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

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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.

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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.

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Alex James holding the 1936 FA Cup.

GunnerN5


What constitutes a good supporter?

April 17, 2014

Morning Gooner’s,

As the title says, what tells us who is a good supporter? Many will say that a supporter who turns up for all of their teams home games is a real supporter, or the away supporter who travels. As the word states he pays for his ticket, whereby he supports. Would you say that that person is a better supporter than perhaps an oversea’s supporter, who can only get to games when and if he visits the country, but he still see’s his or her team on the paid for television.

Many supporters, or should I say fans, cannot afford to go to matches let alone travel huge distances, so how do we tell who is the most loyal of fans? Just recently because of some of our results many supporters are questioning the Owner, Manager, or the players, nothing unusual about that when results are not going our way, But some supporters are saying that they are not getting what they pay for, and they want change in the club.

Whether that change is for new players or a new manager or even to the extreme of a new owner has often baffled me. Just recently I read a supporter say that if we lose to Everton he will sell his Wembley tickets, I like to think that was a light hearted statement but why say it in the first place.

Many season ticket holders are fond of telling us, that they have held their tickets for many years, and in some cases even their Fathers or Grandfathers before them, Now that is what I call following in tradition, but if you are not happy with what you see, then why keep punishing yourself.

A football club boasts about how many supporters they have stretched all over the world, our tours have shown us that they are trying to enter the Asian Market and even the American Market, why do they do that, when they know they cannot get to games, because of sales of shirts and satellite television, computers all helps to boost income.

Looking over some of the blog world, I see a lot of supporters unhappy, many go as far as to write derogatory comments about the owner Manager or the players. Many are demanding change. Many’s the time I have read that supporters will not renew their season tickets, if change does not come about, while others will tell you how much they pay and for how long, as if that is how to judge a supporter in their eyes.

Supporting a football club should come from within, its just a feeling that the club you have supported all your life, runs through your veins, good or bad you just cannot get that out of your system, but if you go and complain every time you go, perhaps you should not go.

I have seen supporters with their black scarves on wielding placards depicting what changes they would like to see, Many will tell you that the owner or Manager doesn’t know what they are doing. Many will say how long they have held tickets for, and how much they are paying, and how they expect so much more.

I would say to some of these supporters, that no matter how many tickets they pay for, or however long they have held them, that those tickets are only rented, they are actually owned by the owner, and that he lets you rent them.

The man they are complaining to, is the man that owns the lot, and if they believe that the amount they pay makes them a better supporter than one that goes occasionally, means very little. It makes you no better or worse than an oversea’s supporter or somebody not allowed to go by finance or illness.

I would urge unhappy supporters to relinquish their rented tickets, pack your black scarves in the drawer, and allow the waiting list supporter to go and support in the right way, after all,  no one will miss you after a while, and others can support the team, club, Manager, or Owner in peace. At the end of the day if you have a really bad meal in a restaurant, you moan but you don’t go back.

xpectation is very high for an Arsenal supporter, many believe that Arsenal’s Position should be higher than it is, many believe that our empty cabinet should be over flowing, but how many other teams in this league feel the same, look at the scramble for a top 4 places.

Its my belief that 17 years in Champions league, and presently 4th in the league with 6 games to go is no reason for change at Arsenal, but many supporters ideals are very different to mine, what’s yours?

Written by Steve Palmer


Wham Bang, thank you Arsenal.

April 16, 2014

What I want to know is this: exactly what happened in the dressing room at half time? Any ideas? Was it even legal?

The first half was one of those end of season games between two mid-table sides with nothing to play for. Only it shouldn’t have been. Sure, the odd bit of skill here and there, but generally looking more like twenty two footballers who had never met before.

So, the first half rumbled on until, and oh thank you West Ham, a goal, and then all change. Arsenal reacted, and no surprise it was Podolski who pulled us level. The Man can shoot accurately and hard.

Into the dressing room at 1-1. Now, I’ve never had Arsène down as a natural motivator, which is fine so long as you have natural leaders and fighters on the pitch and I’ve had my doubts that we do. I was beginning to believe the gutter press, particularly with regards to Santi, but he in particular, but also the entire side in general, were clearly introduced to each other at half time, and a new side emerged for the second forty five.

Energy, drive, understanding and desire was evident from the Arsenal XI.

In the fiftieth minute, Ollie climbed into DB10’s football boots, controlled the ball with the most exquisite of touches and buried the ball with a superb finish. Sheer quality. Twenty odd minutes later, and Podolski slammed home his second and Arsenal’s third. Job done.

At this stage of the season, and given the closeness of the battle for forth with Everton, it was always the points that most mattered, but the nature of the second half performance gave room for massive optimism.

Verm played a disciplined and excellent game, and the importance of quality in depth was further highlighted by the introduction of Aaron late in the game. With the likely return of Mesut for part of the run in, and of course my favourite Ox in the wings, I’d image we could be savouring some great performances as well as the necessary points.

