On and On
Sunday 31st January 2016
The last day of the month and our incredible run in the FA Cup goes on. February in fact was the last time we lost in the competition. And that was in 2013!!
Looking back to that exit it was in a home game against grossly unfancied opposition. You need to turn up in every cup tie. And you have to wonder if our disappointing defeat that day has served us well ever since.
Since the war, only us (twice), Spurs (twice), Newcastle and Chelsea have won the famous old trophy for two years on the bounce. Spurs went out in the 5th Round when trying to make it a hat-trick of wins in 1983 but the best defence by some distance was our own in 2004 where we reached the last 4 again. Amazing to think when we won it again the following season how close we were to winning it 4 times in a row.
No other club has gone further than the 4th Round in this situation giving an indication of the level of achievement Saturday afternoon’s result sees us reach.
Whilst on the history vein, 1950 was another year where we enjoyed success in the competition and on our run to Wembley Burnley visited North London in the 5th Round.
Like Saturday we scored 2 that day and with no reply we progressed into the quarter final in front of 55 odd thousand people. Famous names such as captain Joe Mercer, the Compton brothers, Jimmy Logie, George Swindin and a Reg Lewis who would have no idea at this stage he would end his season scoring a double at Wembley to help his team mates win the cup, were on teamsheet that day.
The programme that day included a front page aerial view of a Highbury with a roofless North Bank where you can clearly see the famous premises located directly behind that stand that gave rise to ‘The Laundry End’.
Elsewhere British Rail offered a large advert telling potential patrons how they could enjoy cheap Sunday days out to destinations such as Folkestone, Thetford, Spalding, Cardiff and Sheffield, the latter from Marylebone!
The programme also saw the absolutely fascinating picture below where squad members including legend Alex James underwent ‘Sun-Ray treatment’, no doubt a typically Arsenal groundbreaking method in the day no matter how it looks to us these days.
Although strong favourites to progress on Saturday afternoon Burnley were always going to be a dangerous opponent. Full of Premier League experience and the in form side in the Championship, anything but a decent performance could see us slip up.
And although the 2-1 scoreline suggests it was a close run thing, as an overall contest we thoroughly deserved to go through.
There was a huge amount to feel good about too I think. Without being incredible our new signing ‘Super Mo’ Elneny enjoyed a more than satisfactory debut, Le Coq slotted back into that defensive midfield position he has almost made his own and any Tommy Rosicky appearance is a popular one.
Throw in 2 superb goals, the first a quite awesome strike from an unexpected source, the second a fast and efficient counter attack thumped home by Alexis and of course our safe progression into Round 5 and all in all it was a thoroughly satisfactory day at the office.
I also felt Alex Iwobi had an excellent afternoon. Looking extremely confident and comfortable on the ball throughout, the boy has a chance I feel. And that has to be a good thing.
My steak dinner and glass or four of red wine when I got home wouldn’t always be put hand in hand with the word ‘celebration’ but it was definitely graced with the kind of satisfaction FA Cup progression always gives you. As I said to my dad as we left the ground, “that’ll do”.
I’ve spent all day decorating today. Not rock and roll admittedly but the only aspect of today’s football activities I was genuinely interested in was this evening’s 5th Round draw.
Shrewsbury away would have been my first choice. I was at Gay Meadow back in 1991 when Mickey Thomas scored the only goal but I haven’t been to their new abode.
Like in all draws however, if you don’t get your preferred choice personally, a home tie has to be a good thing. And despite the fact it’s Hull yet again, I’ll definitely take that.
Very little time to dwell on cup success on this occasion as we return to league action and take on a side on Tuesday night that absolutely spanked us over Christmas.
That and nothing else should be enough to make sure we are ready.
The march goes on……