Is Arsenal’s Love Affair With The FA Cup Over?

The media attention turns towards Wembley this afternoon where Portsmouth chaotic season climaxes in their attempt to stop Chelsea’s double becoming reality. In the past, Wimbledon may have pooped on Liverpool’s party in similar cirmcumstances but a better indicator would be Newcastle’s failure to stop Arsenal and Manchester United completing the domestic double as the last century drew to a close.

For some, it highlights the significance of Arsène’s decision to field sides which were not the best XI available in the competition. The status of the FA Cup in the English game is unmatched in football outside of these shores, league status far more important than the cup for the bigger sides. Arsène’s comments recently about qualification being a trophy highlight that belief.

Wenger is well aware of the allure that a trip to Wembley holds yet it is not a priority, his insistence that winning the Champions and Premier League’s is more important cannot be argued with but with money so crucial to clubs, qualifying for the top competition in the following season is now his third priority in a season, indicative of the financial dominance of the two.

The FA Cup has a great history, a key pillar of English football’s rich heritage but the allure of the competition is fading. Perhaps the influence of the previous paragraph has worn down my love of the competition. Childhood days of being able to reel off the scores and scorers of finals in days gone by, knowing that Worcester City’s elimination of Liverpool in the 1950s was not as big a shock as that suffered by Arsenal in the 1930s due to the lesser status of the Merseysiders, have become edged with their own sepia tones. I used to love leaving the ground with safe passage through to the next round assured, waiting to hear Sports Report on the way home, hoping misfortune and humiliation would have befallen someone, allowing for gloating on Monday morning.

That is not to say that success in the competition is without joy. As a one-off occasion, the wins in the finals have been no less enjoyable in the last decade as watching Charlie George or Alan Sunderland find the back of the net. Simply that the FA Cup itself is becoming relatively predictable. There are still genuine shocks such as Leeds at Old Trafford this season but the impact is lessened through media excuses and overuse of the word ‘upset’. To give it some context, Stoke beating Arsenal at home on a ground where not even a league point had been garnered was considered an ‘upset’, despite the visitors being barely able to find eleven fit players.

The FA Cup’s allure stems from the time pre-European club competitions, when there were but two trophies to win. It continued through to the 1990s but with each season, its importance reduced. For fans of non-big four clubs, it represented a genuine chance to put silverware in the trophy cabinet. Even so, since 1980 only seven winners have not been from the ‘Big Four’. If that description is movable, only four sides would be considered winners outside of that description. There is a monotony about the winners that ill-serves the FA Cup.

The Football Association are aware of the diminished status; a committee is reviewing the format to keep it ‘fresh’ (their choice of word) and is considering doing away with replays and playing the rounds in midweek until the semi-finals. That the organisers are worried about the state of their premier club product indicates the diminished esteem.

Wenger has divided opinion amongst Arsenal fans over fielding a team of fringe players in the FA Cup. The question for the current squad is Wenger doing them a disservice? They want to win and since 2007 have been tantalising close to honours on a number of occasions The first competition they win is believed to be the one that will open the floodgates. Possibly but there is no guarantee.

In his first full season Wenger presided over a double, leading onto a decade or more’s service in the Champions League. From a selfish point of view, a European victory is the only thing missing from his CV and there can be no doubt that whilst he wants to win one, the opportunity to win with this squad would be more satisfying since it is his own creation.

This season he had little choice, the squad so injury riven that he struggled to get a squad together for the tie at Stoke. The policy served him well in reacing the semi-final’s last season but previous campaigns have not fared so well, defeats in the North West in consecutive seasons including the capitulation at Old Trafford.

Failure to win any trophies has polarised views as to whether or not Wenger should continue this policy. My suspicion is that had, for example, a Premier League title or two been thrown into the mix since 2005, the importance of winning the FA Cup would not be so great. Such is the desperation for silverware that it is now an issue.

For today? A Portsmouth win would defy belief and be the modern day equivalent of Sunderland’s 1973 triumph. Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on May 15, 2010, in Arsenal, FA Cup, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 97 Comments.

