Early Cup Thoughts & From The Vaults: 1993 – Wright Chops Down Forest

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I’m not sure what to make of it to be honest. No disparagement to Brentford FC, players and supporters but I’m genuinely puzzled by the accolade. Wojciech Szczesny left a huge impression at Griffin Park in his six month loan spell, to the extent that he was named their “Goalkeeper of the Decade“.

It’s the level of expectation I have of an Arsenal goalkeeper – of any player – that they should be in contention for that honour. Even so, 28 games is a short time in which to be crowned ‘King of the Hill’ and probably says more about the level of football they were gracing through the first decade of this century than anything else.

No doubt we’ll get a taste of his abilities on Sunday as he returns to the starting line-up for the FA Cup Fifth Round tie against Middlesbrough. His won’t be the only new face but I suspect that Arsène has plenty to ponder given the performances against Tottenham and Leicester. Neither were encouraging although the latter more explicable given the defeat in the former.

His mind will be churning with the injuries suffered. It’s too soon, surely, for Jack Wilshere to start a match and with Aaron Ramsey already labelled ‘doubtful’ for either leg of the Champions League tie against Monaco

Olivier Giroud sighed wistfully as he recalled his time at Tours and the near escape he had when Middlesbrough and Celtic both expressed an interest in his services. And then he offered the usual platitudes about respect and focus to ensure that Arsenal don’t follow Manchester City’s suit into the FA Cup’s waste paper bin. God knows we could do without that this season. It’s been an utter disappointment in the Premier League with last season’s stepping stone built on quicksand. A good run does lift the spirits and this opportunity, coming on the back of last season’s triumph, is a bright spot.

Look, it’s really quiet so time for a trip down memory lane. On this day in 1993, Nottingham Forest arrived at Highbury for an FA Cup Fifth Round tie having waited nearly three weeks to find out who their opponents would be. Ian Wright had made the trip to Yeovil worthwhile, a glorious chip for the third made a long journey to the western edges of this realm worthwhile.

There followed an epic struggle with Leeds; two-down against the defending champions seemed a desperate situation but Ray Parlour and Paul Merson hauled Arsenal back into the competition. Merson’s late curling effort was one of the key moments in the season. The replay at Elland Road was won with a smash-and-grab performance in ninety minutes preceding extra time when Arsenal’s fitness proved vital and Ian Wright once more the difference close to the final whistle.

It set up the match with a Forest side who were struggling to avoid relegation. It wasn’t even glorious failure come May as they had been in the bottom three virtually all season. Arsenal meanwhile were twelfth, having lost seven of the previous eleven Premier League games, winning just one of the other four. The cups were providing light relief.

This match stands out in the memory for Wright’s brace which won the tie. It was a familiar feeling; if Wright didn’t score, you wondered where the goals were coming from. To this point, Arsenal had managed three goals or more just three times in all competitions – Yeovil and Leeds in the FA Cup, Palace in the League Cup- and would do so three more times before the end of the season.

But when Wright was in the mood…

nf nf1

58 thoughts on “Early Cup Thoughts & From The Vaults: 1993 – Wright Chops Down Forest

  1. 2nd and guys…we need to win the FA cup but also 4th is no longer good enough, 3rd means no play off round. Those play offs are getting tougher, don’t forget my fellow fans if Demba Ba had connected with that header it would have been lights out at the top table for us. Really a good unrushed pre season prep and no qualifiers will see us in good shape into the coming season – then we can come 2nd! Okay not 2nd but I think it would be better for us of course. So I take 3rd and FA Cup beating MANU at any stage, don’t want to face liverpool, because as much as I hate their sense of entitlement and Gerrard bottom licking they are dangerous going forward and we look stuck in the headlights when someone does have a go at us with real purpose, pace and tenacity (see spurs). Also I think I’m getting old , I watched the spurs game and did not feel hard done by, by the result, we simply did not deserve to win based on that performance. Anyway love the arsenal not Stan “non minimum wage paying” Kroenke

  2. Sczny being Goalkeeper of the Decade is still puzzling but so be it, congratulations to our Young Pole. Hopefully the time spent will allow him to find the hunger and desire to get back to his best because he surely is a top young keeper when he is focused.

    We really do need to win this and the FA Cup, it would be really good to win back to back cups. Ian Wright, what a fantastic striker he was and such a joy to watch. Isn’t it interesting that if Wright didn’t score nobody did, kind of sounds like this Arsenal early in the season(Sanchez) and for much of last season(Ramsey for the most part).

