More Wembley woe to talk about as we are about to embark on what is these days, a surprising yet most welcome return to the big stadium in London. Not the best of course as we have that in The Emirates. Ok, I’m biased!
Personally I think it’s a great shame that the semi-finals are played at Wembley as it takes away the whole point of playing the final on the centre stage. For me, the days of playing at neutral grounds was far better.
As Kev said yesterday, our last trip to this stadium was back in 2011 and it was a day to forget for all Arsenal fans…..
It’s been 15 years since we came away from the London venue with the big jug held high as our fantastic 2-0 victory over Chelsea back in 2002 was at the Millennium Stadium. Two stunning strikes from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg stole the headlines that day and rightly so….
Will a couple of players step up and steal the headlines for us again this weekend? I hope so.
The last time we featured in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley was back in 2009 when we faced Chelsea. Theo Walcott struck the opening goal but Florent Malouda’s equaliser and Didier Drogba’s 84th-minute winner meant there would be no return for the big day.
Arsenal’s Road to Wembley
R3: Tottenham Hotspur (H) 2-0
R4: Coventry City (H) 4-0
R5: Liverpool (H) 2-1
R6: Everton (H) 4-1
That clearly means this is our first away match in the Cup this season and our away record of late has been simply dire!
In fact, apart from the victory at SHL, we have to go right back to January to find our last away win and that was against Aston Villa when players like Ozil, Wilshere and Gnabry were fit and playing. The young German should be fit for Wigan but the others remain on the sidelines.
This domestic cup was once great for us and under Wenger, we have won it three times, two as part of a double in 1997/98 and then again in 2001/02. The last of course was back in 2005 when a Manchester Utd side battered us for the entire game yet somehow we held on and nicked it on penalties.
But it didn’t matter did it, not once Patrick Vieria fired home our last spot kick and the players went mad. We had our hands on this famous trophy and no-one could take it away.
Over the latter years it would be fair to say that the focus by Arsene Wenger hasn’t always been on the domestic cups. The league cup was always seen as a chance to let the younger and less experienced players have their moment and once the play-offs have kicked off in the Champions League, the FA Cup has been pushed to one side.
But not this season, maybe drawing Bayern Munich out of the pot made Arsene Wenger take this competition a little more seriously and it’s paid off so far and considering who we have been drawn against so far, we have done well to get to this stage, especially with such a small squad and with the injuries suffered to key players.
But let’s not forget, just because we are going to Wembley, this Saturday’s fixture is only the semi-final.
There is a long way to go yet and Arsene Wenger has a lot of work to do to get us to the final.
I hope from somewhere deep down inside him, he can find the right words for the players, the right approach for the day and of course, the right result to see us revisit the grand stadium in May….
Kieran Gibbs, Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all doubts for Saturday according to Arsene Wenger in this mornings press conference and Fabianski will remain in goal as he has done throughout this competition and rightly so. Aaron Ramsey is fit, healthy and ready to start…
Finally, last weekend and before the Everton fixture, Arsene Wenger said that Abou Diaby was ‘back on the pitches’ which can only mean he’s back training. The player himself has said he hopes to return before the end of the season and this one is soon to come to an end.
Could he make a shock appearance on Saturday? I wonder……