Tag Archives: the fa cup

Wenger get’s it right as Arsenal progress

Pre match, all the focus on team selection seemed to surround Sunderland and Sam Allardyce, with the fat walrus moaning to whoever would listen about the fixtures list. He made it clear early on that he would play a complete bunch of youngsters.

Throughout the build up, Arsenal seemed to be forgotten about. With a mid-week game away to Liverpool coming up, it had not really been discussed what changes Arsene Wenger would make.

On Twitter, the common consensus was that there would be whole sale changes, with everyone agreeing that we should rest the entire XI that would be likely to start against Liverpool. With Sunderland set to play the kids, Arsenal could surely afford to do so as well.

What happened with the team sheets came out was fairly surprising. Allaradyce had attempted to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes with his team selection.

Whilst it was by no means the strongest XI, and with a debutante in goal in the shape of 21 year old keeper Jordan Pickford, the outfield players were certainly not the kids that were threatened to be put out.

Regular starters John O’Shea, Patrick van Aanholt, Sebastian Coates, Jermain Lens, Steven Fletcher, Duncan Watmore and Lee Catermole all started. Only Billy Jones and Jermaine Defoe were missing from the regulars who had started most of this season.

Unlike most of Twitter, Arsene Wenger ignored what was coming out of the walruses mouth. He could have fallen into the trap and started the likes of Glen Kamara, Jeff & others. Instead, it was a strong line up with only one kid in the starting 11 – the impressive Alex Iwobi. Take him out (for maybe Aaron Ramsey) and it was a starting XI that you could see starting games in the Premier League.

Ever present Nacho Monreal was rested for Kieran Gibbs, and Mesut Ozil was given the rest everyone knew he would get, and needed. It was a side Wenger picked to win the game, no matter the players put out by Fat Sam. It was a strong side.

And it was the strength of the side, showing that Wenger does take the competition seriously – that saw us through. Despite going 1-0 down, and having a shaky moment when Steven Fletcher hit the bar when he really should have scored, Arsenal were never in trouble of going out,. It was a professional performance that you would expect from the quality of players put out by Wenger.

There were some outstanding performances that do deserve a mention.

Hector Bellerin, who could have been rested for Debuchy, showed once more that he is quickly becoming not just one of the best right backs in the Premier League, but one of the best in Europe. An international call up is surely on the horizon. A place in Spain’s Euro 2016 squad an outside bet.

He showed once again he is growing defensively, but it was his attacking that court the eye. Getting forward at every opportunity, putting in quality balls, and beating his opposing full back with ease. Were he a winger, we would be crowing about this performance. The fact he was at full back makes it ever more incredible.

And the vision and weight of the pass for Olivier Giroud’s goal was exceptional. Ozil-esque even. An ordinary player would have just smashed an aimless ball hard across the box, leaving the striker no chance to get on the end of it. Bellerin picked out Giroud with tremendous ease. And it actually makes you forget about his pass to Ramsey for the second. Again, a cool, calm pass where a lesser player would have smashed it.

It was also an impressive performance once more for Joel Campbell. His hunger and desire was there for all too see. He is still proving a lot of people, including myself, wrong. He is becoming an important squad player, growing with every game.

Where as in the summer we were looking to offload the Costa Rican, we must now be hoping that he signs a new contract, with his current one reportedly expiring at the end of this season. It would be interesting to see if he does get a new 4/5 year deal, if his hunger and desire remain, or once his future is secure, does he, like many others before, loose focus.

Calum Chambers also looked good in the holding midfield position. And both Iwobi and Jeff looked classy, showing that a Premier League loan deal till the end of the season might be beneficial for both’s future.

Overall, it was a solid performance by a solid side. Wenger got his team selection right, and we are into the hat for the 4th round draw.

The Double is still on.

Keenos

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The FA trying to destroy the magic of The FA Cup

For a long time, the press have speculated that the magic of the FA Cup is dying. With dwindling attendances across the country, sides putting out weakened teams and it being low on the list for teams chasing titles, teams chasing Champions League spots, teams trying to avoid relegation and teams trying to win promotion to the Premier League, it certainly does not have the razzmatazz that it had in yesteryear.

The FA Cup is a victim of modern football. As teams chase money rather than success, it becomes more important to be in the Champions League, or in the Premier League, than win the FA Cup.

Fans, however, think different. Ask Portsmouth fans, would they rather be in the Premier League still, or be where they are – League Two – with an FA Cup win in recent years. Ask the same to Wigan fans, would they prefer to have stayed up last year, and lost the FA Cup Final, or get relegated but be winners? I think the answers are obvious. When it comes to the fans, the magic is still there. The dream is still alive. Which is why the behaviour of the FA shockens me.

Whilst clubs do not care too much for the FA Cup anymore, and the media see it as an inconvenience – hence their continual writing down of the FA Cup – the fans still love it. It is still the brilliant old competition it always has been. It is still silverware. A chance for a party on the streets. The FA seem to be doing their best to destroy their own competition with their behaviour around the FA Cup Final.

Kick-off Time

Saturday 3pm, that is when the FA Cup should kick off. This gives enough time in the morning for fans throughout the country to get to the game, whilst time after the game to get home. However, in 2012, the FA decided to change the kick-off time to 5pm. The reasoning behind, as always, was to satisfy TV companies, who felt that a 5pm kick-off time would garner more viewers, both in the UK and abroad.

This shows a blatant disregard for the fans who are important, those in the stadium. The FA Cup is possibly a 3 hour event. Normal time, extra time, penalties and the trophy ceremony. With the 5pm kick-off time, fans have got to be prepared to still be in the stadium up until 8pm. It can then take over an hour to get back to Wembley Station, back to Kings Cross, to catch a train home to where the fans live.

If you were looking at train times, you would be crazy to book anything earlier than 9pm. The last train out of Kings Cross back to Hull is 9.35pm. This leaves little time for anything after the game. Fans of Hull will have to rush back to the station. No pint after the game. No celebrating too long in the stadium if they win. Rather then the FA Cup being an event, the FA, in a chase for TV revenue, are ruining it for the travelling fans.

Even at the semi-final, the Wigan fan pubs were empty as Wigan fans had to rush home to ensure they got a train. This is not right. A 3pm gives everyone enough time to relax after a game, go to a pub for a beer or 6, have a bite to eat, and still get home before Match of the Day starts.

Allocation

A lot has already been made about the ticketing allocation. For clubs to only get 25,000 each, whilst 17,000 go’s to ‘Club Wembley’ members and the rest to ‘the footballing family’ means a little over half of the stadium will be from clubs of both teams.

The problem here is that the tickets for the ‘football family’ will likely end up in touts hands. Tickets are already been sold by ‘legal touts’ such as holiday companies for twice their face value. Whilst I understand that the FA wants to share the final, the fact is that the tickets that do not go direct to the clubs will end up in the hands of fans, at considerably higher than face value. The FA are basically supporting touting.

Pricing

Tell me what is wrong with this picture:

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The FA are greedy. Whilst everyone agreed that the prices for the semi-final were reasonably priced, the prices for the final are not. I understand that it is a final, and prices will go up, but for them to increase by nearly 100% is disgraceful.

The FA are killing their own competition with greed. They have become part of the problem. Any romance still in the FA Cup is with the fans who go. It seems the FA want to erode this.

The FA, fuck you.

Keenos