  3. So based on Arsene’s comments, it sounds like Gabriel is going to start, Sczny is going to start, Sanchez probably won’t feature and Jack could very well start but will certainly be in the team.

  4. Thanks for the post YW. Not sure what to think about Wojo anymore. We often talk about all of his talent, yet he has lost his place a couple times now. Sometimes I think its a curse rather then a blessing for a player of his age to be thrown into the starting line up. He was certainly not ready in 2011 and his inconsistency was one of the reasons ouir title challenge melted down. It certainly was not his fault that he was not ready. He started the season as 3rd choice but Almunia was not the answer and unfortunately Fabianski was injured. Other players like Denilson and Wilshere have struggled after being given to much responsibility as teenagers. Hopefully the same thing won’t affect Bellerin or Chambers. We rightly criticize Arsene for starting this season without adequate cover at RB, CB, CF and not enough goal scoring firepower, however, credit where its due because he was very smart to get Ospina. I suspect there were a places that Ospina could have gone and been guaranteed of being first choice when he came back from injury but Arsene lured him here.

  5. @Bill

    Podolski was left off of the Europa squad, atleast from reports and doing a bit of research, because they had too many foreign players and it was down to him or Shaquiri and Mancini went with Shaquiri. I do think that his time at Arsenal is up especially with Akpom coming through the ranks but I do think that as an impact sub he would do well but sadly its over at Arsenal for Prince Poldi. He will probably head back to Germany.

  6. C

    I really hope Akpom goes on loan next season. We need experienced players like Rosicky and arteta and hopefully Podolski in the squad. They are much better suited to the roles as spot starters and in podolski’s case he should be the perfect impact sub. Everyone wants to play more but players like those 3 are much better suited for those roles and if they are willing to accept and embrace the roles then they can be real assets.

  7. @Bill

    I’m sure Akpom will go on loan next season especially if Campbell performs well at Villarreal and comes back. I think Mozart could be back in the squad next season and I know Arteta apparently signed a new 1 year deal, honestly I get what you are saying about experienced players but I also think that getting a top quality DM, have Le Coq as back up and selling Arteta and letting Flamini goes is a real option. I want better quality squad players to be honest, Mozart is still quality and Santi as well(who I think will be more squad player with the return of Jack given Arsene’s love fest with Jack).

  8. C

    We disagree about arteta. I still think when he is healthy that he is still a very useful player. No way that arteta is a regular starter but hopefully he can stay healthy if we use him sparingly and in the correct role. One the other hand you could say that we should not have a player in the squad who is not capable of being a regular if the need arises. That is the counterpoint in arteta’s case and its a very reasonable argument.

  9. @Bill

    If we get a top quality DM, Arteta will no longer be needed or essential to the team. Le Coq will then become teh squad player at DM that can come in and do a job when called upon. I do think that Arteta was a useful player but the difference when he has played and when Le Coq has played is visible. I like Arteta and would personally thank him for what he has done for Arsenal but his time has passed.

  10. C

    Ideally I think our best team would be a new DM and arteta as the back up and Le Coq would have to accept that he will get arteta’s job as back up in another year or at most 2 years and Le Coq would go back to starter if the first choice DM got hurt. If we did that we would have to be willing to pull the plug on arteta quickly if he could not stay healthy even as the first back up DM.

  11. C

    The whole team was poor and never switched on in the first 15 games but you forget that the better games that we did play early this season were games that we had arteta. That is partly coincidence but Arteta still did the job when he played.

    Le Coq has done a workman like job and held the fort nicely. However I have little doubt that arteta would be back in the first 11 if he was able to stay healthy when he played regularly.

  12. @Bill

    Arteta can’t stay fit this season, so going into next season, another year older I doubt he will be able to stay fit. I would rather have Le Coq as backup to a new DM and Arteta(if still here) the “Mozart” of the group, doesn’t always make the bench but just around with the big difference that he doesn’t see a lot of match time.

    Actually, the matches that Arteta did play earlier in the season where not some of our better showings outside of the Villa match(which was dominated by Ozil and Welbeck). To be honest, there is no point about talking about “what-if” Arteta can stay fit because he can’t this season and when he does come back he will need a couple of matches to get back into the flow of the match and to be honest, at this point, he simply doesn’t have the legs to cope with being a DM on a side that is a title challenging side.

    For me, one of the biggest reasons that Le Coq has done well is that he has the legs and athleticism to deal with players in space and be able to press without getting turned around.