Written by MickyDidIt

 

We have two posts today, here are kelsey’s thoughts on the game……….

 

Arsenal burst West Ham’s Bubble.

Many questions were asked before the game. Would the draining one hundred and twenty minutes on the Wembley turf would take its toll on our depleted squad with only three  days respite between the two games? Who would have recovered in time yet keeping a balance in the side?

Wenger decided to make five changes and in the end they were more than justified. Every game in the run in is a massive match and the jostling for fourth place might not see an outcome until the final day.

For the first half an hour apart from a glaring miss by Giroud, our play was nervous and generally lacked pace and a real threat, then invariably in one of West Ham’s rare attacks Jarvis scored a header which in all fairness was a messy goal and thoughts returned again to “oh no”.

Of course the ideal situation is to fight back immediately and just before half time Podolski let fly with his lethal left foot.

“Goals change games” , a phrase often used and the Arsenal team that came out in the second half had a spring in it’s step and was more like the side we had been watching a couple of months ago .

Giroud, the enigma he is, scored a fantastic goal and the when the tired Rosicky game off the introduction of Ramsey showed how much we had missed him and within minutes his dinked header into the path of our left footed German nearly broke the net, and the game was won.

It was a much changed team and it was nice to see Cazorla back to his best after a slow start. He seems to save his best performances for Home games and I just can’t work Giroud out. He generally misses the easy chances yet converts the more difficult ones. Maybe with him and even Podolski to an extent it’s just regaining confidence.

Another who surprised me was Arteta, though not foot perfect, he and mainly the whole team seemed to have been revitalised after the Cup win, and that bodes well for the run in.

I keep repeating it, but Sagna should be retained if possible. He even found himself in the centre forward position on one occasion and his energy levels are amazing. He maybe getting on,but a player who can naturally play in at least three different positions is invaluable.

All in all a very satisfactory performance and a vital three points. Others are still to come back and by the weekend including most probablty Ozil and Oxdale-Chamberlain, we may well then  have a selection problem. It’s a “Funny old game”, that’s why we love it and emotions swing up and down several times in just ninety minutes.

Well played lads, today we are smiling :)

Written by kelsey


Time to Man Up

April 15, 2014

If there is a team we do not want to play after a 120+ minute bruising game at Wembley it is any side managed by Allardyce. If there is one player we do not want to see it is Andy Carroll. Sometimes the  football Gods kick us in the goolies.

Can our battered and injury strewn team gain a vital victory in their quest towards another season of the Champions League? We shall find out tonight.

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Allardyce has stated that WHU are not safe yet which is true but I would be hugely surprised if they are relegated – there are some awful teams in the drop-zone and WHU  are not one of them. West Ham, as any Fat Sam team is, are well organised, battle for 90+ minutes and play dull, dull, football which sadly gets enough results to avoid Sam getting gardening leave. This season we have seen managers with attacking instincts being replaced by those with a more pragmatic view, perhaps clubs look at the survival expertise of Allardyce and think “sod pretty football, keep us in the PL” – an understandable viewpoint.

What do you think Sam will be telling his players to do tonight?  Do you think he will be saying, “let’s retain possession and pass it through their midfield”? Nope – IMO he will be saying “8 men behind the ball, look for the wingers and then lump it into the middle for the Big Man,” “if one of their Fancy Dans gets past you kick him hard”, and “look to get set pieces as often as possible”. Arsenal have to fight and stand up to the physical battle.

Would you like to see Andy Carroll at Arsenal? No, really – joking aside when fit he is a major handful, a proper old fashioned centre forward. If (huge IF) we had a player able to feed off knock downs he could do a job for us. Surely a better sub than Sanogo but a far more expensive one. Mr Wenger has identified stopping crosses into Carroll as being vital “Yes [we must take special care with him] because once the ball is up there, you do not find many people who can compete with him and win the challenge” – which means BFG is in for a tough night.

As to our team, I would like to see our Scandi Supersub get a start. He looks as though he can handle himself and deserves a reward for his excellent weekend penalty. Given that Flamina is still suspended and Arteta is knacked Kallstrom appears to be an inspired signing !

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SuperSub

Or could we see Vermaelen given the DM berth many have proposed for him? To play a back line of Sagna, BFG,  Kos, TV and Gibbs would allow Gibbs to act sit a little further forward. TV could help nullify the threat of Carroll and it gives us a chance to play 3 at the back. What do you think?

Upfront, we have to start with Giroud. We remain a blunt instrument but he is our sharpest blade. Sanogo or Podolski? Given the need to stop the supply of crosses, Podolski. But and this is a huge BUT, there is a chance that Ozil will return which would be brilliant for both us and OG.

Playing Fat Sam teams is never easy especially given the negative physical effect of an injury blighted season and the draining weekend but 3 points are very, very important.

written by Big Raddy

This is arnie’s suggested line up

001wh

 


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.

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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


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