FA Cup Preview & From The Vaults: 1988 – Ticket To Ride


The briefest of reportsd this morning, time has beaten me.

FA Cup Third Round weekend continues, Arsenal seeking to avoid being the highest-placed fall guys. Well, that was the planned beginning anyway. Thanks Jose, Manuel and Ronald; Louis, you wont’ be surprised, didn’t make the Cup his own and the United cover version team he put together is doing a passable impression of not wanting to take their flirtation any further.

C’mon, did you seriously think I wouldn’t laugh at the results yesterday? Yes, I know we may go the same way but frankly, today ought to serve as a warning to Arsenal. Play your best or you will be out on your Arsenal’s as well.

And with the derision heaped upon the club in recent years for their failure in big matches, let’s give a special mention to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea for wiping us out of the Bradford City’s immediate memory with a fabulous collapse. A quite special one.

It was a day Swansea’s exit slipped quietly by. Jesus, to think I questioned the romance of the cup? Not so much a bloody nose for the Premier League as a full on Michael Myers.

So to this afternoon. Sides who should know better apparently disrespected the FA Cup by changing their sides and paid the price. Will Arsenal do the same? It’s slightly different in this case. There are players who could do with a rest but the weaknesses in the squad which remain as of yet unresolved, prevent that. Reports suggest Joel Campbell will travel to Castellón as Gabriel jets into a work permit appeal hearing.

Equally, Arsenal need to build some momentum. The win at City gave Arsenal a tremendous boost, a real platform upon which to build for the remainder of the season. It needs the core of the side to remain in situ. Even so, I would expect five changes.

Most notably will surely be the return of Wojciech Szczesny as the club’s cup goalkeeper. A path to redemption for his indiscretions or faltering form, your disposition toward the Pole will dictate the reason. There’s a case for making that the only change in the back four and last week showed understandings have begun to be built.

Kieran Gibbs might come in Monreal but that depends on whether Arsène thinks more changes are warranted further up the field. It’s risky business, Walcott and Özil are ready to begin pushing on for challenging for starting line-up places in the senior competitions. They need match practice to do so and this afternoon, no matter what store we put in winning the FA Cup, is that opportunity.

Whatever your view on the German’s form for the club, having a player of that quality in the side or squad cannot do any harm. He’s proven for other clubs and his country that he has the abilities; it’s up to the manager to draw those out for Arsenal.

Özil’s return is a key moment for me. It offers the opportunity to rest Alexis. Colleagues and bosses marvel at the Chilean’s fitness levels but a rest must surely benefit him, especially with the business end of the season approaching. Having been pivotal in hauling Arsenal through an injury-riven spell, to lose him to the same is not far short of unthinkable.

It leaves the line-up as something like:

Which means that Özil for Sanchez will probably be the only change Arsène makes.

The FA Cup remains Arsenal’s best opportunity for silverware this season. Last May, the club saw the bounce that a trophy can bring around the place; repeating that cannot do any harm at all.

From The Vaults

Back to the George Graham era for an FA Cup tie at The Goldstone. Arsenal had not won a First Division game since Sheffield Wednesday succumbed to a 3 – 1 defeat at Highbury.

Millwall had been beaten in the Third Round whilst Wednesday were undone by Martin Hodge’s fumble at Hillsborough in the quarter-final of the League Cup or whatever the hell it was called then. I’ve erased it; I stood on Wembley’s crumbling terraces as Gus Caesar performed Bambi On Ice. 

This sunny Winter’s afternoon sticks in the mind for the wrong reasons. Team photos outside the station, of confessions about carrots, candles in buns served on a silver tray to celebrate previously unknown birthdays. But it is memorable because the distance of time allows much laughter, probably more than at the time as the tribe descended from London and the Thames Valley, converging at Gatwick.

The train departed and as it sped toward the South Coast, tickets were dutifully doled out, most tucked into wallets and pockets for safe keeping. One didn’t, cherished as its new owner proudly stated that he couldn’t believe he’d got his prize and delivered the obligatory kiss. As his head raised from the paper, the ticket left his grasp and flew out of the small open window in the carriage.

Whether to laugh or cry tears of sympathy? Laugh, of course. Thankfully a replacement was procured at reasonably close to face value and Arsenal won. It wasn’t all bad with Tottenham providing the comedy moment of the Fourth Round by falling flat on their faces in a 2 – 1 defeat at the hands of Port Vale at Vale Park.

’til Tomorrow.

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160 thoughts on “FA Cup Preview & From The Vaults: 1988 – Ticket To Ride

  1. Ramsey…he must be exhausted… he usually buries those.

    Good win, but in true Arsenal form, we made it interesting.

  2. @Moe

    Completely agree, i would keep Akpom and then send him on loan and the following summer when Giroud might go bring him back and have a striking core of: Sanchez, Theo, Ox, Welbeck, Akpom and whoever else Arsene brings in.

  3. Wasn’t easy but we got it done when all the rest of the big boys lost so job well done even if we wanted to do it the hard way.