    I like Arteta but his time has passed at Arsenal if we want to actually be title challengers. Now if we are content with the 4th place trophy then Arteta will remain as our DM.

  13. C

    We disagree about something, what a shocker that is! 😉

    Like it or not arteta is going to be here and I think he is still an effective DM and I like the experience and calm he brings when he plays. It’s a gamble and I hope his body can tolerate the role. If he can’t then we have to be willing to pull the plug.

  14. @Bill

    I know he will be here since he just signed a new contract(1 year deal), but you can’t be effective if you aren’t fit and can’t stay fit.

    Here’s a question that you should ask yourself if you are really the trophy slut you claim to be: Can we truly win the PL with Arteta as are first choice DM? If no is your answer then he needs to be replaced.

  15. How much chance is there of adding another DM when Arsene has given new contracts to Le Coq and Arteta this season and also bought Bielik?

  16. c

    If that is the criteria you use to make a decision then we should replace almost all of the squad players and I would argue that some of the regulars also need to be jettisoned

  17. Arsene Wenger has hinted at a summer move for Porto star Jackson Martinez, after admitting his admiration for the striker.

    Martinez has been tipped to move to the Premier League in the last two transfer windows but a deal had yet to materialise.

    But Arsenal appear to be very keen on making a move over the summer, if Wenger’s comments are anything to go by.

    ‘Top physical strengths,’ he said about Martinez when speaking to beIN Sports. ‘Hugely efficient, he is the kind of player who can make room for himself in the box.

    ‘He could play in the Premier League because he has the body to make the difference. He uses it in a very intelligent way. Very short back lift and he’s a very good finisher.

    ‘He’s on the list of many clubs, you know that. He will be the next big transfer who will give a big smile to Pinto da Costa [Porto’s owner].’

  18. C

    you mention players on the squad that we would have a difficult time winning the PL with them as our regulars, how about getting a shiny new striker? I want a new DM too, but I still think a new striker would be a bigger difference maker.

  19. Chances of a new DM arriving in the summer? Slim to zero I’d say.

    A striker remains a distinct possibility. I like Wellbeck but, no matter his aspirations, a finisher he is not. Giroud has shown steady improvement but, as AW’s cooing noises suggest, I think we all know we could do better.

    Outside of that, unless there are unexpected departures, it’s hard to see what business we might do come the summer.

    If Rosicky finishes the season playing as well as he is presently, I do hope we will offer him another year.

  20. @Jonny

    I did see that, I have always like Jackson Martinez. I just don’t see Arsene bringing him in with Giroud still here and him just signing Welbeck. Though if you click on the link that I provided earlier, he does have quite a devilish grin when he is talking about him so you just never know.

  21. @Bill

    That is my criteria for players that are older and nearing the end or at the end of their contract. I do think that a new DM is necessary and I don’t think you will find many that disagree. If your asking me about back-ups, well Le Coq just signed a new contract and has done well, Arteta can’t stay fit this season and a new DM is needed.

  22. 25 man squad

    Ospina, Wojo, 3rd GK

    Jenks, Debuchy, BFG, Kos, Gabriel, experienced 4th CB, Nacho Gibbs

    New starting DM, Arteta, Le Coq

    Ozil, Cazorla, Rosicky, Ramsey, Wilshere

    Theo, Ox, Giroud, New striker, Alexis, Welbeck.

    That is a very solid squad IMO. Adding a new striker, DM, 4th choice CB. Lots of our younger players would have the opportunity to go on loan.

    I would not mind selling either Wilshere or Cazorla to help fund the acquisitions but the fact that Wilshere, Ramsey and Rosicky all stuggle with injuries means we need lots of cover for those 2 midfield spots. If we did not need that much cover for those spots then we could add either Podolski or Campbell upfront but that would be big risk for the midfield.

  23. @Bill

    I wouldn’t mind a shiny new striker, make no mistake about it. I like Welbeck I really do and think that he actually compliments the likes of Theo, Sanchez, Ozil, Santi and Ox when it comes to our attackers. I do think that he is going to come good but having that pure finisher is never a bad thing.

    Problem is though, with Giroud, Welbeck and the potential return of Campbell to add to are wingers/strikers that I just don’t see one coming in unless somebody or multiple players get sold.

  24. If we move Ox to the midfield then we could sell either Wilshere or Cazorla. Welbeck is a back up winger/striker and Giroud/Welbeck would make an excellent group of back up strikers. That would leave room to add another goal scoring winger. Theo and Alexis and a new winger rotating into the 2 wing positions would be awesome but another major acquisition is way to much to ask for in one season.

