Coventry City roll into town today, for a 3rd Round tie in the much maligned creation of the late Alan Hardaker O.B.E.
Hardaker was the Secretary of The Football League back in the days of Division’s One to Four, and during the 1960’s, was the main architect of The Football League Cup. His remit was to create a competitor to the all-powerful F.A. Cup.
Those were the days when The Football League and The Football Association were in competition for the running of the professional game in England. The F.A. of course, won out in the end thanks to the creation of the Premier League.
The rest, as ‘they’ say, is history…
The League Cup has been an ‘item’ in the English football calendar, in many different guise’s.
The Milk Cup, The Rumbelows Cup, The Littlewood’s Cup, The Carling Cup and this season, The Capital One Cup but I tend to refer to it as The League Cup, the name that Hardaker intended for it.
The League Cup provided me, as a very young boy, with my first two visit’s to Wembley, vs Leeds United in 1968 and more painfully the infamous mud heap that was the final vs Swindon Town in 1969.
In 1969, because of the turnstile fiddling that went on at Wembley at that time, my Father and I were unable to get to our places on the upper tier terraces. My Father made a fuss and a senior steward, sensing an embarrassing situation that could have exposed their little money-making scam, placated my Dad, by leading us down the tunnel and squeezed us into a large group of fans from Wiltshire… Swindon fans…
My memories of the game are not strong, but I recall a very large women from Wiltshire, fainting after Swindon took the lead.
I also recall Bobby Gould’s equaliser, my first Arsenal goal at Wembley but I mostly recall the exhausted and haunted faces of the Arsenal players as they left the pitch at half-time. The result of a debilitating flu virus that spread throughout the team prior to that final.
Leaving Wembley disappointed twice in a row is not a happy experience but it left me with an affection for The League Cup, and a desire to see my club win it…
I have been fortunate to see The Gunners lift The League Cup twice, 1987, thanks to Charlie Nicholas and 1993, thanks to Paul Merson and Steve Morrow but it rankles with me that Arsenal have not won it for 19 seasons now…
And Birmingham City in 2011 was a very very painful experience…..
Whilst fully understanding Arsenal’s policy to this trophy, a policy I agree with. I would love to see The Gunners lift it, if only to exorcise that awful cock-up between Koscielny and Szczesny, which gifted Alex McLeish’s team the trophy two season’s ago…
My team for tonight would look like this:
Yennaris Djourou Squillaci Santos
Coquelin Eastmond (If he hasn’t left us for Colchester)
Eisfeld Arshavin Gnabry
Subs: Miquel, Olsson, Akpom, Ebecilio, Angha, Watt, Shea…
I doubt much is known about Coventry by many of us and that is not being disrespectful so here are a few statistics to bore you all:
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last eight home meetings with Coventry in all competitions since a 3-0 defeat in August 1993.
- Arsenal won the League Cup in 1987 and 1993 and have been runners-up on five occasions.
- They have qualified for at least the quarter-finals in each of the last nine seasons.
- The Gunners were last knocked out by a non-Premier League club in December 2008, when Championship club Burnley defeated them 2-0 at Turf Moor in the fifth round.
- Their last League Cup defeat by a third-tier side came in November 1983, when Walsall won a fourth-round tie 3-1 at Highbury.
- Coventry have not beaten Premier League opposition in the League Cup since knocking out Manchester United five years ago.
- That is the only occasion they have qualified for the fourth round in 11 seasons.
- The 2-0 victory at Old Trafford was the last time they played in the third round.
Coventry have been going through a tough time of it, the were relegated last season and results haven’t been good so far this campaign. They have not long appointed a new manager in Mark Robins and he’ll be after a good performance form his side.
Robins knows what it’s like to beat Arsenal on their own turf, Robins scored twice on his Norwich debut on the opening day of the inaugural Premier League season in 1992 as the Canaries came from 2-0 down to win 4-2 at Highbury!
Coventry knocked Man Utd out at this stage five years ago at Old Trafford, that was a surprise back then.
We don’t need another tonight.
Written by Allezkev