United Preview & From The Vaults: 1906 – Arsenal’s Glorious FA Cup Victory

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Matchday. When all the talk of the previous week is put its proper place and context; it’s just talk. Tonight is about delivering on those words.

The FA Cup Quarter-Final stage. The last eight. The prize? A trip to Wembley which is just so wrong. You can argue that staging the semi-finals there enables more fans to see the match. It does but so would reducing the number of tickets dished out to sponsors, suits and assorted liggers.

Does holding the two semi-finals in the national stadium impinge on the glamour of the final? It does, in my view, but no more than ticket prices and ridiculous kick-off times.

Which is brings us nicely back to this evening. I like watching Arsenal at any time of the week but 8pm on a Monday night, knowing that there was a perfectly good slot left unused yesterday? It’s broadcasting gone mad as far as football is concerned, the television companies ruling the roost by a step too far.

Former players, the great and the good, they all talk about how the glamour of the FA Cup must be restored but the spineless negotiating of the Football Association lets them down and adds a layer of rust to a once great tournament.

And then you go and win it, making it a great tournament once more…

Arsenal head to Manchester tonight, turning up at Old Trafford for an 8pm kick-off at the behest of the BBC. No coincidence, I’m sure, that the majority of Auntie’s staff for this occasion work in Salford and will be tucked up a lot earlier than the hardy souls making their way south on the motorway network.

Old Trafford, the self-proclaimed Theatre of Dreams; it’s been a nightmare for Arsenal in the last decade with an abysmal record of one draw and nine defeats in their last ten visits. It’s been a decade since our last win there, a well-deserved three points earned by Emmanuel Adebayor’s goal.

But you knew that already, it’s been mentioned enough in the media since Wednesday’s win at Loftus Road. The victors, it’s claimed, will be handed a big boost over their rivals in the race for the top four places. I’m not sure it will be psychological in the sense of superiority between the two but confidence? There’s no doubt that going into a tough run of fixtures, United would gain some impetus.

Arsenal meanwhile still retain a sense of fragility, that each defeat in a big match weighs heavy with the impact lingering. Crucially, the two setbacks in the past month or so have seen wins in subsequent games even if the performances have been far from convincing. It isn’t the mental strength attributed to champions or challengers for that matter but for this season, it will have to do.

If you look at the two sides, Arsenal go into the match slight favourites in terms of abilities. The problem comes with organisation. Van Gaal will organise his side well, that is one of his strengths but they can be vulnerable at home with disciplined performances – Southampton proved that in January.

Neither side is anywhere near displaying the consistent quality of their prime when they held sway over the English game. Defeat this evening offers Arsenal the typically early end to interest in the end-of-season honours and it’s a feeling United are getting used to following Ferguson’s retirement.

A sense of being hard done by emerged in Arsène’s press conference last week. The injustice of the home defeat to United in November rang through but Arsenal were wasteful in front of goal and didn’t defend diligently enough. Hit on the counter, they were suitably punished. If that injustice sparks greater concentration, effort and accuracy tonight, they won’t be hollow words.

That’s the key to not being knocked out. Ideally Arsenal will win tonight but a draw is nowhere near the issue that many believe. Let’s face it, we will have plenty of free mid-weeks after the second leg of the Champions League clash with Monaco.

Thankfully, Arsène has pledged to field a strong side, avoiding the farcical weakened line-ups of yesteryear. Last season underlined the impact of putting out as close to the first choice XI as possible. With injuries striking, the choices are more limited.

The back four and goalkeeper pretty much pick themselves. Nacho Monreal might find himself back into the starting line-up. Arsène’s biggest choice is midfield; Aaron Ramsey or Santi Cazorla alongside Francis Coquelin. It’s a no-brainer if the Welshman is fit; Cazorla has done well enough in the home matches against lesser sides but Monaco proved that we need more defensive energy in the position.

The question then becomes who makes way from the attacking line-up? The evening seems set for the work rate of Alexis and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. If that is the criteria, Danny Welbeck’s inclusion makes sense, particularly with the added spice of a homecoming to throw into the mix. However, the downside is that this trio lends itself to a direct, counter-attacking style which whilst not devoid of flair, is less inventive than normal.

It leaves the line-up as:

Perhaps that is what we need. Quick breaks from the back of hardworking defence. Over-elaboration has cost us dearly in this fixture before and United will be set to break up play. The reality is that Arsène will fit both Özil and Cazorla into the line-up, most likely at the expense of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Welbeck.

As with the last three Premier League meetings between the two sides, it’s a match Arsenal are eminently capable of winning such is United’s fall from grace. As those three meetings proved, we can be as far away as ever from doing so. And yet, I think it’s a match we will win.

Let’s hope that feeling in the stomach is right and not a sign of a medical problem.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

From The Vaults

12th March 1906. No Highbury, the club had yet to move to their spiritual home and Woolwich Arsenal was still the proper form of address. No Old Trafford either, Manchester United were equidistant from dropping Newton Heath to building their home.