    Great to see Theo, Ozil and Mozart score. All 3 played well ans can’t wait to have them back at their best.

  4. That will do, but we really have to stop with that shaky stuff in the second half. At the start I thought we had made to many changes at the back and I was unhappy with Flamini as the holding player. As soon as we conceded every player at the back looked uncomfortable. Our attack looks very dangerous though and when everyone’s fit we can always use Rosicky for little cameos. He loves to run at teams, but will never be able to do it week after week for 90 minutes. Such a shame that he was injured for so long, he’s just class.

  5. Good,performance but rather casual.

    Must learn to manage games better. Could easily have conceded again. Sczny very complacent.

    Some obvious stand out players though.

  6. Bellerin is apparently injured. I hope he’s fit for next week as hate Chambers at RB.
    Rosicky was immense. A joy to watch.

  7. Heard it too. Someone at the Home Office can be got to. That’s the only explanation.

    And man, Flamini, Flamini, Flamini. Hate to be negative after a decent win, especially after what happened yesterday, but he got completely done by a 2nd-tier striker on that first goal. And it wasn’t anything special. Then when they broke on us he just dives in and gets nowhere near the ball. He must do that at least once a game. Had he played against City it would have been a completely different story.

    I’m even starting to worry about what might happen if Coquelin gets injured. And he’s not even that special.

  8. He certainly sounded confident, Wavey.

    What does he know that we don’t?

    Glad you had a good day out in Brighton, Jonny and LSG. Where were the locals? Damon and duke?

  9. Bob, I think he was always rough around the edges. The only time he makes sense is alongside a DM when he’s given the chance to run around as much as he likes. Like when we brought him on against Man City – it’s the only scenario in which I want to see him; when we’re defending a lead and need some graft in midfield. But when the defensive responsibility is on his shoulders anything can happen.

  10. Rosicky was amazing and its all the more fantastic when you take into account how old he is. He’s the perfect impact sub and occasional starter…that’s a real luxury to have as an Arsenal fan.

    Thought Ozil had a very good game too coming back from such a long time out. Come to think of it this was the perfect game to reintroduce him to rather than the City match which might have been a much cagier affair. Ozil was afforded the space he loves to work the type of space he was afforded by Brighton. I also really liked the interchange between Ozil and Ramsey this game…hopefully they can strike up that wonderful partnership from last season, those two seem to operate on the same wavelength.

    Ramsey was pretty solid too but seemed gassed at the very end given that he usually makes those shots, but this is his first 90 completed since return from injury so that’s good for his fitness building.

    Coquelin was a solid sub for god knows what Flamini was doing out there – we looked better for it. Not sure why it wasn’t a like for like sub though especially because he brought on Alexis who while bringing on great attacking impetus will also lose the ball which given the game at that point I was a bit worried about.

    Not too fantastic from Koscielny, Chambers and Woj today…the changed up back 4 probably had a pretty big effect on those lads.

    Overall, a good performance thats not really reflected in the scoreline…in true Arsenal fashion we made hard work of it in the end but I’d wager that any one of City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, United or Southampton would take our result over theirs this weekend 🙂

  11. That is a very bold statement from Arsene but if true then job well done.

    Does anybody else think that with tje signing of Paulista, we will see Chambers at DM?

  12. @arse
    Completely agree about Ozil and Ramsey, they really seem to ubderstand each other and what the other wants to do and where the other is.

  13. Does anyone have any theories on the freshness and agility of Rosicky as a 34 year old footballer?

    Is it because his muscles are fresh from not being on the pitch alot? So he has avoided wear and tear?

    Because it baffles me.

  14. Bellerin was a late fitness test, but made the bench.

    Way too many changes at the back for me. If AW knew Bellerin wasn’t going to be in the starting line-up, he should have started Per with Kos. Swapping your left sided CB to the right and then playing Chambers outside him and Flamini in front of him seems nuts.

    Flamini looks to run around like a headless chicken and it was clear that LeCoq was brought on to try to settle things down once Brighton got up a head of speed.

    Great news to come out with the win and be in the hat for the next round. Definitely managed to get past a real potential banana skin.

  15. A good win despite almost throwing it away with complacency.

    Obviously Theo & Ozil were big plus points & Rosicky was today`s Santi but I really loved Akpom`s cameo. He`s got a real chance & cannot be allowed to leave.

    There were a couple of poor performances today, I thought, particularly Giroud.
    I`d also agree with Birdkamp that Flamini is a real liability.

    Still , we`re in the `at tomorrow which is all that counts !

  16. Agree about Akpom, plenty of positives in his cameo. He needs to be confident in slipping passes into the path of his team mates. Had a great chance to slide the ball in to Alexis, but wanted to take a touch when the first time ball was god best option. That will come with time and having more of an understanding of the players around him.

  17. Onwards and upwards.
    TR7 continues to shine.
    Akpom shows significantly more than Sanogo, in my opinion.
    A couple of very soft goals given away.
    Chambers confirmed for all that Bellerin is ahead on the pecking order.

