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To Hull and Back

To HULL and back

By Proud Kev

So tonight we are on the trail of our third FA Cup on the spin. A remarkable achievement, despite what those who seem to object to Arsenal winning games make out.

The FA CUP win against Hull City in 2013/2014 broke the long spell without a trophy, a period counted down daily by the media and those who wanted Wenger’s scalp. The countdown clock conveniently made no allowance for the period of austerity when the club started on its journey to build long term competitiveness.  This was the all too familiar countdown clock with a selective memory, programmed to ignore the inconvenient truths. Unable to display the 23 years Liverpool have been waiting for a Premier League Trophy and the even longer 55 years the small club in North London have been waiting patiently.

The countdown clock Arsenal fans were subjected to every time another game ticked by created untold pressure on everyone at the club and it took real bottle to progress through each rounds, against strong opposition. Spurs, Everton and Liverpool were disposed of without the need for replays and a two goal deficit in the final showed the character the players had. Breaking the spell seemed to upset some people, so we were reminded Portsmouth won the FA Cup and we had beaten Liverpool, Spurs and Everton at home.

The following season we proved it was no fluke. Rounding off a win at Old Trafford, despite predictions we would finally lose, we lifted the second major trophy in two years.

Since that FA Cup Final win against Hull the previous season, Arsenal have been consistent. Hull was the start of our return to trophy ways and that win may have lifted a burden from the club.

Looking at the combined league table, after we lifted the FA Cup in 2013/14 to the current league table, it shows an impressive level of consistency. Consistency that may owe much to the lifting of the burden, a burden the media and their friends had continued to remind us of at every given opportunity:



Premier League Table 2014/2016 combined (Current)


Team Pld W D L Pts Win% Loss%
Man City 66 39 12 15 129 59 22
Arsenal 67 37 16 14 127 55 21
Chelsea 67 34 16 14 127 55 21
Tiny Totts 67 34 17 16 119 51 24
Man Utd 67 33 18 16 117 49 24
Liverpool 66 30 16 20 106 45 30
Leicester City 67 28 17 22 101 42 33

So since we broke the back of the trophy-less period, we have proven to be consistent performers.  We are a far better team than the pundits and the media would have you believe.

Despite the FA Cup win at the end of last season that made it two in a row, there are those who continue to heap unfair criticism on the club and the manager. A number of long term injuries to key players conveniently ignored, along with some recent misfortunes that have cost us points. Has any team ever played under such a stream of constant pressure?

The media have had their knives out for over ten years. We have seen pundits and ex-players join the dissenting voices and even a brave, gutsy performance against Spurs this weekend was treated by some as a five nil defeat. It’s all part of the agenda.

However, after ex Spurs Manager David Pleat turned on the ex-players and pundits criticising Wenger on BBC 5 Live at the Weekend, Steve Bruce decided he too would defend our Manager from the media witch hunt.

Steve Bruce

Prior to the game tonight, Hull City Manager Steve Bruce was asked about Arsene Wengers position by the smug, trouble makers in the media. Now Steve Bruce is a man that has won most honours in the game. He has gained considerable respect along the way and is one of the few ex-players that decided to put his money where his mouth was. His opinions are always well founded and articulate. When asked about Arsene Wengers position he jumped to Arsene’s defence. He told the hacks:

“How anybody can criticise him is beyond me with what he’s achieved and what he’s done.  From inside the game you’re not going to hear people criticising him because when you’re in management as long as he’s been and what he’s achieved, who is anyone to criticise him?”

Bruce went on:  “I find it appalling that they can. He’s helped build a fantastic club, he’s helped finance it by selling players, he’s never been able to really compete at the top level like others at a top club have but he’s kept them in the top four for 17 or 18 years. It’s a blame culture now. Managers get the sack after 12 weeks.”

This comment was largely ignored because it was inconvenient, so the hacks reminded Bruce that Arsenal had not won the Premier League since 2004.

Bruce wasn’t having none of it. He reiterated the un-thinkable. He claimed the landscape had altered since the takeovers at Chelsea and Manchester City by two billionaire benefactors and pointed out that for some period Arsenal was a selling club.

How could he say this, didn’t he know this kind of comment was off limits?

Bruce said: “It’s very difficult to win a title. Manchester United went 20 odd years before they won 10 of them. With the emergence of Chelsea and Manchester City over the last decade then it is very, very difficult – it doesn’t just come as easy as it used to”.

