FA Cup win 2014 – A Canadian Celebration

May 23, 2014

The Game is still to be played………..

The Cup is still to be raised……….

The Story is still to be written………..

 

The game has now been played the Cup has been raised and here is GunnerN5’s story -

At 8:00 a m on May 17, 2014 GunnerN5, JnrGunnerN5 and Mrs. GN5 left London Ontario for the 2.5 hour drive to The Mad Hatter in Mississauga Ontario, we dropped Mrs. GN5 off at a friends house on the way. JnrGN5 was supposed to be the driver but he was still exhausted after attending a junior hockey cup play off game on Friday evening and partying into the early hours of Saturday morning, but at least he picked us up on time. Anyway GN5 ended up being the driver and was accompanied on the journey by snoring from both Mrs.GN5 and JnrGN5, which they both adamantly deny.

We arrived early expecting a full house but to our pleasant surprise we were the first to arrive and they let us in even though the pub would not officially open for another 45 minutes.

GN5 Before FA Cup (1)

We picked the best table, with an unrestricted view of the TV and saved a spot for neamman, who was meeting us there. The Mad Hatter is not a big pub and is only licensed to hold 180 people but on big game days the pub overflows.

GN5 at Mad Hatter

Arsenal doesn’t command a huge amount of supporter’s in Mississauga but they are a loyal, loud and passionate group and by the time the game kicked off our section was full, so arriving early really helped. Suffice to say that we were all left stunned after 9 minutes, going down 2-0 was totally unexpected and quite shocking, but we felt that by Hull getting their goals early left us with more than a fighting chance of getting back into the game. Sheer pandemonium broke out after Santi’s incredible goal from his laser guided free kick and our undying faith in the team was being justified.  GN5 was drinking alcohol for the first time in two months and the effect of the red wine was enhanced by the goal, so I ordered another carafe.

Arsene made a critical substitution by bringing on Sanago for Podolski, changing to a 4-4-2 system which caused Hull’s 3 center backs trouble for the first time in the game but the tying goal was still elusive. At the 71st minute Laurent Koscielny managed to make the noise level (after Santi’s goal) seem quiet, as this time I felt the noise reverberating off of the ceiling and I desperately wanted to hear that noise just one more time – I ordered another carafe of red wine.

When extra time started my instinct told me that there would only be one winner as the calmness of our manager and the resolve in our team would prevail, however I still felt a tinge of apprehension. Arsene made two more astute substitutions by bringing on Jack Wishere and Tomas Rosicky their combined energy and inventiveness created havoc in the Hull defence.

However, it was left to Aaron Ramsey – who left Wembley in tears as a schoolboy following defeat with Cardiff in the 2008 final against Portsmouth – to complete a remarkable turnaround, when from the edge of the box, he crashed home a smart back heel from Olivier Giroud on 109 minutes. Our Welsh wonder boy turned my apprehension into euphoria and the Pub simply exploded into unadulterated elation and everybody went insane, the noise level was deafening, the singing was loud and it seemed to last an eternity.

GN5 Arsenal win FA Cup

GN5 has not felt this good about a FA Cup victory since Alan Sunderland slid in the winner against Manchester United in the 1979 Cup Final. The wine and the team had cast a magic spell over GN5 and I was too deep into my trance to be the driver on return trip – and long may the trance last….

Arsene lifting fa cup

 

Arsene getting tossed

 We are The Arsenal – who are we? – We are The Arsenal

Finally lets have a look a bit further back in our history and look at Arsene Wenger. He has won an incredible 5 out of 6 of his FA CUP FINALS – we are simply blessed to have him as our manager and history will eventually silence his critics.

We are The Arsenal – who are we? – We are The Arsenal

 

Written by GunnerN5

 


North London is Red ……… The Parade

May 19, 2014

Waking up on Sunday was accompanied with a warm fuzzy feeling that something momentous had happened the day before. Well that’s what my head, stomach and less mentionable parts were telling me anyway. Winning at the new Wembley was done, the monkey was off the back, as Lukas would say and all that was left of an up and down but ultimately successful Arsenal FC season was to watch North London turn into a sea of red.

Getting the tube at Oakwood was similar to a matchday except for the large numbers of children and women present in the travellers. Smiles and “‘superb, we’ve finally done it” comments were the order of the day. With the sun beaming down on the righteous and nobody wearing a coat, all you could see were Arsenal tops of every description and age. A less-than-happy hammer in claret and blue looked decidedly out of place in our tube car.

