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This weekend Arsenal become the most successful FA Cup team in history and Mr Wenger the most successful FA Cup manager

By Tony Attwood

It is not something that you are likely to read much about in the papers, and not something that social media want to tell us but it is true: Arsenal are this weekend becoming the most successful team in FA Cup history, and Arsene Wenger the most successful FA Cup manager of all time.

Up to this season, Man United and Arsenal were neck and neck in terms of number of times they have won the FA Cup, in terms of the number of times they have been defeated finalists, and in terms of number of times they have made the semi-finals.  This season, with this semi-final appearance, Arsenal move one step ahead.

In terms of FA Cup success, the only person to challenge Mr Wenger was George Ramsay (1 March 1855 7 October 1935).   He was club secretary and then manager of Aston Villa and he won the FA Cup six times with them.  It was a record that stood for 95 years and is one of those that was spoken of as being “a record that would never be broken” until it was equalled by Arsène Wenger in 2015 with the final win over Aston Villa.

Now with this semi-final appearance Mr Wenger has overtaken George Ramsay as well.  There is more along these lines in the most recent article from the Arsenal History Society in its latest article.

This is Mr Wenger’s 11th semi-final.  His first was in 1998 at Villa Park against Wolverhampton Wanderers, when one of his early finds, Christopher Wreh, scored the only goal of the game.

Looking back he said, “It’s a different competition and every competition brings a psychological atmosphere.   We have many times seen teams not doing well in the championship and, when it is a different competition, suddenly they are doing very well. They don’t carry the negative vibes of bad experiences into the competition. When you walk out, half of the stadium is red and half is blue, so you realise it is something different.”

He has also been talking about the first of the two recent FA Cup wins:

“It was special pressure in 2014; this time it is a special opportunity.  It was difficult for us in 2014. We were super-favourites. We also had not won a trophy for a long time and people questioned us about that. We had the opportunity in the semi-final to go to the final and win the Cup. Overall, the pressure was big. This time, it is really a 50-50 game. If you ask the neutrals, maybe they will say City are favourites, even.

“When you have negative results like we had, it can divide or unite.  At some stage you have to show you can fight together. People will say it’s normal you win at Middlesbrough but, when you go through a bad period, it’s difficult in your head to win everywhere. The fact that we fought and won had a positive impact.”

As for today he added,  “The new Wembley is more like the new stadiums you meet everywhere but it is still massive. What is great is that you see your fans coming in and it is an experience that they and their children never forget. You want them to be pleased when they go home.”

Possibly the team with the most nerves this weekend will not be Arsenal, but rather Tottenham – and if that is the case, it is only their fault.  When Tottenham were debating the issue of the Wembley move Arsene Wenger  spoke openly of his experience of Arsenal playing there:

“It was a nightmare. In hindsight, it was the wrong decision,” Wenger said in January 2016. “We decided to go to Wembley but we didn’t feel at home. The pitch was bigger, the ground was different and for the English players it was something completely unusual.   We were used to a tight pitch. It was a disadvantage for sure.”

Now I have often written about the way that ground changes affect clubs.  (See for example “It’s the stadium stupid”).  We’ve seen it with Arsenal both at Wembley and the move to the Ems, but it has also affected virtually every club that has tried it.

And as predicted Tottenham ran into the very same problems that Arsenal experienced when they played their Champions League games at home between 1998 and 2000.   Tottenham left the Champions League, went to the Europa and quickly left that too.

In fact Tottenham have only won twice in nine games at Wembley and indeed had a run of six defeats in a row.

One factor everyone mentions is the size of the Wembley pitch. It measures 105 by 69 metres, (7,245 square metres). That is the same size as the second biggest pitch in the Premier League.  The White Hart Lane pitch is the second smallest, at 6,700 square metres – and such a change will affect a pressing game taken high up the pitch.  By comparison, Arsenal’s pitch is 7140 sq metres (105m x 68m) – just so one metre narrower.

Chelsea will have no such problems today, but if they were to take a three year contract at Wembley while their ground is being rebuilt, that could have quite an impact – an impact that might be carried forward when they returned to Stamford Bridge.

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10 comments to This weekend Arsenal become the most successful FA Cup team in history and Mr Wenger the most successful FA Cup manager

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Congrats , AW . May you go on to break quite a few more records with the Arsenal .
    Am sure that is the fervent hope in most people’s hearts !

  • Leon

    So Spurs are likely to suffer the “curse of Wembley.” That would be a shame as I would love a final against them.
    The sort of match that could regenerate the FA Cup and at the same time be so good for North London.

  • Jammy J

    It must be so strange for Spurs, having all of the decisions going against them for once.

  • Jammy J

    Think I may have just seen why our defenders sometimes don’t seem to cope so well with long-balls up to the opposing striker. I think it’s because they don’t give the striker a sly little nudge in the back as they go to jump, putting them off-balance. Judging by the way Spurs always play, it’s quite apparent that they (as well as most other teams) are well-versed in such underhanded tactics.

  • Jammy J

    Danny Murphy sounds genuinely deflated after that Chelsea goal. Brilliant haha.

  • jake

    yes the penalty was amusing to watch. i laughed and found myself rooting for extra time or Chelsea

  • jake

    especially the spurs players reaction to the penalty.

  • Polo

    According to some the FA Cup is not a trophy especially when Arsenal win it hence no credit given to Arsenal and AW for their record breaking achievements.

    Anyway, congratulations to Arsenal and AW for such a great achievement.

  • para

    I did actually want to face Spuds in the final. Damm! 🙂
    Still, we have to get through this one. Make no doubt, City will be going for this one, trust me.
    //
    This is another thing that needs to change.

    Why don’t they make the pitches the same size? After all imagine tennis being played like this with home and away and different size pitches, or any other game.

    It is so obviously designed to create “false” equality. Today it is an easy matter to settle on a size of pitch that everyone can adhere to, at least in the top leagues and CL.

    It would be so easy to do. Some will just have to chop off a little or add a little to make the requirements.

  • Jared

    It does seem strange that pitches are not all of equal size. I kind of like it myself, it brings some character for the different grounds to be of different shapes and sizes. It reminds me of playing youth American Football. I remember a field (as we Americans call them) in Santa Cruz, California being 90 yards long instead of the usual 100 yards. We all knew there were only 9 yards for every 10 marked, but it was a neat stadium and cool atmosphere there, very close to the beach. And the home team was terrible and we always won there, that helps.