  1. And 3rd?

  2. Lol. Sory Bigbrovar

  3. @Pro III Fine you made your point :p

  4. again Its not a co incident the the team with the biggest all round squad won the league and is also in the finals of the FA Cup. If arsenal ever want to achieve anything significant in football like actually win something. we need to boost the squad. Our squad needs to match our ambition. There is no doubt that we have one of the best 1st 11 in the world. But a football team is more than just your first 11. You need depth if you want to attack both the FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League and until we start investing in bringing in fresh bloOD. I don’t even think we been big names. The likes of Thomas Vermaelen. we have some of the best scouts system in football I think surely if we scout some of French/dutch/ etc league long enough we would see some un known quality we can bring to the team. anyway Its MHO

  5. Whats going on with Gallas? Now Nasri has come out and said that hes a disruptive element in the dressing room. I know hes been immense this season but the repercussions of having a squad that is not united can be much greater. Nasri’s been quoted as saying that there are 5-6 players that are not on talking terms with gallas….surely that has some effect on performances on the pitch….i mean…when players can’t communicate with each other effectively off the pitch…i dont know how easy it is for them to do it on the pitch. Gallas being a senior member of the squad must feel he has a right to speak his mind more than others but with all this talk of disharmony among him and certain players…there might be times, crucial times when egos come in the way of reason.

  6. come on portsmouth!

  7. Arseman,

    there are a couple of players in this squad that dont have arsenal in their hearts.

    Unfortunatley I think Gallas is one of them.

    He’s a mercenary. An excellent mercenary. But a mercenary.

    Unlike barndoor and even arshavin though, you can scarcley tell on the pitch. The man is a total pro.

  8. Deano…you are right…he has excelled for us this season…but thats him…hes an experienced professional and seems like he can get in the zone and get on with it..but i wonder if the players that dont get along with him can do the same with him in the squad.

  9. Sorry YW, but you’ve such a way with words that you’ve lost me in this paragraph:

    “In his first full season Wenger presided over a double, leading onto a decade or more’s service in the Champions League. From a selfish point of view, a European victory is the only thing missing from his CV and there can be no doubt that whilst he wants to win one, the opportunity to win with this squad would be more satisfying since it is his own creation.”

  10. Seems clear to me Henristic.

  11. shotta-gunna

    Arseman – I went to NewsNow to read more about this “revelation” by Nasri. Predictably every tabloid has blaring headlines but this is an old story, particularly the ill-feelings between Nasri and Gallas. In fact Nasri may not be the most objective person as a source. No doubt the fact that the players still fight for each other on the pitch will be given short shrift in favor of stories of division and strife.

  12. From the Guardian:

    “If you had never seen Stoke play, you could quickly ascertain their style from a look at the stats – snobs may say that is the most entertaining way to watch them. They averaged far less possession per match than any other team (39.6%), made fewer passes (10,314, compared to Manchester United’s 19,327), mustered fewer shots, and hit a higher percentage of their passes long than anyone else (21.12%). But Stoke finished well clear of trouble because what they do, they do well: they were, for example, the most accurate crossers in the league (26.76% completion rate when corners are included, just ahead of Chelsea and Aston Villa and way in front of the league’s least accurate crossers – Arsenal, on 17.49%).”

    Whoa, I really didn’t think we were that bad. Clichy and Sagna, who i imagine make the lions share of all our crosses, should please take note!

    On the plus side, Cesc Fábregas generated opportunities more frequently than any other player (every 23.1 minutes).

  13. SG: Exactly. Its not like Nasri or whoever else will play badly just because Gallas is in the team? In fact I seem to remember us playing much better as a team before Gallas got injured.

    Forget the tabloids, I honestly don’t know why anyone reads them.

  14. Delia-----Block 112

    I love the FA Cup but success in any cup competition depends on the luck of the draw. For Arsenal to have been at Wembley today, we would have played every round away from home , against PL opposition ! Just take a look at both Portsmouth and Chelski’s draw !

  15. I agree that the FA cup needs some reform. I agree with the idea of midweek games. But they should not be one offs. They should be both home and away up to semi-final level, penalty shootouts deciding ties if theres an aggregate draw. Only the final should be one off. Maybe they’d have to sacrifice the Carling Cup by making it a competition for clubs that don’t go beyond a certain round in the FA Cup or a Championship level competition. Next they should use a seeding method – as in Tennis – based on the performance as per the preceding season.
    As for dominance by a big four clubs this may be modified by present circumstances. The EPL seems to be moving to a big seven or maybe there is simply going to be a change in the big four’s constitution. I remember when Everton and Spurs were considered part of a big five along with Manure, ‘pool and Arsenal.

  16. As to who wins today’s match I really don’t care a damn!

  17. Our priority is to make Champions League.

  18. that Wembley pitch!!! Despite all the green, it must be deceptive. The game looks like they are playing with a balloon on sand. One big reason why we have fallen out of love with the FA Cup.

