By Bulldog Drummond
Arsenal have won the FA Cup more than any other team. They have also appeared in the final of the competition more than any other team except Manchester United, who have 20 final appearances – exactly the same as do Arsenal. Arsenal also have had the manager – Mr Wenger – who won the final more than any other manager in the entire and total history of the FA Cup. He won it seven times.
As for this weekend’s rivals, Leeds United, they have won the FA Cup once, which is 12 times fewer than Arsenal. They have been in the final four times, which is 16 times fewer than Arsenal.
|Club||Wins||First final won||Last final won||Runners-up||Last final lost||Total final
Now, if you had perhaps not been taking much notice of how the media treats Arsenal you might expect them to be up and running with some anticipation about Arsenal extending their remarkable record. Or maybe wondering if Chelsea or Tottenham could win the FA Cup five years running in order to equal Arsenal’s amazing achievement.
But what we do find as Arsenal take on Leeds?
The opening paragraph – and let me stress this really is the opening paragraph – of the Guardian’s analysis (I use the word “analysis” in its broadest sense) of the Arsenal v Leeds game says
A Mick Jones dash to the byline, his looped cross into the box and Allan “Sniffer” Clarke’s diving header taking its time to hit the back of the net and win the match: to those who grew up when the FA Cup remained sacrosanct the centenary final of 1972 will forever tie the names of Leeds United and Arsenal together.
In short they celebrate not the 13 times Arsenal have won the cup – indeed there is no mention in the entire article that Arsenal are the team that has won the cup more than any other – but rather the single occasion on which Leeds won the cup.
So who wrote this stuff? Well it turns out that his last venture into anything north Londonish was a piece with the headline “The latest embarrassment for an ailing north London institution?” You are probably starting to get the picture here.
Now of course I’ve got no problem with Leeds celebrating their one and only win of the FA Cup, but when one of the clubs in a match has won the cup once and the other 13 times it seems a little odd to focus on the one. Of course if Leeds beat Arsenal this time around, that would be an occasion to look back in their history and remember the one time this has happened before, but to make this the big tale, and ignore that record holders…
It is a bit like having a 200 metre race in which there is the world champion with a record number of wins, but for the commentator to focus instead on the 100-1 outsider who once won the race many years before… There is a fact in there somewhere but it is hardly the key one most people know.
Of course such commentators don’t do that. But in football it is different. Or rather with Arsenal it is different. The successes of Arsenal are not to be commemorated. Instead it is Leeds’ one victory that is of note. And I don’t mind celebrating Leeds’ one victory in the FA Cup. But maybe alongside that we might mention that Arsenal won it in 2014, 2015 and 2017.
“Get over it,” is the normal response when I raise issues like this, but I keep raising them, because they do mean something. They are the media’s way of ceaselessly putting Arsenal down. Celebrations of Arsenal being the most successful club in the FA Cup? Forget it. Let’s celebrate Leeds one and only win.
The point is that that this ceaseless denigration of all Arsenal’s achievements does have an impact – in fact it has multiple impacts. It reduces other commentators’ vision of the club, it makes players less likely to sign for Arsenal, it reduces supporters’ faith in the club, it lowers the club’s profile.
As for why the media does this, the answer is because that is what the media does. It has become a habit. There are always far more negative stories about Arsenal than there are positive stories, and the FA cup is a big positive story for Arsenal so it needs to be cut out of the narrative.
If you would like to know more about how the media always put Arsenal down, you might like to have a look at our Knocking Arsenal page.
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- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal
- How European football has taken up the fight against clubs breaking FFP