The plan was to head to the South bridge at the stadium and see the start of the parade, then walk down to Islington Town Hall. The Drayton Park was flying a flag which looked as though it may have been one of the originals flown at Highbury and the chap in the ‘Anfield’ top started some rather rumbustious singing from his privileged vantage point.

parade 1

 

The sight of a green dinosaur leading the convoy across the South bridge is one that will stick with me forever. The huge number of children in the crowd must have loved it. Sticking through the sunroof like some sort of Jurassic pope, the chap inside must have finished the boiling hot day about a stone lighter.

parade 22

 

The brand new trophy was glinting in the glorious May sunshine and the players’ faces still showed both the happiness and the relief of the day before.

parade 3

So with the bus heading towards Aubert Park, we set off for Upper Street. Even walking along back roads, every single street had red, white and yellow shirts on display. Time for a quick road beer and we kept a bag around our cans though this was probably unnecessary as the no street-drinking ban was not being enforced. At Highbury corner we hit the start of the huge crowd and progress became slow. Cutting away from the main drag towards Liverpool Road and heading south seemed a good plan, but even this was unfruitful. I imagine a limit had been reached for the Town Hall square, side roads were blocked by the police and no access was to be had.

So we decided to cut our losses and head back to the Armoury in the hope of bagging a decent view. We timed it superbly and managed to get in the shade over by the Little Wonder cafe at Bear Island. Men, women and children stood for hours in searing heat in the hope of seeing their heroes. They showed some highlights on the big screen and each goal was greeted with rapturous scenes and the player’s names sung.

parade 4

Luckily the parade seemed ahead of schedule and the expectant throng were soon rewarded with the joyous return of the bus and players. They were introduced in number order with Szcz leading the way. Both him and the BFG are so exuberant in their celebrations it’s obvious they love being Arsenal fans as well as players.

Tommy, Arsene and the cup were greeted with the biggest cheer of the day. Arsene holding the trophy above his head had the air of a man who was so thankful that integrity and sticking to one’s beliefs could finally be rewarded. Other specialists in spending vast fortunes for short term profit please take note.

parade 5

 

The players took it in turns to grab the microphone and lead the singing. “It’s Happened Again” and Jack’s “What do you think of Tottenham?” reminded our N17 neighbours that that shadow is mighty long.

It was a truly glorious day and North London is most definitely as red as red could be.

 “Written” by chas.


She Wore.

May 17, 2014

There are signs up in Islington warning about traffic disruption for the Arsenal Victory parade on Sunday – I don’t like it. We fans know that there is many a slip twix’t the Cup and the Lip :-D

But today is a day to rejoice; a day when we can enjoy the pre-match excitement until the kick-off and a day to hail the efforts of our great team to bring us to Wembley. After kick-off is another matter entirely. For BR it will be an afternoon of prayer and working out which of my family can be sacrificed to ensure victory. Needs must.

Let’s be honest, if this was a league game at The Emirates against a depleted Hull, we would be confident – make that very confident – it is just that the game is at New Wembley (where we have yet to win in 90 mins) and is hugely important to the fans and the team. And most importantly we have screwed up these games before. Lack of bottle? Poor tactics? An inherent weakness in recent Wenger teams? Who knows – all I know is I still feel the pain of our last Wembley disaster.

images

He wore, he wore …

Another chap who probably squirms at the word Wembley is young Szczesny, which brings us nicely onto the first of our selection considerations. TPIG 1 or TPIG 2? Does Mr Wenger reward Fabainski’s work over the years he has been at the club or does he give his first choice keeper the shirt knowing he will be here next season? Both will do the job, both are excellent keepers. To me this is a head or heart question. Head = Chesney, heart = Fab. Given how pragmatic Wenger is it would not surpass me to see Fabianski on the bench, but I really hope he gets picked because without his heroics in the semi-final penalty shoot out, we wouldn’t be there (though TPIG 1 is an excellent penalty stopper).

Given this is likely to be a midfield battle should Flamini play? Huddlestone is a big unit and probability Hull’s best player. Can our lightweight MF’s cope?

Sanogo? He has started games in the cup matches and even in the Champions League. I know – no chance!!

If we win and Vermaelen is not on the pitch, should he go up to pick up the Cup? Terry did. Or will it be Arteta?

In reality the team picks itself. Had JW made an early recovery from injury he may have had a shout as a starter but he didn’t.

My Team:

fa c 2

I would love there to be space for Rosicky, JW, Ox and TV but sadly they will be riding the pine. This team is our best eleven at the moment and has easily enough skill, power and above all imagination to beat Hull.

I suppose I should write a little about Hull. Trouble is I wrote about them just a couple of weeks ago and although I am sure you have forgotten all of my post it is just repetition.