This though, was the first meeting between the two sides in the FA Cup. Neither side had reached the final with the winner facing the prospect of their first semi-final.

United were second in the Second Division, a position they would finish the season in following a run of one defeat in sixteen matches. Arsenal were seventeenth in Division One, just two points above the relegation places. A similarly strong run saw them move into the comfort of mid-table, ending the season in eleventh, yet again the highest finish achieved by a London side in the Football League.

OK, so they were the only London side in the Football League but that’s just nit-picking. Arsenal went on to lose to Newcastle United in the semi-final, who suffered defeat at the hands of Everton at Crystal Palace in the final.

United would have to wait another forty-five years to defeat Arsenal in the FA Cup.

’til Tomorrow.

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193 thoughts on “United Preview & From The Vaults: 1906 – Arsenal’s Glorious FA Cup Victory

  1. Cbob

    Monreal was the only one out there with two men on him. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    They are stretching us though. Using Di Maria down our left a lot more now.

  2. We are going to concede from the ball over the top.

    Everyball over the top has us shaking in our boots.

  3. They are so much more dangerous than us and we are giving them too much space.
    I don’t mind us dropping deep, but we have to send one player to the ball at least.

  4. @moe

    Nope Theo Was set to come on and then put in Ramsey instead. I would have put on Theo so his pace can be used against Rojo.

    I feel for Ox.

  5. Wavey

    He was coming on before the Chamberlain injury.

    Then Arsene decided to change it to Ramsey for more stability,probably.

  6. Cannot believe there is still 22mins to this game left.

    We look so nervy.

    Chambers getting beat on the outside, to be expected.

  7. Bellerin picking up that yellow card so cheaply in the 1st half shows his youthful exuberance. He will learn. I hope Chambers is up to the pace.

    For all the W Schzney proponents his kicking from defence has been abysmal.

    OG would never have got to that ball as he does not have the pace of Welbeck. Welbeck was very nervous 1st half

    Bob has Northbank been about recently?

  8. hah when was the last time a ref had balls enough to send someone off at Old Trafford?? that is hardcore!

  9. but thugging at a refs shirt after receiving yellow for throwing yourself onto the ground is never a good idea

  10. Suicidal defending now. Not shutting up shop, but not going for it either. Can’t work out what we are trying to do.

  11. but wtf is chambers doing trying to play a ball like that, can’t we just keep the ball ?!!

  12. Monreal had a slight tug of his shirt outside the area. He waited until he was in the area to go down.

  13. That is a bloody miracle. Overdue, but miraculous. Especially watching an unbiased ref at Old Trafford.

  14. There was only one ‘man of the match’ tonight! The Ref.!!! Spot on…..through out! Makes up for the countless the number of times we’ve been gutted in big games where we played great but were screwed by lousy ref calls

  15. Great win! Just saw some highlights on arsenalist.com

    The expression on the ref’s face after the Di Maria back slap is priceless.

  16. Feels good indeed.

    To be fair, I think finishing 3rd is important. May be the result will help our confidence?

  17. Also let’s give Arsene some credit. I think Ramsey coming on was the game decider. We started bossing the midfield.

  18. I was wrong, I thought we’d not show up. We showed up all right. De Gea (can we have him?) kept it at 2-1.
    Oh God this is so great. I’ve been annoying the neighbours in my flats, loud singing at the TV.
    I have no idea how a Red member attempts to get a semi final ticket, but I have to try.

  19. we finally put that one to bed. after so much pain of watching us outplay utd at trafford and come away with nothing we did it.

  20. and finally a ref with balls galore and taking no shit whatsoever. thats something we never had when we go up there.

  21. Fantastic game today. Credit to Arsene, the players and our away fans tonight. In such a good mood now.

    Another thing, can anyone have seen a refereeing performance like that at OT with Fergie in charge?

  22. Great great win.
    Deservedly so.
    Open game, but I thought our balance was pretty good between attacking and defensive play.

  23. Oliver is the bravest ref in football. Helps that Fergie is gone. Get used to it Mancs! You are a normal club now!

    Loving this!

  24. Thought the bringing on of Ramsay for the Ox, and moving Ozil out, was one of the poorest subs for some time. We lost our attacking threat I felt. Had the other effect of rubbing Theo’s nose in it. Bring him on later, no problem.
    But the replacing of Bellerin was one of his best. Bellerin was lucky to be on the pitch to be subbed off the pitch.

  25. love it.
    fellaini putting himself about like a cheap slapper, rooney bending the refs ear all game and getting nowhere…manc players going back to basics and diving to try to win and getting nowhere…love it…the prodigal son returning….lord I see the light.
    finally the good prevails..