He went on: “So for me he (Wenger) would only get one thing and that is respect. He has to be great to manage a club like Arsenal for 20-odd years. It’s a blame culture now. Managers get the sack after 12 weeks. So somebody who has managed Arsenal for 20-odd years, you have to give them the greatest respect because he keeps responding. I don’t know why we’re questioning him. He has been one of the great managers that this country has ever seen.”

Impressive support from Steve Bruce, who deserves huge respect for the honourable way he conducts himself. A man who’s team earned a deserved point at the Emirates and who will give us a very tough game tonight.

What winning tonight could mean

Win tonight and we go on to meet Watford in the next round and the dream of a third FA Cup in succession remains alive. Don’t listen to those who try to discredit this achievement, they have an agenda. Make no mistake winning two FA Cups on the spin is a remarkable achievement. Just getting close to winning three would be special but to actually achieve it would be one for the record books.

Now is the time to be proud of this football club and to remind the hacks and our rivals that Arsenal Football Club is not going away. We know they don’t like us but what do they know?  Steve Bruce’s veiled attack on those who don’t work inside the game should be lost on nobody.

Beating Hull will be treated with a pinch of salt by those who have an agenda to produce content for but it could be a big result with a very big meaning. A result that allows us to rebuild our confidence after recent results and start a run of wins that we all know this team is capable of doing.

Arsenal have been to Hull and back.

This could be the start of our return to form and the moment we look back to as the turning point of our season.

Dare we think the unthinkable? Another record for our club under Wenger and a possible League and Cup double could be on the cards.

The FA Cup anniversaries today (index to 4600 anniversaries across the years is here)

  • 8 March 1952: Luton 2 Arsenal 3.  FA Cup round 6.  Arsenal had scored 15 goals in four matches thus far on the road to Wembley.  Cox 2, and Milton got the goals.
  • 8 March 1972: Ajax 2 Arsenal 1.  European Cup 3rd round 1st leg.  It came after two battles with Derby in the cup (both drawn) and a defeat in the league to Manchester City.
  • 8 March 1975: Arsenal 0 West Ham 2.  FA Cup 6th round.  This was the fourth consecutive defeat in league and cup.
  • 8 March 1980: Watford 1 Arsenal 2  FA Cup 6th round, on the way to the last cup final for 19 years.  Stapleton got both goals.
  • 8 March 1998: Arsenal 1 WHU 1.  FA Cup 6th in the Second Double Season.  Bergkamp scored with a penalty.    The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.
  • 8 March 2003: Arsenal 2 Chelsea 2. FA Cup 6th round.  Jeffers and Henry scored.
  • 8 March 2006: Daily Mirror ran the headline, “Nil nil to the Arsenal” after the draw with Real Madrid in the Champions League.
  • 8 March 2011: Barcelona 3 Arsenal 1.  Champions League round of 16.
  • 8 March 2014: Arsenal 4 Everton 1. FA Cup quarter finals – en route to Wembley.  Ozil, Flamini, Giroud and Arteta scored

13 comments to To Hull and Back

  • serge

    I doubt if Crystal Palace fans would agree with your opinion of Steve Bruce, but I’ve got a lot of time for him too and that was a very gracious statement to make about Arsene.
    I also have plenty of time for the FA Cup, and I feel that it’s the younger supporters ( of all clubs ) who denigrate it. I’m from a period when there were just two trophies that counted and the cup was just as prestigious as the the league. This was pre European & Cup Winners Cups, pre world football really. It slowly became less important from the mid eighties I’d say and the final stab wound was that by Ferguson when he withdrew United from the competition to play in the inaugural FIFA World Club Cup in Brazil 2000 in which I believe they lost every game.
    If we win the cup this year do we get to keep it? Anyone know?

  • Ralph77

    I finally looked up video of the foul on Benteke leading to the pen. Wow.

  • Ralph77

    Well, meant that comment to be on for the previous post on video refereeing (oops), but still, wow.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Tonight’s referee is Kevin Friend. He is a notable ‘home referee’ but is far from the worst we could have. When he was first appointed to the Elite Group of referees he was consistently the best we got. Unfortunately he then got a ‘talking to’ and became one of the worst. His last few games have been much more average. I’m hoping that he won’t have been told to referee to an agenda and that we can talk about a game of football tonight, not a performance by the officials.