What is for certain is that the Hull team will be bursting lungs, arteries, muscles and blood vessels to beat Arsenal today. Imagine saying to your children “this is my FA Cup Winners medal” – how fantastic must that be? Certainly better than “We got to play at Wembley but got beaten and this is my Loser’s medal”.

Squishy Nose Bruce will be saying the undeniable “It is just eleven vs eleven and if you want it enough you will win”. He is right except our heroes also are better players. Hull’s best chance is to battle and harry, to “get in our faces”.  They have the players to do so.

How do you think the game will develop? I am hoping to be three up at half-time, Didit will be looking for a last minute of extra time winner (he is a young man with a strong heart). Whatever happens I want us to win – I would love us to do so with brio and Wengerball but I would take a scrappy own goal and a poor display – as long as we win.

Prediction: Podolski or Cazorla will score a screamer from the edge of the area and if Ramsey plays well we will win – there I’ve said it and put a bok on the lads. They are likely to play terribly :-(

Like the vast majority I will be watching this at home, bereft and sad that I am not with my heroes. I wasn’t there in Paris for the CL Final, I wasn’t there for the Birmingham caper,  I wasn’t there for the FAC Final losses to West Ham or Ipswich. My point being that my non-appearance at a final can be costly, in other words …. does anyone have a spare?  I can fly over as long as I have a few hours notice!

That said I wasn’t there for the ’71 double win against Liverpool and I was in Paris for the “Nayim” loss – so they aren’t all bad portents for this afternoon.

To those lucky blighters who have tickets, Big Raddy and the entire Arsenal world wish you a fantastic day.

Today is 6 weeks since our good friend and great Gunner DanDan died.  Wouldn’t be a fitting end to his final season if Arsenal won the Cup? Let it be So ……

COYRR Gunners

written by Big Raddy


Is Arsène a closet Trophy Hunter?

May 14, 2014

The most successful man I know is called Adam. He is very far from the wealthiest man I know. He has what I call a Cottage Industry and this business provides him with exactly the income he wants. He is one of the world’s leading experts in his field. He happens to makes a particular type of classical music instrument. He designed and made himself the machines that do the boring repetitive stuff, which operate on compressed air, thus enabling himself and his three employees to listen to the music they love whilst at work.

He happens to be one of the most amusing and intelligent people I know, but, and it’s a big but, he thinks the world is run by reptilian aliens. This brings me on nicely to people who are bonkers.

Some think Arsène lacks ambition, and that finishing fourth is the sum total of his aspirations.

For a moment, and for the sake of this article, I am going to make one assumption. Arsène is staying for two more years, and that’s it (I don’t happen to believe any such thing is set in stone, but hey, what do I know).

So, call me a nutter, but I believe Arsène would love to go out on a high, and that he’d like nothing more than another Premier League Title, with a Champions League Crown to top things off.

Therefore, my question is this. According to my two year assumption, he effectively has just two more summer transfer windows remaining, so will this alter the way he views his transfer strategy?

The “Arsenal Way” is in essence to run a football club for the long term. To ensure that we don’t sacrifice the long term for short term gain. This is not Party Politics, this is ensuring The Arsenal will be at the top of the game for future generations of Gunners. It’s always been a case of Club before Ego, and that present Owners, Staff and Managers are merely temporary “keepers” of an institution and way of life.

Right, back to Arsène.  Might he be thinking along these lines?

“I have managed responsibility. I have put The Club and future generations first, while sacrificing personal glory, but I’ve got two years left. You know what, I’m going to Chav Up, and buy some bling. I deserve it, and I’m not sure my bosses will even realize it. I’m going to buy a couple of over age big wigs with no resale value whatsoever. I’m going to make a whopping great loss on these boys, but they will power me to glory. Whoa ha ha ha”.

“Go Arsène”, I say. We have solid foundations, and the future’s bright and stable. It’s your turn now. Enjoy.

Written by MickyDidIt


1936 and Arsenal win their 2nd FA Cup

April 18, 2014

It’s April 25th 1936 and Arsenal return to Wembley to face Sheffield United in their fourth FA Cup Final in nine years. Previously they lost 1- 0 to Cardiff City in 1927, won their 1st FA Cup in 1930, by beating Huddersfield Town 2-0, and then lost to Newcastle United 2-1 in 1932. Having won their first League Championship in 1930 and then again in three consecutive seasons from 1933 to 1935 they were now looking to add a second FA Cup to their 1930’s trophy collection. Herbert Chapman had died, suddenly, two years before and David Jack had hung up his boots. George Allison who was BBC Radio’s first football commentator, was now the new Arsenal manager. The attack was led by the formidable Ted Drake, who earlier in the season had scored seven goals against Aston Villa.

