Into The Last Four

Tuesday 14th March 2017

Despite the fact we are now only one of four teams that can win the FA Cup this year I have waited until now to pen my thoughts so we know who stands in our way of yet another final. And if I’m honest I would have chosen our opponent if I had that option. As condescending as this sounds that is not for any other reason than the fact us Arsenal fans will never consider Man City as what you would describe as a ‘rival’. They are not based in London for starters and historically it is only money that has seen them reach the upper reaches of the league on a regular basis.

I found out the result of last night’s quarter final on my mobile phone. I didn’t watch the game due to a total lack of interest on my part. After all, in addition to watching our under 23’s latest encounter live on arsenal.com, getting 1 question right on University Challenge or watching Mary Berry knock up a fine beef and ale cobbler were both far more appealing.

My attitude to watching football live on the TV has changed dramatically down the years. Once upon a time I would pretty much watch everything. When we weren’t playing, Sunday’s meant a day on the sofa nursing a hangover getting up just in time for the 12 noon kick-off, followed by the 2pm and 4pm games and finishing with a game from Spain in the evening. Movement was confined to the loo and to answer the door to the pizza delivery man!

But these days, there is a massive live football overkill with games from all over the world on TV every single day and night. As a result I only watch one if I am genuinely interested. And that is more likely to be a top of the table clash in the National League where I can watch the game as a complete neutral than anything on offer from the Premier League. I watch football to relax when it’s not my team, anything involving a rival or a club I am not fond of tends stress me out. Personal choice I guess.

I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend just gone. Spent in the company of great friends and massive Gooners it involved many of the things I enjoy most about life including of course our match on Saturday evening. And summarising briefly, in a situation where there was absolutely no way we would be seen as ‘winners’ on the day, I think we pretty much did the job well. Wembley beckons. Yet again.

On more than one occasion pre-match I heard people parading as genuine Gooners come out with lines such as ‘a bit of me wants us to lose today’. You know the type, those that when it suits them claim to be the biggest Arsenal fan on the earth yet can’t attend the game that afternoon as they need to go shopping or something.

I find that attitude astounding. An FA Cup Quarter final and you’d be happy if we lost. That’s no Arsenal fan in my book. Although I would be more than happy if the 9000 Lincoln fans had the best football day out of their lives I wanted just one thing from the day. Progression to the semi final and another chance to walk down Wembley Way.

And that brings me on to something else I don’t agree with! Although I have no problem with the rule that sees the away teams in FA Cup ties getting a bigger share of the match tickets, I passionately feel this should be based on the visitors’ average home attendance. From what I understand it can be up to 15% available for the away team under the current FA rules. If that is above the normal allocation for a league game I believe it should only be relevant if that total matches 15% of their average home attendance. So Man Utd for example get 70 odd thousand through the door and I would expect them to take their allocation of 9 thousand. But with Lincoln getting 5 odd thousand every week, the fact they got 9 thousand tickets on Saturday is ridiculous. Three thousand would have been more than sufficient for their genuine week in week out fans. That meant 6 thousand Gooners, including loads of regulars in our own supporters club, could not attend the game. And no matter who you support, that is not right in my book.

As we see year in year out with cup finals however, there is no shock in the FA mucking up when getting genuine fans of the clubs taking part through the turnstiles.

In one aspect I felt Saturday evening would be similar to the Munich home game. I felt our visitors could make it tough for us in the first hour but was confident they would run out of steam. So as long as we didn’t give ourselves a mountain to climb I never felt at any stage we would do anything other than win comfortably. And overall, that is exactly how it panned out. I’m not really sure how else it can be analysed.

As (hopefully) we come out of what has been an extremely disappointing, frustrating and difficult period, that result will certainly do and we can look forward to a day out at Wembley in a few weeks time.

Before that we very much need to get our league form back on track and that starts with a tough looking trip to The Hawthorns this coming Saturday lunchtime. I say ‘tough’ because it doesn’t matter who you play when your form is below par, every game looks daunting. And our results away at West Brom have been pretty mixed down the years.

But if we get behind the team like we know we can we are capable of coming away with a positive result.

Come on you mighty reds!

Frank
@stubbsy70

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