  25. @Bill

    I do think that Ox will play both CM and winger going forward depending on both players that are fit as well as the opposition. I wouldn’t be opposed to at times seeing a front 3 of Ox/Theo/Sanchez potentially.

    I could see Santi being sold in the summer but don’t bring up selling Jack, people don’t like that.

  26. C

    I think we need a real CF. Occasionally you need someone to hold up the ball and I think Theo and Ox have a grand total of 1 headed goal in their combined careers.. We need to have a least some sort of threat to score on head high crosses.

  27. With regard to talking about selling jack, blogging would not be as much fun if I actually worried about what other people thought about my opinions. 😉

  28. @Bill

    I know we need a real CF, hence why I would keep Welbeck. I would only play a front 3 of Ox/Theo/Sanchez in a match where we are really playing on the counter or against a side that likes to press us. Theo’s movement would give us an out let as well as Sanchez and Ox’s ability to run with the ball at their feet as well as beat their man 1v1.

  29. That’s true, remember it wasn’t too long ago I was talking about Jack + cash for Pogba.

    I would venture to say though if one of them were to get sold, Santi would probably be the most likely given Jack seems to be the one player Arsene seems to really want to fulfill all his potential and be apart of the core players going forward.

  30. C

    You have this fixation with pace and switching spots and firing in through ball after through ball and getting behind the defenses. That all sounds great but I have never seen football played that way against competent defensive teams so I don’t really share your enthusiasm for all of that stuff. I agree with Jonny and I would love a new CF but right now if it’s betwern Welbeck or Giroud I think Giroud is easily the better choice.

  31. My gut feeling is we will be looking at a quality addition into centre midfield.

    Reasons a plenty :

    1) All other areas of squad are pretty much self sufficient now.
    2) We carry two injury prone link players in Jack and Ramsey. Rosicky is not much better.
    3) Arteta is getting on in age and will continue to suffer niggles.
    4) We are missing a Diaby capability
    5) Bielik will need another 2-3 seasons to effectively develop

    I think Coquelin looks good value and on course to solidifying his place. Flamini is a decent back up at an older age and will take a retiring role.

    Arteta if we can move him on could still find utility somewhere and we have a year extension to bargain a reasonable transfer.

    The question will be what type of player we should bring in here.

    As mentioned, I feel we are (have been missing) the Diaby ability to muscle through midfield and add a bit of height centrally when necessary.

    There are a number of good candidates.

    1) Gonalons is having a great season at Lyon. He is the captain so he may difficult to prise away but at 25yrs has plenty of upside and sufficient experience.

    2) Subject to RM’s whims, Khedira could once again find himself at the Exit door. He will be 28yrs, and good experience to replace Arteta. Price could be high if we face other suitors or reasonable comparative if he slips under radar (unlikely). May have some affinity with Ozil.

    3) Another decent option is Gustavo at high flying Wolfsburg who has prospered since leaving Bayern. Also 28yrs, he was part of a litany of pretenders including Melo and MVilla who were suppose to be antidote to our failing defense. With consistent games, he is proving the business.

  32. @Bill

    I do love pace but I also know its not the only way to play futbol. The thing though is that its not just about getting behind the back 4, its about creating the space. Theo’s movement and runs are absolutely a joy to watch but they aren’t just for getting behind the back 4, they also create space for players. You want a new CF(I think that is universal to be quite honest) and a striker that holds up the ball, well they create space too because they draw the CB’s in to them, thus creating space for players to run into behind them and the CB. Isn’t that a big premise behind playing 2 strikers, one striker plays off another, creating space for each other and a big striker flicking the ball on?

  33. i think you can get behind a defense if they aren’t organized and leave a lot of space such as Gala did in both games however you only get behind a good defensive team if they make mistakes. It’s important to have the threat to take advantage of any mistakes and keep the defense honest but the reality is that you don’t get many great thru balls successfully threaded behind a good defense so you can’t build your attacking threat around a bunch of pacey players interchanging and trying to run behind the defense. IMO.

  34. @Santori

    I have a mancrush on Gonalons and think he would be the perfect player for us(ave for a couple seasons now) but as you said, he is club captain and I think just signed a new contract.

  35. @Bill

    Even the best defense can be dragged around with proper movement. Its not just about pace though, again its about creating space and forcing that defense into making a mistake.

    Another thing we will just have to disagree on. But I will say this, when you watch the Chavs attack, Willian, Hazard and Costa are constantly making runs to play on the shoulder and dragging defenders about.

