Tag Archives: FA Cup

FA Cup more important than finishing 4th

For a long time now I have not really cared about the top 4.

Yes, I understand the money involved in making (or not making) it, and that some of our financial restrictions at the moment are due to a £30million black hole where the Champions League television money used to be, but I really do not care.

Finishing 4th and trophyless is a nothing season. We did it for it for 8 years between 2006 and 2013. Not winning a trophy each year hurt. It was boring. Top 4 is not a trophy.

It is interesting how things have changed since that barren run for Arsenal.

We were rightly criticised for treating top 4 like a trophy. For celebrating it as one, whilst not actually winning any real trophies. Role forward 5 years from the end of that trophy drought and we see the media treating top 4 very differently.

The likes of Tottenham and Liverpool are now heavily praised for finishing top 4, without a trophy. It has become a barometer of success. Something to strive for.

Since Arsenal’s trophy drought began (2006), the pair have won 2 League Cups between them. Yet that is ignored in the press and their top 4 places are celebrated.

Give me a trophy, whether it is the League Cup, FA Cup or Europa League, over finishing top 4 any day of the week.

And tomorrow we have a chance to progress in the FA Cup against Manchester United.

With the race for top 4 hotting up – 7 points separate 3rd and 6th, it would be easy for Unai Emery to rotate the squad tomorrow and play a B team. He has refrain from doing so an put out the strongest team possible. Progression is key.

We do not play another game until Tuesday, that is a 3 day rest. We play Cardiff at home.

Whilst no games in the Premier League are a “gimmy”, a game at home to Cardiff who have won just once away in the league all season is a much easier fixture than Manchester United in the FA Cup.

If needs be, against Cardiff, rest a couple of players. But do not do it in the FA Cup.

In other news, the “will he won’t he” transfer saga of Denis Suarez rumbles on. Will he sign? Won’t he sign? Do I care?

We also had some glorious clickbait journalism yesterday:

Both articles were about Emiliano Martinez joining Reading on loan for the rest of the season…

Enjoy your Thursday and Up The Arsenal.

Keenos

Match Report: Blackpool 0 – 3 Arsenal

Blackpool (0) 0 Arsenal (2) 3
FA Cup Third Round
Bloomfield Road, Seasiders Way, Blackpool FY1 6JJ
Saturday, 5th January 2019. Kick-off time: 5.30pm
(4-2-3-1) Čech; Jenkinson, Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, Kolašinac; Ramsey, Elneny; Willock, Maitland-Niles; Iwobi; Nketiah.
Substitutes: Lacazette, Torreira, Martínez, Guendouzi, Medley, Smith-Rowe, Saka.
Scorers: Willock (2), Iwobi
Yellow Cards: Kolašinac
Referee: Mike Dean
Attendance: 8,895
Back to where we were, then. Another meeting with The Seasiders, on this, the second occasion that we have met in nine weeks; of course today we are meeting at Bloomfield Road, the first time that we have played there since our 3-0 victory in the Premier League on 11th April 2011, when goals from Abou Diaby, Emmanuel Eboue and Robin van Persie ensured our win. Let’s hope for a similar result on this freezing cold Lancastrian evening. We fulfilled our ticket allocation of 5,200 supporters for this game, but sadly due to an ongoing dispute between Blackpool fans and the owner, Bloomfield Road was only just over half full for the match tonight.
Still, in the opening stages, the home side were unlucky not to score when an error by Stephan Lichtsteiner almost led to us being punished, and had it not been for Petr Čech, it could have been disastrous. After ten minutes, a superb free-kick by Aaron Ramsey (can this man really be leaving the club?) saw Joe Willock score his second goal of the season when he headed the ball into the net from the rebound that struck the upright, which appeared to calm the nerves somewhat. A few minutes later, Carl Jenkinson was desperately unlucky not to score with a header from a chip by Alex Iwobi after some penetrating moves by our midfielders. The match now started to pep up with Blackpool finding their way through our defence on several occasions. However, just seven minutes before half-time, Carl Jenkinson pushed a long ball to Alex Iwobi, who passed it back to him on the overlap; Carl Jenkinson crossed the ball to Eddie Nketiah who flicked it on across the face of the goal for young Joe Willock to score his second (and Arsenal’s) of the day. And so we went into the break two clear goals ahead.
New half, new challenges. Blackpool started to test Arsenal’s defence and on several occasions were unlucky not to score. Arsenal started to look sluggish until Alexandre Lacazette replaced Eddie Nketiah after 65 minutes, and it almost seemed as if he single-handedly changed the approach and the attitude of the team as soon as he stepped onto the pitch. With one of our two top strikers on the field, we now started to look confident and assertive, something that we hadn’t done a few minutes earlier. Despite all this, Blackpool too had their chances, and should have taken them better under the circumstances. On one of our breakouts (of which there were many) we managed to get behind their defence and score. Ten minutes before the final whistle, Aaron Ramsey’s shot was parried by the Blackpool goalkeeper, only for the ball to fall into the path of Alex Iwobi, who coolly tapped it into the net. Mr. Emery made two more substitutions (Zech Medley and Bukayo Saka for Sead Kolašinac and Alex Iwobi) within minutes of each other, just to rescue tired legs; as soon as they started to get used to the pace of the match, Mike Dean blew the whistle after four minutes of injury time, and we were now in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Thank God that’s over.
Despite our obvious superiority in all areas, we still had the ability (somehow) to look vulnerable, particularly in the defensive area. No disrespect intended to Blackpool, but there were times when we had to count ourselves very lucky that the home side missed their chances, as if we played a top Premiership side, we may not have been so lucky. All the reserves (and our youth players too) played their part well, and everyone looked good. But we still need defenders, desperately. Twenty-six days and counting until the end of the transfer window. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Steve

