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“She wore a yellow ribbon in the month of May!” – May FA Cup final memories…

FA Cup winners 2015

As it’s May, there are naturally numerous FA Cup final wins to reminisce on. May is the month of FA Cup finals of course, so why not reminisce on some cup finals.
It’s a shame that our friends from the N17 postcode have no recent memories of such.

As we’re record FA Cup winners, then we have many to savour.

These stand out for me though. It’s a mix of emotive points and those that just stick out in my mind more. I have omitted some, of course, but that’s no disrespect or ungratefulness towards winning on those occasions:

 

 

2014 – 3-2 vs. Hull City AET

 

Wenger might have lost his job if Arsenal lost 2014 final ...

It had been nine years since our last trophy – oddly enough the FA Cup vs. Man United. We had bottled the league despite leading it for most of the season, and in this game had gone 2-0 down due to a well-worked set-piece and not tracking runners properly from a corner. Gibbs did well to head off the line from a header, since it could well have been 3-0.

What stood out for me though was our tenacity and the joy of winning after the initial setback. Cazorla and Kos scored in regular time, whilst Ramsey popped up with the winner in extra-time.

Despite the deserved win over 120 minutes, we didn’t make it easy for ourselves, but then it ended a very long wait for a trophy.

 

2015 – 4-0 vs. Aston Villa

 

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We were favourites vs. Hull the year prior and made hard work of it despite being the better side overall.
This game saw us as favourites again, and against a Villa side holding pedigree in the cup themselves (seven wins, albeit most of which many decades ago).
Unlike the Hull final though, we BATTERED Villa. From start to finish, we were dominant.

Villa could have had a pen towards the end which may have made things more interesting.
But overall, it was a stellar performance.

The highlight for me though was Alexis’s long-range effort, which swerved like a test cricket fast bowler’s delivery. Much is said of Gerrard’s strike in 2006 final, but this for me was better. Alexis left Arsenal on a sour note, but then he arguably was our finest player in the Emirates era.

 

 

2017 – 2-1 vs. Chelsea

 

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Chelsea under Conte had won the league, and the seasons for both clubs had a funny irony. It was a 3-0 win at our place against them that forced Conte’s hand into playing a new formation, which arguably won them the league at a canter.
And so it was us who denied them a Double, despite being underdogs.
Alexis scored again when he literally passed the ball to himself in the opening minutes. There was a hint of Ramsey being offside, though he didn’t touch the ball as Alexis reached it after running yards into the box after a ricochet.

And despite Costa equalising late on, Ramsey scored another winner to see us regain our FA Cup record, as Man United equalled it the previous year vs. Crystal Palace.
Everyone to a man had an outstanding game, and the much beleaguered Arsene Wenger left Wembley with smiles after securing the most ever FA Cup wins as a manager (seven – 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2014, 2015, 2017).

What’s also pleasing is that our good friends lost to Chelsea in the semis, and we schooled them in the final. And they finished second compared to our fifth place, with literally the best side they had since the late Billy Nicholson’s heyday. Oh so sweet.

 

 

2005 – Arsenal 0-0 Manchester United AET – Arsenal 5-4 United pens.

 

Arsenal's 18 FA Cup finals - in pictures - Telegraph

 

Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t really get along at this point. Things mellowed afterwards, largely since Fergie started to see Wenger as a fellow man and not just a rival. We weren’t really United’s rivals in the coming years, as the break-up of the Invincibles and the Emirates’s construction saw us fall away.

However, despite having no Henry in this game, United bossed it. They hit the bar multiple times, and we were lucky to get away with that.

Ronaldo, Rooney and co. were in good form, and the late Reyes God rest his soul got sent off towards the end.

The penalty shoot-out saw PL and United legend Scholes miss, and Arsenal legend Vieira popped up for literally his last kick for Arsenal. It was an end to a glorious Arsenal career, and from seemingly nowhere Vieira was an immense figure in our midfield and surely a PL, Arsenal, and France national team great.

Wenger got one over his old rival, and this was our last trophy until us beating Hull City in the 2014 Cup Final.

 

 

1998 – 2-0 vs. Newcastle United

 

My favourite game: Arsenal v Newcastle, 1998 FA Cup final ...

We had won the league a few weeks prior with a win vs. Everton at home.
But the Cup was in our sights, and we had Dalglish, Shearer and company to face at Wembley.
Despite the then England captain hitting the post in the second half, we cruised to a 2-0 win, and despite being an unknown figure in English football, Wenger had won a Double in his first full season.
Overmars grabbed the first goal, and Anelka (remember him?) scored the second to top off a glorious season.
What’s more is that our form at Christmas that season was weak, despite starting well, and few would have thought we would have won the league and Cup. The turning point was, supposedly, a meeting where the team thrashed out issues, with Adams supposedly calling for Vieira and Petit to help protect the defence better. This meeting certainly did the trick, and Adams took his time to lift another FA Cup for us. He would do so again in 2002, in a win vs. Chelsea at the Millenium Stadium in Wales.

 

1993 – 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday aet replay (first game 1-1)

 

On this day: Andy Linighan's header proves a dagger to the hearts ...

Back in these days, the FA Cup had way more replays. These have been curtailed greatly since then, but this final was one of the last to be played over more than one game.
We were favourites, after beating the Owls in the League Cup final (oddly enough by a 2-1 margin).
Wright (Wright, Wright) scored early on, with former Spud Waddle equalising, and then Andy Linighan heading at the very end of extra time to win the Cup.
Linighan was an able deputy for Adams and Bould, and in some ways was an early 1990s Gilles Grimandi. Perhaps not the best technically, but could do a job when called upon. He really should be given more kudos for winner, even some of our prime legends haven’t scored cup final winners.

These are some picks from my lifetime, as I wasn’t around for the 1979 and 1971 cup finals as these are surely classic moments in our FA Cup history. The FA Cup has been devalued due to a number of factors. From appeasing Sir Alex Ferguson in moving the Third Round to December in 1999 (due to United playing in the Club World Cup), to having the final on the last day of PL fixtures, and the growth of the Champions League. Let’s not forget that there aren’t many romantic finals any more. The 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and many upsets and minnows defeating giants. West Ham, Sunderland, Ipswich Town, Coventry, and Wimbledon were all in this bracket. West Ham and Ipswich beat us no less. Since the PL started, it’s overwhelming been the big boys that have won it – with Portsmouth in 2008 and Wigan in 2013 being the exceptions.

Football may well be coming back soon – as the Bundesliga is the seeming guiding light for the PL, La Liga and Serie A to re-commence.

Doesn’t mean we can’t reminisce.

And hopefully, if the FA Cup is to resume, it could be a record 14th triumph?

At least we can win something, when our “friends” with their “world-class” manager and “glorious training ground” (when London Colney is still highly-rated) can’t.

 

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