    Wasn’t part of what made players like Henry and Wright so special(amongst the plethora of other things) was their ability to play on the shoulders of the defenders and get in and behind even the best and most organized defenses, maybe I am wrong.

  36. Pace is a good thing but you don’t need incredibly pacey players at all positions to counter attack. Its great when you get someone behind the defense and thru on goal but most successful counter attacks don’t end up with someone 1v 1 vs the GK. It’s usually when you can get the ball into a dangerous area before the defense sets up or getting a 3 on 3 or even a 3 on 2 situation. The movement you talk about is great but once the defense is set up with their backs to goal it’s a lot harder to pull them out of position and you usually have to count on someone like sanchez who can create something and or score himself.

    The most important thing is to have good finishers who can take the chances that you create irregardless of how fast that player can run. Welbeck and Ox both have tons of pace and Ox seems to be very skillful but I am not sure either are going be influential forwards for us unless one or both can learn to be better finishers. I still have a lot of hope for Ox but he needs to get better.

  37. I never said that you have to have pure pace on the counter but it is great to have, though you can’t have a bunch of slow footed players either. Ofcourse its about getting players and the ball into dangerous positions and having the finishers to finish them off. Even with a defense set up you can still have that movement, because there isn’t a defender in the world that wouldn’t need to adjust to a player making a run into a dangerous postion. Yes you do need players like Sanchez, Ozil and others to be able to create and do what they do but simply relying on them also is very difficult.

    I thought the basic thing in futbol is pass and move, we all talk about passing the ball quicker and tempo correct, well we talk about it because the defense has to react or risk being undone, its the same with player movement and I’m not just talking about making runs to get behind the back 4 but also playing on their shoulders and in the space in between the back 4. Its about moving defenders, yup even the best defense in the world.

    I completely agree with you on Ox and to a lesser extent Welbeck. I think Ox needs to add goals to his game.

  38. A lot of counterattacks is getting the ball into the attacking area before the defense sets up then they can’t defend as well when they are disorganized and they are not covering their space and not marking a runner.

    When all of that fails then you need to have other threat such as someone who can head in a cross or even better someone like Alexis who can create and score his own goal.

  39. Wow. The Bill and C show at its finest – like a couple of fencers thrust and parry, tickle and tackle all afternoon – well maybe not the tickle bit – but perhaps cut and thrust.

    Enjoyable! 🙂

    It is almost a spectator sport. Long may it last.

  40. @Bill

    Yes your correct but part of a counter attack is having somebody like Theo, Hazard, and players with pace that can simply blow by everybody and that disorganized defense. How often did we see Henry do that? I mean you even look at a player like Giroud who isn’t blessed with pace, his movement helps to create space when he makes his runs and if the defenders don’t go with him then he is going to get behind them and be wide open in the box, but if they go with him then he creates space for another player.

    Nobody is saying that having a special player like Sanchez who can simply take the ball, make and create a goal but having players that can do so at pace either with physical pace or speed of thought is what you want to be able to have.

    Think about some of the best counter attacking sides, they have pace, finishers and a player or 2 that simply see things before everybody else.

    *Something that I do like about Le Coq is the fact that when he breaks up play, he immediately looks up to start the quick counter. Arteta and Flamini drive me bat shit crazy because they look to play sideways and backwards.

  41. @Henry

    More than likely mate it will last lol, me and Bill tend to disagree on certain things and this just happens to be one of them. So sit back, grab a good Rum & coke and enjoy the show 😉

  42. @Bill

    We just have different views on how futbol is played and how it can be played. For instance, I think Theo has the potential to be a CF and I’m 99.9% sure that you don’t think he can.

    So Aguerro can be one of the best strikers in the world and play up-top by himself yet he isn’t the biggest player in the world, relies mostly on movement and running at players, yet Theo can’t?

  43. theo might be able to make it as a striker but I think he is missing some parts of his game to be a well rounded striker. When in form he is a dangerous winger who can probably score more then most good wingers. Why take him off the wing where he is really good compared to most wingers and move him centrally where he is probably not going to be more then an average to above average striker who provides zero threat in the air. Smart thing is to keep him on the wing and pair him with a multidimensional striker who can do more things for the team. No?

  44. Perhaps the best reason for making theo a striker is that he spends so much of his time drifting centrally that you could argue he leaves the right flank exposed.

  45. C

    You like theo as a striker because it helps to maximize the number of players who run really fast on the pitch at the same time. 😉

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