1936 FA Cup Final

1936finalkickoff

Harry Hooper of Sheffield United and Alex James of Arsenal shake hands at the start of the match.

The 1936 FA Cup Final was the sixty fourth and the fourteenth at the national stadium. Each team received a bye to the third round of the tournament, and then progressed through five rounds before reaching the final.

blast 10 1
Both Arsenal and Sheffield United were seeded into the third round of the FA Cup. In the third round itself, Arsenal was drawn away against Third Division South, Bristol Rovers Arsenal missed a penalty, and the third Division team went a goal up in the first half; Arsenal were playing so poorly that it seemed they would struggle even for a draw. The turnaround in the match occurred when manager George Allison moved Cliff Bastin to the inside left position. Arsenal equalized in the 65th minute, and scored a further four times over the course of the following fourteen minutes to win the game by five goals to one, with a single goal from Bowden and two each from Ted Drake and Cliff Bastin.

They followed this in the fourth round with a 2–0 victory over Liverpool Anfield. The match was played seven days after the death of King George V, with both teams wearing black armbands. The crowd of 60,000 stood to sing Abide by Me and God Save the King before the kickoff. In the fifth round they were drawn against Newcastle United, in a rematch of the 1932 final Newcastle had already knocked out the current cup holders, Sheffield Wednesday, in an earlier round. On the day, the gates to St James Park needed to be closed before the match started to keep additional spectators out, some 64,484 fans already being inside the ground. The match resulted in a 3-3 draw, Arsenal having gone a goal ahead each time, but Newcastle coming back and equalizing, in the replay at home, Arsenal won the game 3–0. They had gone a goal up in the first half from a penalty scored by Clifff Bastin after the Newcastle centre half handled the ball in the box. The second goal came during an advance by Arsenal, where the Newcastle goalkeeper, Norman Tapken, cleared the ball directly to Arsenal midfielder Pat Beasley, who promptly shot the ball into the back of an empty net. The final goal was another penalty, caused when Cliff Bastin was brought down in the box, who then took and scored the goal himself.

In their quarter final, they defeated Second Division Barnsley 4–1, having outplayed them right from the start, the first goal coming in the fourth minute from Pat Beasley in an attacking move. Bowden scored the second goal, and the third came from a penalty scored by Bastin. The fourth and final Arsenal goal was Beasley’s second, with Barnsley’s consolation goal coming a couple of minutes from the end of the match. In the semi final, played at Huddersfield Town’s ground, they defeated Grimsby Town 1–0 in a match that was described by reporters as completely one sided, with the goal coming from Bastin five minutes before half time.

Arsenal played in red and white shirts in an FA Cup final for the first time, on previous occasions in 1930 and 32 they wore fully red shirts. Additionally, before the 1967/68 season, Arsenal only wore team badges on their shirts on special occasions, such as FA Cup Finals. The 1936 cup final was the fourth occasion such a badge was worn.

150px-Arsenal_Crest_1936.svg The following is a match report that was taken from the Daily Telegraph
DRAKES GOAL WINS CUP FOR ARSENAL
SHEFFIELD UNITED NEARLY WIN MATCH
Drama of Dodds Header That Hit Post *
A Champagne Shampoo
By Frank Coles

Arsenal are Cup holders again for the second time in six years As expected, they beat Sheffield United in Wembley’s fourteenth Final Tie, but not as comfortably as 2-to-1-on favourites are supposed to win .
The honours of a match which rarely produced a high standard of play should go to Sheffield United, whose defence held out for an hour and a quarter and who twice narrowly missed taking the lead before Drake scored.

In winning the Cup for Arsenal at the 29th minute of the second half, Drake accepted the only scoring chance that came his way The opening was made by Bastin, who tricked Hooper very cleverly before pushing the ball squarely across to his unmarked centre-forward.

It was the kind of opportunity Drake had been waiting for all the afternoon and, quick as thought, he swung his left leg at the ball Before Smith, the goalkeeper, could move an inch a crashing drive had found the roof of the net.

Sheffield United could argue with justification that Bastin, might not have put Drake through if Hooper had not been handicapped by a leg injury They could also point to the fact that Jackson, playing immediately in front of Hooper, was also limping.

Drake’s goal gave new life to a game which for the greater part of the second half, had lapsed into a dull, humdrum affair, so lacking in quality and thrills that the 93,000 crowd was almost silent.

BAD LUCK FOR UNITED
However, a touch of genuine drama was to follow No sooner had United set the ball rolling again than Barton streaked past Hapgood and swung over a beautifully accurate centre Dodds, pounding down the middle, got his head to the ball and a thrilled crowd yelled “Goal!