    Sorry but simply haven’t had time to do a proper ref preview.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    It might not be Kevin Friend, but I haven’t found a listing for his replacement.

  • proudkev


    It will be another hostile atmosphere tonight, so you need the referee to be strong. Tbh I don’t mind Kevin Friend and I would rather have a referee from leicester in an FA Cup game than a League one!

    We need an early goal to quiten the crowd and give us an early confidence boost.

    I am not going to enjoy the Biased BT coverage, it really is poor. Full of Spurs and Mancs & Lancs, it is just dismal. No doubt miserable “I have an axe to grind” Ian Wright will be sharing his vast intellect, that bloke has never forgiven Wenger for replacing him with Kid Anelka or snubbing his son.

    As I said above, this result is likely to have an impact on the rest of the season so we need to go out there and put in a good performance.

    Waitng on the team news. Expect to see Elneny and Iwobi given starts.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I do hope that we get to play in the FA Cup this weekend and save West Brom for another day ! But that may mean that we be overtaken in the league . Or not !

  • ob1977

    Great interview with Bruce, am sure he remembers well the offer and subsequent replay of a cup tie when he was managing Sheffield Utd…
    As a side point/question I would love to know how a match that was legally resolved under the rules of the competition was allowed to be played again… But I digress…

    Bruce says it all when talking about “people in the game” he is basically saying you lot in the media haven’t got a clue… Does this mean I have to now start liking Steve Bruce? Will know more by tonight…

  • proudkev

    Ob yes I agree.

    Arsenal get so much stick yet nobody ever mentions the fact we offered a cup replay when no other team would have done that.

  • I’m with you proudkev I think Saturday was the day that just might take us on a run to the Title. What this manager and this team has had to cope with is unbelievable, the media, ref’s inexcusable mistakes and worse of all by our own supporters. If we believe and get behind this team 100% and give it our all then we can win this. Double would be great but I want this for Wenger more than anything else in the world because if any man who has been not just a world class manager but who’s love for this football club is more than any of us supporters and who is Arsenal to his very core . What a most beautiful sight that would be to see him lifting the PL Trophy and FA Cup because no man deserver’s it’s more than him. As for Wright, Henry and co they should hang their heads in shame, they love Arsenal, don’t think so but I know a man who does and that’s all that matters to me.

  • Al

    Great analysis ProudKev. The FA cup has suddenly taken lesser importance now because Arsenal are winning it. Just like someone pointed out the other day, we used to hear how Arsenal were so poor against the bigger teams. You now don’t hear it anymore, because Arsenal have the most points from meetings between the big sides. As soon as we win something the tune/focus will soon change to something else. BTW, is it 23 yrs or 26 since Liverpool last won the title?

    Steve Bruce has always been the least hostile of the ex utd players. I don’t really recall him setting his sides up to hack our players, pulis, Allardyce or mourinho style. Yes, he parks the bus at times, but think that’s more out of necessity than malice. With regards to tonight, yes his players might kick our players but I’ll blame the pgmo more than Steve in this case. A good example is Ranieri. I don’t believe he sets his team to go and kick other players, but his Leicester team are slowly morphing into a thuggish side like Stoke simply because of the way the opposition gets treated by the refs when they play them. Players, more than us, will know exactly what sort of ref will let them get away with what. They’ll also know the media will not care if you kicked Ozil than say Rooney. One just needed to watch Leicester v Watford to see how refs turn decent players into monsters. Moss was giving Leicester for the most ridiculous of free kicks. We might want to blame the players but who on earth would expect a limited side like Leicester, who know they’ll probably never get a better chance than that in another 100 years, to turn such gifts down?

    Of the refs I’d rather see at the moment are Marriner and Friend. Not that they’re perfect, but they have not reduced themselves to the levels we have to come to expect from the others. I just hope none of our players make a silly tackle/foul that’ll have the media baying for the ref’s blood, coz that’s how our recent misfortunes with certain refs have come about. When they’re reminded of their allegiances and how to deal with us in our next encounter they are involved with.

  • Al

    The match is already on!? And it’s East the ref, not Friend… Thought this was an 8pm kick off…

  • Al

    And this sob is dishing yellows to our players like confetti….