with an injury after fifty-three minutes, to be replaced by Rob Holding, who speedily got into position, shoring up the defence perfectly. For the next few minutes, the home side started to take the match to us, with a couple of close chances and another disallowed goal which was cancelled for offside. We looked at all at sea at the back, and the home side were looking at their options to break through and score. Lively up yourselves Arsenal! Dani Ceballos and Eddie Nketiah replaced Alexandre Lacazette and Joe Willock after sixty-six minutes (just before the drinks break) in order to seal up this cup-tie, and almost immediately one could feel thet positive change in the team; indeed a snap 25-yard effort from Granit Xhaka gave everyone confidence with sixteen minutes left of the game, in which he was unlucky not to score. With the match settling down, we started to take our eyes off the ball, and sure enough David McGoldrick equalised for the Blades with just two minutes left on the clock. Despite pressure from the home side, just a minute or so later, Dani Ceballos picked the ball up in the opposing penalty area, moved forward quickly and coolly slotted the ball home past an outstretched Dean Henderson to restore the lead to Arsenal in injury time Unbelievable drama!

Well, well, well. Who would have thought it possible? After our results recently, we get to Wembley for our thirtieth FA Cup semi-final. Who knows where this journey may now end? It wasn’t great, it wasn’t pretty football at times, but hey, we got through; let’s not think about it too much at the moment, just be thankful that the result went our way at the end. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners.

Our next match: Norwich City at Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU on Wednesday, 1st July at 6.00pm (Premier League). Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

I LOVE the FA Cup (just a pity foreign managers are trying to destroy it)

I love the FA Cup.

For me it will always be the greatest cup competition on earth.

I grew up in the 90s (was born mid-80s) in a working class family in North-East London. We did not have the money for Sky TV. That meant the only football I got to watch was the FA Cup.

It was actually the FA Cup that made me fall in love with The Arsenal.

Watching the FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Tottenham in 1991 as a 6-year-old, I had decided to support whoever loses (I grew up in a family with little interest in football). 6-year-old me’s favourite colour was also red, so I was hoping Arsenal would lose so that I could support them.

I do not remember the game but Arsenal lost, and from that moment I became an Arsenal fan.

My next real memory of Arsenal was the 1993 FA Cup Final.

Back in those days the FA Cup Final was an all day event. The BBC would start off in the teams hotel for breakfast, live broadcast the coaches going into the stadium players on the pitch and so on.

I remember being in my kit, going out to the garden to kick a balloon pretending I played for Arsenal – no player in particular. At this point in my life the only connection I had with Arsenal was the kits I was bought. From memory I had never watched another game on TV since 1991, and did not know the players.

It finished 1-1. I do not remember watching the replay. It was past my bedtime.

The 1994 European Cup Winners Cup followed and that was it, I was hooked. But it all came from the FA Cup.

My love affair with the competition leads me to being extremely offended with the way managers, the media and the FA themselves treat the competition.

For as long as I can remember, people have questioned “the magic of the cup” and talked about its decline. But clubs, TV companies and the authorities are killing it themselves.

Tonight we play Bournemouth away. We will get some obnoxious pundit talking about the demise of the cup, whilst ignoring the fact that playing a game on a Monday night is part of the problem.

In recent years we have seen more games then ever be played on a Friday night, Saturday lunch time and Saturday afternoon.

3rd round FA Cup day used to be a day out. Sit in the pub with a huge accumulator watching the 3o’clock kick offs come in. With them now spread out over 4 days, it just is not the same.

The FA have removed the European place for the runners-up (if the winners had already qualified through the league). No longer will you get Millwall having a favourable run and going on a European tour.

A place in Europe was a well deserved prize for a lesser club if they had made it through to the final only to face and lose to one of the big boys.

The change happened from 2016, which denied Crystal Palace fans a European tour. Likewise Watford last year; thrashed in the final, no European football to help drown their sorrows.

For clubs like Palace and Watford, a cup run was their best chance of European football. Hull City, Stoke City, Cardiff City & Southampton have all qualified for Europe in recent years having finished runners-up in the cup. By removing the chance of getting into Europe as losing finalists, the FA enforce the view that survival in the Premier League is more important.

We then have the clubs themselves.

I have no issues with managers but out changed XIs in the cup. They have a squad of 25 players. It is there job to shuffle the pack and use them how they see fit. And with the top 6 especially, they have a wage bill of hundreds of millions and a squad filled with internationals.

What I can not stand is the (usual foreign) managers moaning about the cup.

We have Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola recently moaning about replays. About how England should scrap either the League Cup or FA Cup.

I am sorry, but these are foreign men who simply do not get English football. They want to come here, be paid millions, but then change the things that the fans love. If they do not want replays, if they do not want 2 domestic cups, maybe stick to managing in Spain?

Klopp yesterday talked about how in the replay against Shrewsbury Town he will be putting out the U23 team and Neil Critchley, the U23 manager will be taking charge.

Liverpool have a squad that is paid £264million. It contains over 20 players capped by their country.

Klopp put out a team that contained experience centre backs Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren; behind them was Adrian in goal. Fabinho, Takumi Minamino & Divock Origi were also in the team.

An experienced team, they were 2-0 up against Shrewsbury Town – 16th in League One. They drew 2-2. Mo Salah, Firminho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were all bought on to try and grab a winner.

Instead of deflecting and moaning about replays, Klopp should be calling out the performance of his own players who let a 2-0 lead slip.