  19. Agreed SG….as long as they can act professionally on the pitch i have no problems….just dont like to hear news about our players not getting along…

  20. Play up Pompey
    Play up Pompey

  21. ‘A savage challenge’ according the p(l)undit.
    Not when it’s an AFC player.
    Tackled by a Good Ole boy.

    Phew, wasn’t a goal.

    “Why do FIFA refuse to use Video Replays?”
    Said the P(L)undit.

    Good question!

    Never mind the Ballacks, what a pitch!

  22. John Terry-captain, leader, legend

    is a disgusting despicable twat.

  23. Finsbury

    The best bit was when Beglin said “Maybe I jumped the gun”, followed by the gormless Tyldsley asking, “Why don’t Fifa use the technology either way”.

    Would it be too simple that it was obvious the whole of the ball had not crossed the line.

    What a pair of numbnuts.


  24. I know YW,

    Funny stuff.

    The ‘referee’s assistant’ does deserve credit for a good decision.

  25. Got to be honest, the thought of the greedy little toerag becoming the player with the most winners medals in the history of the FA Cup is sickening. A definite reason for wanting Pompey to start ‘playing up’.

  26. A couple of other factors behind the “demise” of the FA Cup:

    1 – it used to be the only domestic game televised

    2 – the TV deal these days is poor, and as a result even the winners of the final get less money than one televised Premier League match

  27. Penalty for Pompey!

  28. The worst penalty ever seen in an FA Cup Final

  29. What a rubbish penalty.

  30. ~_~ Pompey

  31. 60 seconds when Portsmouth’s FA Cup luck ran out. Good freekick though.

  32. Two late goals for portsmouth?

  33. Was Terry booked for the block earlier?

  34. Nope!

  35. What does John Terry have to do to be shown a card?

  36. anyone hear Beglin waxing lyrical about Belhadj’s 2 absoloutley delicious balls?

  37. marc

    Kill someone- stone dead

  38. Follow in Daddy’s footsteps?

  39. OR

    be exposed as a Sebian. and have his english passport revoked.

  40. Depressing.

  41. Surely the man of match was the goal frame that Chelsea hit five times in the first half

  42. poor avram

    Hes a great manager, he’ll have his day.

    John Terry sounds every inch the cretin he is.

  43. I think you may have identified our new stopper Yogi.

  44. sign him up.

  45. Cb

    Rumour has it that he’s available on a free transfer. Trouble is that the pitch is part of the deal…


  46. see franks boobs goin then?

  47. lumpard…that is

    Ivan Gazidis believes a state-of-the-art GPS tracking system could help Arsenal ease their injury problems in years to come.

    Should generate some interesting stats.

  49. someone please……

    Beat Andy Townsend to within an inch of his life.

  50. Deano – Why would you want them to stop there?

  51. I see the silly season has started.

  52. Oh, on a serious note, is the transfer window now open?

    If not, when?

  53. I think most Arsenal fans want to see a new keeper at the club for next season. What really annoys me most about these “we know better than Wenger” pricks is that they never make any suggestions beyond whatever drivel the papers have recently come up with. If there is a World Class keeper available for an affordable fee Wenger will try to sign him. Of course we could always bring in Benitez, I’m sure he’ll have no problem spending money.

  54. marc- 5:59

    so that he could feel the lingering pain….and know he brought it all on himself.

    And also about the ‘protests’ against Wenger….I have a theory that natural selection is very real….and that Ethics have kept the week and stupid alive, hidering the advancement of our failing species.

    This is a prime example.

    They must be culled.

  55. The transfer window is open now, I think.

    Looking around, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about with our fans – the whole “Wenger Out” lot amounts to a ragtag collection of tards and know-it-alls. There are as many around now as there were two years ago.

    I haven’t read anything by Myles Palmer since the end of last season, but, even then, he was starting to cross the line between eccentric and plain crazy.

    On that point – did anyone listen to yesterday’s Arsecast? He opened the pod up to callers during the week, and nearly every single one acknowledged the progress we made this season. He was surprised by the lack of venom.

    I’m actually looking forward to the transfer window this year. Gallas looks to be off (possibly no bad thing, reading Nasri’s interview), but every other important player is tied to a long-term contract. If anyone of note leaves then we’ll be compensated more than sufficiently. So really, what’s there to be worried about?

    Especially as we’ve got a golden generation of youngsters desperate to show AW what they can do.

    And it’s not even like we’re going to be without football! 7 days separate the WC Final and our first pre-season match.

