By Billy “the Dog” McGraw.
Mr Wenger has been doing his normal chat to the media which has as always been grossly misinterpreted. He said that if we had lost in the final to Hull in the season before last he might have considered leaving – which by my book is two steps away from leaving.
And what do the media make of it? If we’d lost he’d have been off.
But anyway, we won, and now we are working to try for the three in a row – which of course brings forth memories of Ipswich – Man U – WHU in the days of Neill and Howe. Except in terms of wins we are already one better off than that run.
On the team front we could have Ooooooooooooospina in goal, Elneny playing in the Coquelin role (with Francis being given a lecture in Liverpuddle – Kalm Down Kalm Down Kalm Down, although why Francis should be talked to in Liverpuddle may not become completely clear at this point. Alternatively Francis might play).
Plus Kos is back so that gives us the heart of defence which is always news of the best.
Hull now play in the Championship, and here they are in that league…
|Brighton and Hove Albion||31||15||12||4||40||30||10||57|
Fearsome stuff, being top and all that, as you will agree. But what of their most recent matches?
Their last three results were…
|Championship||Hull 0 Brighton and Hove Albion 0||Tue 16 Feb|
|Championship||Blackburn Rovers 0 Hull City2||Sat 13 Feb|
|Championship||Burnley 1 Hull 0||Sat 6 Feb|
Thus top, but not firing on all cylinders. On the other hand Hull have won four of their last five away games in all competitions, including an away victory over Bury in the last round.
However promotion to the Premier League with the new broadcasting bill will be worth £180m plus money in the next few seasons even if they go down. Winning the FA Cup gets the winner gets £2m. I suspect there might be a bit of focussing on the former, and a spot of the rotationals.
Indeed Steve Bruce, who still comes across as a fairly decent guy in a job not designed for decent guys says… “Nick Powell will have a big part to play in the coming weeks. I’ve told him that. He’s versatile and can play as a striker or as a midfielder and I’m sure he can give us that bit of impetus. He’ll definitely play on Saturday, as will all of the ones who haven’t been playing recently.” So a bit of a shuffle then.
“Making changes is the only option I’ve got. After Arsenal, we play again on Tuesday and then Friday so I have to make sure we’re fresh enough to compete in those games as well.”
Arsenal will certainly be doing some rotation so that people lurking around the edge of the squad get a game and others are rested before we play the Child Abductors.
On the injury front we have …
|3||West Ham United||9|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||3|
Being in the lower part of the table is obviously against all the rules laid down by journalists through the years, who have said that we get the most injuries and it is ALL WENGER’s FAULT.
Jack Wilshere remains at least 3-4 weeks away from a first-team return. Gabriel is out for this month only, Santi Caz is out to the end of March, and I fear Rosicky is now out for good.
So what sort of patched together walking wounded team does that leave us with (and I say patched together, because that injury table must be wrong).
Mr Wenger said, “We will play a strong side. A normal side.” I am not sure. A slightly abnormal side could be…
Chambers, Mert, Kos, Gibbs
Campbell Iwobi Theo
Which would leave, sunbathing themselves on the beach seven of…
Cech, Bellerín, Monreal, Coquelin/Flamini, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Özil, Alexis, Giroud.
On the other hand Alexis Sanchez has scored five goals in six starts in the FA Cup. His first goal in the competition was scored against Hull City 13 months ago.
Trouble is that is nine lurking on the beach – and this is the real trouble with Wenger – we’ve just got too many players AND NOT ENOUGH OF THEM IS INJURED. I think he give might give Özil a break and maybe Alexis, ready for Tuesday. I’ll have a word with the lads to see about adding to our injury list.
As for Hull, I can’t see Akpom or Hayden being allowed to play against us, irrespective of what the terms of the loan deal says. Akpom has played 26 and scored three in the league. Hayden has played 14 and scored 1.
Interesting comparison on the discipline front, because we all know Arsenal are dirty bastards. Arsenal have 28 yellows to Hull’s 45. Be ready for some rough and tumble. And read the ref preview so you know what to expect.
The last time we were beaten in the Cup was by Blackburn who were then also in the Championship – so we need to avoid taking it too easily. But that was the only time ever Arsenal under Mr W has lost to a lower league team in the FA Cup. Two more wins equals our all time best record which occurred between 2002 and 2005. We won the cup in 2002 and 2003 but lost in the semi-final in 2004, so getting to the final would beat that record and indeed the all-time record of any club in the FA cup for consecutive wins through rounds. We were there again in 2005.
The first game between the two sides was on 11 Jan 1908 when Woolwich Arsenal drew 0-0 in the FA Cup with Hull, who won the replay 4-1 some five days later. The anniversary of the game is still a national holiday in Hull. In fact we didn’t beat them until January 1914 when we won 2-1 at their place in a Division 2 match. Our best win was 5-1 in the league cup in 1977 . In the last ten meetings we have won nine and drawn one.
This is Mr Wenger’s 100th FA Cup match. He has won 71 of the games, drawn 13 and lost 13. He has won the FA Cup six times – equalling the record set in the 19th/20th century when things were a little different. He has also lost three times in the semi-final and once in the final. He has lost four times in round five. A win in the cup this year would make Arsenal the first team since 1886 to win the Cup three times running, and Mr Wenger the most successful FA Cup manager in the history of the galaxy. Expect a gravitational wave to be named after him. Arsenal are, of course already the most successful club in the history of the Cup.
Here’s an oddity. Arsenal won the FA Cup for the first time in 1930. Also in 1930 Hull City reached the semi-final for the first time. The result was a 2-2 draw, followed by a 1-0 win to Arsenal, who then beat Huddersfield in the final. Our manager was, of course, Herbert Chapman.
Hull didn’t get to the semi-final again until 2014 when they beat Sheffield Utd of the 3rd tier 5-3, and then met Arsenal in the final. Thus Hull have played in two semi-finals, winning one, losing one and each time Arsenal have also been in the semis.
Arsenal have played in 28 semi-finals, winning 19 – more appearances and more wins than any other club.
Arsenal in the cup on this day in history
- 20 February 1904: Arsenal lost 0-2 in 2nd round of FA Cup to Man City in front of 30,000 spectators. However the main focus continued to be that of getting one of the two promotion spots. Arsenal were third, one point behind Burnley but with three games now in hand.
- 20 February 1932: Arsenal 2 Blackpool 0 making a perfect February of five league and cup wins. Jack and Parkin scored with 39,045 at Highbury.
- 20 February 1937: Burnley 1 Arsenal 7 (FA Cup, 5th round). Ted Drake got four. Burnley were a mid-table second division side at the time
- 20 February 2011: Leyton Orient 1 Arsenal 1. FA Cup 5th round in front of 9,136. Rosicky scored and Arsenal won the replay.
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