Shrewsbury Town’s wage bill is just £3.5million. That is less than what most Liverpool players earn. The youngsters who started for the Scousers will also be on more money than any Shrewsbury Town player.

Liverpool might have already played 37 games this season; but Shrewsbury Town have played 36.

Whichever way you look at it, Klopp has no excuses over his side drawing against Shrewsbury. And his post-game comments shows that he just does not get the magic of the cup. It is no wonder that Liverpool have never made it past the 5th round under Klopp with his attitude.

And it is an awful attitude.

My problem with the likes of Klopp and Guardiola is these are not men who going to spend decades in the English game. Both will soon move on to their new paymasters. But whilst they are here, they are determined to wreck the greatest cup competition on earth. It just is not right.

If you can not respect the country you are living in, its customs, then maybe you should find another country.

Scrapping replays, letting the U23 manager take change, it is damaging in the long term.

The FA Cup is why I fell in love with football. It builds greater bonds for the children of Shrewsbury, Oxford and Exeter to their local club. Taking them out of the grasp of those super clubs that are hundreds of miles away.

A replay against Liverpool at Anfield will earn Shrewsbury Town in the region of £1million. It will mean a new training ground, or a new stand. It will transform the club. Transform the town.

But Klopp is sitting there in his ivory tower earning himself more money than Shrewsbury’s annual turnover, commenting about English football and English competitions. It shows he just does not understand.

Liverpool fans should call out Klopp. Make it clear that they do not agree with his stance. Likewise if Guardiola, Mikel Arteta or Jose Mourinho make disparaging comments, fans of Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea should make it clear that they disagree.

The FA Cup is the fans competition. From non-league to Premier League. If you do not understand its importance in English football, then you do not understand English football.

Yesterday we were informed that Yogis Warrior had sadly passed away. Stuart wrote A Cultured Left Foot. He was one of the best bloggers out there and inspired many others to “pick up a pen”. He wrote for years because he loved Arsenal. RIP, thoughts with his family.

A weekend ruined before it has even begun

The plan for the weekend was simple. Cricket.

And then Jason Holder hit 202 not out to give the West Indies a 628 run lead in the first test against England. 2 days still to play, it will be an uphill task.

The deluded optimist in me will be saying “the Windies were 415-6 when they declared. There are still 2 days to go. England have 50-odd on the board with 10 wickets in hand. The pitch has flattened out and the Windies bowling attacking is not great”.

But we all know how it will go. England will get to 80-odd. Lose the first wicket, then a couple more. Root and Butler will put on a battling 150, giving you that bit of hope again, before England lose the final 5 wickets for about 20 runs.

The match finished in 4 days, at least those out there will get an extra day on the beach instead of being in the cricket ground.

Hopefully the second test will be better.

Last nights defeat against Manchester United was certainly deja vu.

Over the last 10 years, under Wenger, Ferguson, Mourinho and more, Arsenal facing Manchester United has often followed the same script.

Arsenal dominate possession, have chances, miss chances, United score a couple on the break and win the game. And that is exactly what happened last night.

The Gunners were not poor yesterday. The statistics show we dominated the game. xG had us winning about 9-0. And that is why statistics are ultimately pointless. The only one that mattered was Manchester United scored 3 to Arsenal’s 1.

Manchester United scored 3 goals from their 4 shots on target. Not only do them seem capable over withstanding our pressure, they also have a habit of scoring goals against us without many chances.

A bit like the defeat against Chelsea earlier in the season, there are plenty of positives to take out of the game.

Despite losing our 2 central defenders, we battled well and matched a rejuvenated Manchester United.

Manchester United certainly have a feeling of the Roberto Di Matteo’s about them.

Di Matteo took over from André Villas-Boas at Chelsea. The senior players, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, John Terry, had downed tools. Made it clear they did not like the manager and got him sacked. Di Matteo came in and their form improved. It was nothing he did, it was just the players decided to start playing again.

They won the Champions League despite him.

The same is happening at Manchester United.

The likes of Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez clearly stopped playing under Jose Mourinho. They forced him out. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has not made them better players. They were already top draw players. They have just decided to start playing again.

Like Di Matteo, it would not surprise me if Solskjaer  led the team to a trophy, and even top 4. He will then get the job, the shine will rub off and he will be sacked in November. He will return to the manager that was sacked by Cardiff after 9 wins in 30 games.

You have to feel for Unai Emery at the moment. It just does not stop at the moment.

Some will say we have now lost 5 in 10, and he has to shoulder some of the blame for that, but we must stick with him.

It is not Emery’s fault that Sokratis and Laurent Koscielny suffered injuries last night. Koscielny’s was a freak accident. The pair have also had extended time off this season.

You then have Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding – both out for the season.

Shkodran Mustafi, Nacho Monreal and Saed Kolasinac have also spent time in the medical room this season, and Kostadinos Mavropanos has not been seen. Ainsley Maitland-Niles broke his leg in the first game of the season.

The only defender not to suffer an injury this season has been Carl Jenkinson.

To have so many defenders consistently out injured is just unlucky. We went into the season with 5 central defenders, and all 5 have spent time injured. You simply can not legislate for that.

So we have a race for 4th (I still think we will finish above Spurs) and the Europa League  left to look forward to this season.

Two chances to return to the Champions League, one chance to lift a trophy.

Emery will get things right, it will just take a couple more transfer windows.