But no, the ball hit the crossbar with a bang instead of going into the net, terribly bad luck for United. They had struck back gallantly, and for practically the first time Arsenal’s magnificent defence was shaken The movement, swift and sudden skilfully executed was a reminder of what had happened in the opening quarter of an hour, and it set me wondering why United did not exploit their five-men-up attack more often. As I had prophesied, United were an extremely dangerous team in the first 15 minutes because they were willing to gamble on attack They threw the last ounce into a grand assault on Arsenal’s goal and, as early as the third minute, nearly succeeded

BRILLIANT DEFENDERS
For 20 minutes United had Arsenal’s defence at full stretch All this time Smith, in the United goal, was a spectator When, at length, he was called into action he ought to have been beaten; from Bastin’s pass Bowden had an easy scoring chance To the undisguised dismay of Drake, who was by his side, Bowden shot weakly outside the post.

This, Arsenal’s first rejoinder to United’s beginning gesture, marked the transfer of the initiative. Whereas Arsenal’s goalkeeper was untroubled for the remainder of the opening half, Smith became the busiest man on the field incidentally, he proved himself a first-class workman.

The half hour after the interval did not provide the onlookers with much excitement.

Fortunately, Drake’s goal and United’s bid to save the match made the last quarter of an hour worth while, but I am bound to say that as a spectacle this latest Final Tie disappointed me. The Sheffield forwards were unlucky. On their first Wembley appearance they met the most astute defence in the country And if they had shown a sign of wavering, United’s attack assuredly would have won the match.

Barclay and Pickering, the inside forwards, were a long way ahead of Bowden and James They tried mightily hard to draw a cast-iron defence by holding the ball, and their understanding with the wing men was excellent.

At outside right Barton was as effective as Hulme, without attempting to be as spectacular – he was always a worry to Hapgood – and, until he was slowed down by injury, Williams was dangerous, despite the fact that he was up against Male, the best back on the field.

The experience of Dodds was in one respect similar to that of Drake Both met master stoppers But Dodds was given a far better service than Drake received If his luck had been good he would have converted a flashing cross from Williams midway through the second half The pace of the ball just beat him

I have described Male as the outstanding back Second to him I rate Hooper, United’s captain, who had the difficult job of subduing Bastin. Johnson, the centre-half, also played a great game.

Arsenal – Wilson, Male, Hapgood, Crayston, Roberts, Copping, Hulme, Bowden, Drake, James (Captain), Bastin

Sheffield United – Smith, J, Hooper (Captain), Wilkinson, Jackson Johnson, McPherson, Barton, Barclay, Dodds, Pickering, Williams

Referee H Nattrass (Durham) Linesmen: J M Wiltshire (Dorset) and Dr A W Barton (Amateur FA.)
Attendance 93.384

ted drakes winning goal
Ted Drake’s winning goal.

It was Arsenal’s sixth success in League and Cup in seven seasons but their triumph did not get the deserved news coverage. A dispute over terms between Wembley and the news reel companies led to the ban on film cameramen inside the stadium. The companies still took to the air and shortly before kick off a whirl of auto-giros rose above Wembley. The only film taken inside the ground was an official one.

alex james

Alex James holding the 1936 FA Cup.

GunnerN5


Depressed of N5…

April 14, 2014

I remember the day we beat Wolverhampton Wanderers to earn our place in the 1979 FA Cup Final.

As an impoverished student at the time (well, alright, I’d spent my grant on alcohol) I couldn’t afford to go to the semi final at Villa Park and had to rely on radio coverage. Goals from Alan Sunderland and Frank Stapleton were enough to get us to Wembley.

When the radio commentator said the final whistle had gone I was a walking bundle of clichés: over the moon, cock-a-hoop, on cloud nine, walking on air, happy as Larry when Larry has just won the lottery and landed a date with Joanna Lumley (it was the 1970s, remember)…

But my reaction wasn’t unusual. Every single Arsenal supporter – and I really mean EVERY Arsenal supporter – was absolutely thrilled that we had made it to the Cup Final.

In those days before email and mobile phones we called each other up, met in pubs to celebrate and generally annoyed the hell out of anyone who wasn’t fortunate enough to be a Gunner.

The fact that we had beaten lowly, relegation-battling Wolves to get to the final didn’t come into it. Nor that our league form that season was average at best (we ended up finishing seventh).

The point was, we had landed a big day out at Wembley and the chance to claim silverware and glory.

The only emotion throughout N5 and the Arsenal supporting world was one of joy.

You can probably see where I am going with this.

After the drama of our penalty shoot-out victory over Wigan on Saturday most of the Arsenal community shared a similar feeling of joy.