  26. Lets also talk about how Welbeck decided to stand up and pounce when the opportunity struck. Also, how cool, calm and collected was Nacho in taking his goal.

  27. As I expected :

    Ox started o account of pace and good form. I think he gave united a torrid time and somethingelse to think about when we break other than Alexis.

    Also Welbeck. His pace was suited for this game and he may have benefited from a bit of motivation in LVG.

    Coquelin was also a huge difference bravely battling against their danger man Rooney.

    Santi and Ozil had a great game too in midfield where we constantly out manouvered them.

    Finally at the back, Metersecker was colossal against the despicable Fellaini. He was rested recently and is seeing the benefits of it. So much for lack of pace.

    Who said we didn’t do the big teams?

    WEMBELEY WEMBELEY…;)

  28. Also, some of our more seniors players stepped up as well, Mert, Santi and Ozil played well.

    Just well done and job well done Arsene for getting it right.

  29. Brilliant job; this was a great team win.

    We did get some calls tonight that we haven’t seen at OT in a generation. Graham Poll was interviewed last year and said that he always hated it when ManU had a rough game because he knew he’d get withering criticism from SAF. This the dean of English refs who admitted, in effect, he was intimidated by red nose. I thought it was shocking that an official would admit this in public.

    Sorry Mancs, your crappy simulation won’t save you this time.

  30. I have not seen so many blatant diving attempts since the World Cup and the Dutch team. I find these ridiculous methods of attempting to attract the attention of the ref. absolutely revolting and completely unprofessional.

  31. First YW, we are progressing past Monaco. Said it, I believe it, I know we are very capable of beating those lads. I still recall the win at Inte, have some hope.

    I applaud AW for the subs he made last night. Common sense prevailed other than his usually philosophical approach.

    Özil did a much better defensive job than he usually does. Got stuck in to win the ball back after he lost possession. Must have listened to the criticism of Gary and Scholes.

    Coquelin! What a fighter and an intelligent one we have! Fellaini won a couple of duels against him at the start. Then he decided he will let him have the first touch, then contest for the second – that worked really well to the extent that Fellaini at some stage was forced into consecutive niggling fouls that earned him a booking.

    Koscielny and Per guilty of abysmal marking for Rooney’s goal. Schezny not the knight that broke into the first team as a teen. His game got stuck somewhere. He used to be comparable to De Gea but look how the later has grown in the few years compared to him.

    Carzola should’ve scored that goal. I don’t care how good the save was.

    Alexis his hardwork is keeping him in the team despite a loss of form. If he could only make more one touch passes!

    Plaudits to the ref. Welbeck could’ve done a lot better if he had more confidence. It seems to have evaporated with lack of game time and being played out wide. Or was it the nervousness of homecoming?

    Monreal – great player! Immaculate defensively, knows just when to go forward and had a beautiful finish!
    Bellerin can only get better. At his age, everything is a learning experience. Lucky to go off the right way. Should be thankful for Rojo for his foul on Santi.

    Didn’t like how we lost our work rate when they went one man down. We were neither attacking or defending. We were just one fuck up away from gifting them an equaliser.

  32. Proper cup tie, brilliant night. Arsenal fans were tremendous up there. Players showed some guts. Ozil even put in a tackle! Brave referee, brave decisions by AW on the lineup, and brave fighting performance by the team. Electric!

    This is the kind moment that we’ve wanted to see and have been so rare for us. Something to savor and really enjoy.

  33. Firstly, a lot of positives last night. Ozil had a good game, first time in a big game? Not stellar, but good

    We were up for the fight and never looked like losing the tie

    Kudos to Le Coq and Monreal, both had another good game. Probably two of our most consistent performers this season. Interesting when Le Coq has only been around for half a season!

    Wenger made suitable subs that were appropriate reactions to in game developments that aren’t just injury forced

    The team collectively dealt with their strategy of high/early pressing

    We won! And what a draw too!

    Right, reality check time

    The ref was man of the match last night. Defending less than five minutes after going one nil up was laughable. Great ball from Di Maria, but seriously, we let their only goal threat walk into the area and gave him ten yards of space.

    Predictably, Rooney and Di Maria had good games and Fellani was a nusance. Other than that the only real jewel they’ve got is De Gea. He stopped us scoring when we should’ve and was let down by his team mates when we did score and to some extent had no right to! This United team is so poor that this should’ve been much more comfortable. The real worry coming when they went down to ten. The game plan was betwixt and between. As much as we’ve mocked it, that would’ve been a lovely twenty minutes to play keep ball for as long as possible at a snails pace

    I would’ve thought that we could’ve tired them and made more of quick breaks when the overloaded trying to win the ball back. Having dealt with that well, it was slightly disappointing to not capitalise more in those situations

    Still not convinced about Welbeck leading the line. I know, I know…. He scored, we won, what more do I want? Well, frankly, to be a bit more convinced

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