  18. Morning Bob

    Yes, we managed to put a little troop together for the away game that was actually like a home game for myself and Rebecca. LSG and Jonny made it too

    My my my did we learn some things about Jonny yesterday!!!!

  19. Apart from two brief spells around their goals, we were chanting, “Is this the Emirates?!”–but of course the answer was “no”–it was far too loud!

  20. Indeed, Jonny will have to break the internet again to keep the full exposé out of the light!

    It was very tough to land a couple tickets and it was obvious why–huge number of gooners filling the extra FA cup allocation–looked like three sections of Brighton’s nice half Emirates ground. Loud, strong, buoyant. Great experience for a first away match!

  21. Its a night mare to see chambers at right back.The truth is that he is not a right back.He is too heavy and mechanical to play there.He is always skinned and beaten for pace often

  22. Also very impressed with Brighton: very pretty city on the coast with hills that reminded me a bit if my native San Francisco Bay Area, attractive and clean station, impressive modern stadium and above all some very friendly and gracious inhabitants who didn’t mind gooners at their pubs, trains, streets or at least showed good courtesy and willingness to have a laugh and be congenial about the football. One Brighton stalwart miming the rhythm of our chants shouted down at us from above the train platform something about is being f’ing London scum, but the police accosted him right away! Now that’s taking the hospitality a little far, poor man!

  23. Kos operating on the right side is not the same as Kos on the left. Monreal-Kos is a weak central pairing that hopefully with Gabriel Paulista’s imminent arrival we won’t see again in upcoming games.

  24. Further exacerbated by Chambers at RB and Flamini as DM. That has to be among our weakest defensive set ups altogether. But we managed to get away with it. Coquelin comes back in straightaway. Same for Bellerin when fit.

    Happy to see Theo and Ozil make an impact, but the match was TR’s. Sublime. AW said in the presser after: if you love football, you love Rosicky!


  25. It’s time for Walcott to start getting more game time.
    He just adds goal threat to our 1st 11 even when he isn’t playing particularly well.
    Glad to see Ozil score hopefully he can kick on from here.
    Chambers is showing he clearly is as comfortable at right back, good going foward suspect defending though.
    Wengers days he sees no work permit issues for Paulista, guess he has some inside info.

  26. Chambers is a project–talented but very young and inexperienced. Probably played more already than was expected and naturally will be inconsistent. But he is a decent defender centrally, I think and has the attributes for a CB or DM with his skill on the ball, passing. His anticipation defensively to intercept rather than react by tackling rashly will come in time. But out wide, despite good delivery he just doesn’t have the foot speed to mark modern forwards/wingers from that position or to recover when he’s gone forward.

  27. I agree with Wavey that Chuba Akpom showed some talent and promise in his brief appearance. With some match time he will improve. But now we have contract issues. I think he should get some subs as DW is still two weeks away. At home if we are up, he could play v. Villa in the 2nd half. I liked what I saw. He competed fiercely, was quick and skilled. Just needed some better decisions here and there, understandably.

  28. Phil, I don’t know if disinterested, but certainly out of his comfort zone on the right with Chambers one side and Monreal the other, it would be a test as the experienced CB. I think the back 4 we had was also very deficient in any kind of organizing, vocal leadership. That is an issue. Against a PL side, we would be very porous set up like that. Exposed down the centre and right.

  29. Hope we keep hold of jenkinson to be fair to the lad he has got his head down at West Ham and established well and truly in Fat Samsung 1st 11. With debuchy as the experienced established right back Bellerin might have to go out on loan next season with a view to both Bellerin and jenkinson as future arsenal right backs.

  30. What a show by Little Mozart yesterday, pure class. Ozil put in a shift also, so glad to have him and Theo back. Kos and Monreal doesnt really work too well as a partnership does it. At least not with 2 full backs that go forward at the same time! Both Chambers and Gibbs really need to look across the field at their fellow fullback and hold their position if the other has gone forward. Chambers also has a tendency to drift infield when in the oppositions half – what the hell is that about? Only way he should be moving infield is to either tuck into a narrow back line or to cover in behind his centrehalf.

  31. Just watched a rerun of MoTD2…

    I cant believe Phil Nevilles comments, he said that his son would be in ‘awe’ of Rosicky’s sublime skill of giving the Brighton defender the eyes and then passing in the opposite direction which lead to the goal….

    But the gormless one then carries on and says that if he was playing and that happended he would ‘smash Rosicky’ and give him a 2 footed challenge as it just wasnt on to be taking the mickey like that…..

    However as these comments were just made by a man who recently confessed he didnt know how you actually made a cup of tea we shouldnt be supried!!!

  32. Bizarre that England defender regards skill and guile as taking the Mickey to be punished violent tackling. It is misdirection and gives you the advantage, the same as a dribbling skill. What is wrong with this guy!

  33. @LSG

    I was just ready what Neville said. Isn’t it funny how people do that all the time yet now its worth a 2 footed tackle!

  34. Look, you may as well spill the beans about Jonny/ We’ll get it out of one of you at the next ACLF piss up, I mean, meet up.

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