But a significant minority of people who call themselves Arsenal fans were not delighted. In fact they were as undelighted as a man who inadvertently steps in doggie doodoo… only to realise he forgot to put on his shoes and socks that morning.

They grudgingly acknowledged that it was a good thing to be in the FA Cup final, but what they really wanted to talk about was the fact that (a) our performance in the semi final had been awful or (b) it was “only Wigan” and we should have rolled over them without a problem or (c) that the FA Cup isn’t really a “top rank” trophy like the league title or the European Champions League or (d) “it’s a disaster because now it means Wenger will probably stay”.

Without getting into the merits of points A, B, C and D, surely what is important is that we have a Cup Final to look forward to and a real chance to win our first trophy for nine years?

How anyone who self-identifies as an Arsenal supporter cannot find joy in that fact is completely and utterly beyond me.

But it may not be beyond the explanation of psychology.

Joylessness is a recognised indicator and symptom of depression. It literally means the inability to experience joy in situations where you would normally expect to do so.

For example, someone who normally loves beautiful scenery would, when in a joyless state, be left completely unmoved by a particularly stunning vista. Their mind may even tell them that it is a stunning vista and that they should be feeling overjoyed to look on it, but their soul is not touched by that joy.

Even people suffering from mild depression will often experience the phenomenon.

The sad conclusion of this train of thought is that a section of the Arsenal fan base is clinically depressed. They have become so accustomed to negative thought patterns that when something unequivocally positive happens they just can’t feel it.

The rest of us should not be angry with them: we should feel sorry for them.

Fortunately, there are some very well proven treatments for mild depression. They include exercise, eating whole grain food and meditating. So if you know a fellow fan who has been sullen and unresponsive since we defeated Wigan, why don’t you suggest they do the following: put on a pair of trainers; jog to Greggs; buy a whole grain sandwich; silently contemplate it for twenty minutes; then scoff it.

I guarantee if they do all of the above, before the last bite has slipped down their gullet they’ll leap into the air and break into a rendition of: “Wemberley, Wemberley, we’re the famous Arsenal and we’re going to Wemberley…”

And if that doesn’t work, just give them a hug.

RockyLives

* Despite missing out on the 1979 semi-final, I managed to get to Wembley for the final against Manchester United thanks to a United supporting friend from Dublin. It was the Liam Brady final and it produced memories I treasure to this day. Now we have another chance for more great Cup Final memories. How can anyone not be excited by that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Wembley Domination

April 13, 2014

Having just woken up at 8am having arrived home at 1:30 am this is going to be a quickie. Getting the train home last night with intoxicated Norwich fans singing “we’re shit and we’re going down” certainly adds some perspective to a day out at Wembley where yes we didn’t play well but also resulted in a return trip and another day out for those lucky enough to be there.

I have seen some criticism of the fans “celebrating like we won the cup” it’s hard to be in Wembley and not feel like that, and with the allocation of tickets for the final likely to be a third of what we had yesterday it is unlikely those who were there yesterday will have a chance of being back for the final itself.

We filled the Green Man pub at 1pm and we filled the ground more than two thirds. Waning support? Not in evidence here. The atmosphere at kick off was full of passion and hope.

Unfortunately as we failed to make the most of early possession the songs turned to frustration and worse very quickly, I’d say the split was 50:50 in terms of those preferring to man than support.

At half time we went in 0-0 with little of note being created for either side.

The second half continued in a similar vein until Monreal got pushed off the ball, Vermaelen didn’t want to commit to a last gasp tackle and BFG stuck out a long leg to bring down the Wigan forward. This actually stirred the crowd into action and we sang in defiance up until the penalty went in and Gibbs replaced Monreal.

That was actually the turning point to our performance Gibbs was prepared to get past Podolski where Monreal hadn’t bothered either because he knew he didn’t have the legs to get back to recover ground that Podolski wouldn’t.

A while later after Rosler went to three centre backs Arsene changed it again, unleashing Giroud and removing the disappointing Podolski and switching to 4-4-2.

That was probably the decisive change we played the percentages more and after a few more close shaves we finally breached the Wigan defence, Oxhitting the ball into the ground and finding BFG at the far post who headed home. I was waiting for the flag to go up thankfully it didn’t.

BFG celebrates

We couldn’t breach it again in the remaining minutes or in extra time and we went to penalties.

Fabianski the hero

Fabianski channelling the spirit of Arsenal keepers of the past stopped the first two Wigan penalties. Whilst Arteta and Kallstrom dispatched with ease. The next two Wigan penalties, were scored which meant after Giroud had scored with the nanananaaaaas ringing in his ears it was left to Santi to send Arsenal back to Wembley and the fans into ecstasy.