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.

https://twitter.com/shewore/status/1081172978480701440?s=21

Arsenal look to banish Ghost of Nottingham Forest

FA cup 3rd round day 2018. A year ago was when I hit my lowest point mentally as an Arsenal fan.

Walking back from The City Ground to Hooters despondent. The only thing to look forward to from the trip was wings, boobs and beers.

It was an awful performance. The first time since 1996 that The Arsenal had been knocked out of the FA Cup 3rd round. Lost 4-2.

Prior to that defeat, Arsenal had won just 2 of the last 7 league games. 5 wins and 2 draws. The away draw to WBA on New Years Ever especially sticks in my mind.

With just 3 away wins from 11 League games, it was becoming really hard to be motivated to go away, up and down the country, spending my well earned sterling.

Sitting there in Hooters after the game, I was wondering whether I wanted to do it anymore. Keep going away – I spend about £2,500 a year on away games; tickets, transport and drink.

Arsenal would stay in the gutter for some time. Just one more win away in the league on the last day of the season against Huddersfield. It was the shocking second half of the season that led to fans staying away, and ultimately led to Arsene Wenger leaving the club.

I renewed my season ticket, renewed my away scheme, and this year under Unai Emery felt more invigorated to go again.

It has not been plain sailing under the new regime.

There has been a recent wobble in December – the loss to Southampton, thrashing by Liverpool and defeat in the League Cup to Tottenham – but as a whole the Spaniards start has been positive.

FA Cup victories (3 wins in the last 5) have been the only cause of glory for Arsenal fans in the last 12 years. It is probably why that Nottingham Forest defeat hurt so much.

After so much recent success (and historical success) in the tournament, to be exiting in January gave little to hope for in the rest of the season. It was the first of many killer blows.

Today we travel to Blackpool. Due to the trains I am not making the journey (so soon after Christmas and New Year, I have no interest in a hotel stay in cold, wet Blackpool).

Having beaten Blackpool already once this season, hopefully we return to winning ways in the FA Cup.

As we learnt against Nottingham Forest last season, you can not take victory for granted. Even if Amazing Bet are offering 1/14 for The Arsenal to qualify. But I am positive. Both about today and where Arsenal are going.

Fans need to ignore what is happening in the background at the club. We might not look to spend a lot in January. We are looking for the right players at the right place. We do not need to panic buy. We could have over £100m to spend this summer, once we sell one or two, it is important we do not dip into that for a 6 month short term solution.

I expect Emery to ring in the changes. A mixture of first teamers and reserve players. The likes of Konstantinos Mavropanos  will get a start. Eddie Nketiah up top.

Predicted XI:

Cech

AMN Sokratis Mavropanos Jenkinson

Elneny Torreira

SmithRowe Ramsey Saka

Nketiah

Keenos