  56. So Chamakh is on his way for sure? That’s great news, although I hope it means we can still accommodate Eduardo.

    For CB, I hope we can at least keep Campbell till Batley gets a bit more experience, and possibly add Mamadou Sakho to replace Gallas. The guy’s only 20, but the talent is definitely there. The only problem could be the price, anything over 10mil is probably not worth it.

  57. Has the silly season finally began? I’m for signing Felipe Melo. I remember seeing him for the first time, it was the confederation cup in South Africa and I told my fellow Gooner: “that guy is Arsenal material.” And surely enough a few days later Wenger tried signing him. He chose the Italian old lady over us because Brazilians rate Serie A above the EPL. But now that the old lady is in a ditch – mind you they wouldn’t stay there long with the Agnelli family’s money – we just might grab him.

  58. 1 loose cannon

    Kenyan- Brazilians don’t rate serie A they just don’t fancy it going oop north in winter time. Robinho legged it to brazil and many others failed in England Ecxept our old boy Gilberto who in my opinion the only Brazilian who had a succesful career in England.They love the sun and the beach. Regarding Melo I don’t really know what the fuss is about, he had one good season, Denilson will be better than him in a year or 2.

  59. Here’s my team of shifty-looking footballers:


    Rene Higuita
    Gary Neville
    Leo Clijsters
    John de Wolf
    Trifon Ivanov
    Chris Baird
    Phil Neville
    Darren Fletcher
    Antonio Conte
    Pablo Hernandez
    Francis Jeffers

  60. OOU

    You need look no further than the whole united team to fill the ‘shifty-looking’ team

  61. That’s quite right, Dups. I thought Rooney would be too obvious.

    I was working on a bald team until I realised The Sun had already been there. So now it’s moustachioed menaces.

    So far I’ve got Bergomi, Souness and Panenka. It could be quite a team.

  62. Seaman in goal of course!

  63. *

  64. Tommy Smith

  65. Ian Rush & Aldridge

  66. Valderama

  67. Valderama could be in most categories.

  68. Now this is a f*cking team:


    David Seaman
    Jurgen Kohler
    Guiseppe Bergomi
    Ruud Gullit
    Kenny Sansom
    Graeme Souness
    Toninho Cerezo
    Antonin Panenka
    Zbigniew Boniek
    Rudi Voller

    It’s sort of cheating, because it looks like everyone had a tache in the 70s and 80s. But those guys had signature moustaches. The team’s so good that Ruud Gullit has to make do in defence.

  69. Didn’t see your comment. I think Rush could be there instead of Voller.

  70. YW great post.

    found my self pondering some of the things you brought up while watching the final earlier.

    i wonder if a lot of the love affair with the FA Cup in England has to do with the final being a destination event. “We’re going to Wembley” etc etc

    do other countries, spain/italy/germany have a similar “national” stadium like Wembley?

  71. Pity you could not fit Merv Hughes in somewhere Big Al. 🙂

  72. Gah! There were two, weren’t there? Boon was the other. Creepy-looking mofos they were!

  73. Great picture that Al. Cerezo’s tongue must have got sunburnt that day.

  74. Ah yea Boon

  75. Mind you this fella would takes a lot of beating

  76. Yikes.

    Merv Hughes and Boon gave me nightmares. It all came flooding back when I saw that picture. They belong in an Australian version of Deliverance.

  77. Which one would play the banjo? Or would it be Digerydoo.

  78. A great man with a moustache.

  79. While on the subject of great men. My favourite saying from the greatest boxer of all time:

    “Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change”

  80. This one is good to:

    “I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.”

  81. Cool stuff.

    I got caught up watching duelling banjos! Man that film is scary.

    Going to leave with this. I know it doesn’t have the woman’s vocals, but this version is brutal – especially when you imagine what was going on in front of them. The footage is great as well:

  82. LOL Big Al. Just average down south inbred norm.

    Try the more relaxing Rob Zombie films.

  83. Thanks Al. I remember reading about the shit going on there. Jagger is a great performer.

  84. Forget the end shite about best buy that was a shit joke.

  85. OneOfUs on May 15, 2010
    at 7:04 pm:

    Myles Palmer lost the plot exactly 3 years ago.

  86. who’s up for going to this protest at the emirates cup then???

  87. If they are serious about protesting, they should do so by staying away and letting Arsenal supporters attend. Why waste money on a ticket if you are so unhappy about what you are getting for it? We all have choices and the most important one is about where you spend your money.

  88. Exactly Passenal.

    New Post Up.


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