Written by Gooner in Exile


We Are Family

April 12, 2014

I am not a fan of the term “must win game” which we have heard so often (including tomorrow’s “title decider” -as if!) but today really is a must win. No excuses, no silly mistakes, nothing but victory is acceptable.

We need silverware to bring the club back to the fans. The bitching from the Me Generation who have grown up with the ludicrous premise that “second is losing” demand a Cup and Arsenal have an excellent chance to keep them quiet for a while.

I know Wigan have done wonders recently and that they are New Wembley winners far more times than us (have we won there?), but they sit a division below us. There will be no excuses for a loss.

I have to say I am nervous, Arsenal, of late, have a habit of falling over in sight of the winning post, the Koscielny/Szczesny comedy routine remains fresh in the memory, so I do not take anything for granted.

images

Brilliant but Once is Enough

Wigan are nailed on to reach the play-offs. They are a good side playing attacking, pressing football so well that their victory at Maine Rd was well deserved – it was no fluke victory, they took on an over-confident City and beat them fair and square. They have been resting their players ahead of today’s match.

Managed by Uwe Rusler who appears to be a fine successor to Martinez, a good organiser and a man who may have a fine future as a manager. He has beaten lung cancer which shows he is a fighter. Rusler managed 3 teams in Norway before joining Brentford, before taking over from Owen Coyle at Wigan. Under Rusler’s management Wigan have only lost 5 of 29 games.

One fact to settle the nerves. In 20 matches between the clubs, Wigan have won 3.

Arsenal continue to struggle with both form and injuries.  Writing on Friday, we are missing Gibbs, Koscielny, Ox, Wilshere, Ozil, Walcott, Myachi, Gnabry, Flamini (banned) and most recently Rosicky. 10 players plus Diaby – it is amazing we have a team to put out!! However, we are still able to send out 10 Internationals (Arteta) and they should be good enough to beat Wigan – maybe not a rampant Everton but …..

My Team – (prior to final fitness tests and assuming none pass)

fa cup semi

Hopefully we will have some bodies back – if not Steve Bould will have to be on the bench!

The fans will be really up for it today, well over half the ground will be Arsenal, and it will be a sea of red. Anything which brings the fans together can only help the players perform. We are the 12th man.

I am so envious of this going today. There is nothing like walking down Olympic Way  in the sun surrounded by thousands of fellow Gooners all excited and half-cut with the awful smell of dodgy burgers in the air.  The memories of those afternoons will be with me always and when I am stuck in a dentist’s chair or sitting disconsolate having missed a plane I have them to fall back upon. That is the wonder of fandom – those weirdo’s who look askance at us when we say we love football don’t have that, do they?

Will we win? Who knows? It all depends upon which Arsenal turn up today. In my opinion, if we revert to sitting deep early doors and getting to half-time at 0-0, which is a tactic Mr Wenger has employed each game following a nasty defeat, then we will not be the Arsenal I know and love. I want us to go at Wigan from the first whistle, pin them back, pepper their goal with shots from all angles, bemuse their defenders with our sumptuous passing game and score at least 3 by half-time. Wouldn’t that be great?

I will be wearing red today, I suggest you do the same – after all as the mighty Sister Sledge/Chic say “We are Family”

written by Big Raddy


Oh No!! We’re Favourites…

March 10, 2014

I don’t know about you but as an Arsenal fan of many years (not as many as some who frequent AA) I like it when we are underdogs. In fact some of my best memories supporting Arsenal and winning trophies have come when we were not expected to win, or facing the impossible task.

The first trophy I watched us win was the ’87 Littlewoods Cup, up against the all conquering Liverpool of the 80’s we had not seen a glimpse of silverware since our last FA Cup win in 1979. We went to Wembley with some optimism as George Graham had arrived to revolutionise the Arsenal team, clearing out the old guard and bringing through young talent and supplementing with purchases he had made from the lower leagues, players that were to go on to become club legends. The job was made more difficult when Liverpool took the lead, the fact that Ian Rush had now scored meant that we were now deep into underdog territory, as we all know from the commentary, up until that point Liverpool had never lost a game when Rush had scored. But Charlie changed all that, firstly knocking in when the ball bobbled around the box, and then Perry Groves came on with his pace, skinned the Liverpool fullback who was tiring and teed up Charlie to score the winner.

Then there was that Friday night at Anfield, going to Liverpool with the task of winning by two clear goals, again the stats were against us, Liverpool had just won the FA Cup, they hadn’t lost by two goals at Anfield for over three years. Smudger nodded in a Winterburn free kick, and then we had to wait wait and wait until…well you all know what happened next….Thomas charging through the midfield….it’s up for grabs now. I smashed a light in my living room having jumped high from my armchair. Arsenal heaven.

Was that it for being underdogs? Not really, the English FA hated that we were getting successful again so deducted 2 points and Manchester United only 1 for a 21 man brawl at Old Trafford (Big Dave didn’t like getting dirty or a hair out of place unless it was absolutely necessary and stayed out of it), somehow on the day Nige and the Super Swede got booked for having the temerity to be kicked whilst on the ground by Mclair and Irwin who suffered no punishment from Hackett, and the latter punishment of points deduction probably started our dislike of the FA and theory that we don’t always receive the rub of the green from the officials. Anyway come May we were telling the trophy presentation committee to stick the f’ing two points up their arse, as Manchester United players had to applaud us on to the pitch with a guard of honour in the return fixture at Highbury after Nottingham Forest had ended Liverpool’s title chances earlier in the day.

And then maybe our most famous underdog win, George Graham’s side by 1993-94 had become a dour side to watch, route one football was the order of the day, we were now a long ball side, up to Smudger, get the knockdowns and let Wrighty do the rest. We were a cup team now, this style wouldn’t win any Leagues, the previous season we had won two cups, we were neither favourites nor underdogs, Sheffield Wednesday played a very similar style to us, so fans that attended made their own entertainment whilst the ball was in the air, and in the brief moments the ball actually touched the ground got interested. But Parma, well that was a mother proposition, made worse by the injury to John Jensen and Wrighty’s suspension, the media gave us no chance, Brolin, Zola and Asprilla all featured for Parma, whilst we had Selley, Morrow and Campbell in ours. But somehow Smudger scored probably his only goal from outside the area on his wrong peg in his career, and we held out for a triumphant 1-0 victory.

So what about when we were favourites?

Well I’ll do my lifetime:

League Cup
1988 – Arsenal 2 – Luton 3
2011 – Arsenal 1 – Birmingham 2

FA Cup
1980 – West Ham 1 – Arsenal 0
2001 – Arsenal 1 – Liverpool 2

So am I disappointed Wigan knocked Manchester City out yesterday……well as the draw had been made we were only going to be underdogs for the Semi Final so in the grand scheme of things I guess it doesn’t matter. But I hate being favourites…..can we talk up Wigan please, after all surely the holders are favourites?

Gooner in Exile


Arsenal get stuck into Toffees

March 9, 2014

A quarter final played on a Saturday against a very resolute and good team, always wets the appetite and the main talking point before the game was would Wenger put out his strongest team in a competition that in reality we have a good chance of winning or would he have one eye on the Bayern game to follow just three days later.

There were doubts about Koscielny who has been outstanding all season and his partnership with Mertesacker has usually a telepathic understanding that has been vital to us for most of the season

He wasn’t risked and Vermaelen stepped in and the biggest surprise, and not for the first time in such an important game, Sanogo was asked to lead the line.

We weren’t to be disappointed and the failure at The Britannia the week before was quickly forgotten. Cazorla and Ozil combined perfectly for Ozil with pin point accuracy gave us an early lead. It was an open game and then a rather messy goal by Lukaku nearing half time put Everton right back in the game.

The second half began and there was more resilience and fight by our boys and eventually the persistence payed off with Barry bringing down the excellent Oxlade-Chamberlain in the penalty box and Arteta had the dubious task of having to twice take the penalty awarded.

To me that was the pivotal moment in the game and after some astute substitutions, Giroud came on for Sanogo and scored a brace. The game was done and dusted…..

I make no excuse in naming three players as Man of the Match in fact everyone who played made a significant contribution.

Ozil for the vital first goal and the way he reads the game and put more effort in than lately, especially as he has been under the microscope.

ozil scored v everton

The Ox, as he caused problems all over the pitch, his enthusiasm, directness, and general play improves all the time, a real contender for the England squad but more importantly for us,hopefully for years to come.

Arteta under immense pressure having to take the penalty twice and restoring the lead gave us that extra impudence.

arteta pen everton

Others also played their part and I am sure you will add to my considerations.

Santi who with Ozil ran a good part of the game and was much better than recently and though he didn’t score he is always looking for an opportunity to shoot or play a decisive pass.
.
Vermaelen, hardly played all season, made one slip but generally had a very good game against stiff opposition.

Ollie had a rest, a couple of affairs :) and looked sharp.

Flamini, though prone to get carded always urges the players on.When Ozil scored and a few congratulated him he urged others to join in..

Sagna one assist and one assist to an assist, we would dearly miss him.

boss,per,rosicky

Everyone went home happy, not a day to be judgemental about those who didn’t play or who we should buy in the Summer, so may the momentum continue. Wembley here we come.

Written by kelsey


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