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Memory Lane...

Another trip to the past, after remembering Anfield 89 and the 79 Cup final in the last two days, but this one isn't on TV.
This weekend we should have played Aston Villa in what could have been a vital game for both sides. It brings back memories of another May meeting between the two clubs - the 2015 FA Cup Final.

Arsenal were the defending champions, and had to get past the team they beat in the previous seasons final (Hull) in the 3rd round. Brighton and Middlesbrough were also beaten on the way to a Quarter Final at Old Trafford. And it was a former United man, Danny Welbeck, who got the winner that night to set up a semi final against Reading. Alexis Sanchez and some dodgy 'keeping, saw us sneak through to a second consecutive final.

We were expecting to face Liverpool, who played in the second semi final the next day against an Aston Villa in a relegation fight. That seemed even more certain when Coutinho put Liverpool ahead on the half hour. However, Benteke - then a free scoring striker who would join Liverpool that summer - and Delph netted either side of half time to put Villa into the final.


In the final league game of the season, against WBA, Theo Walcott was given a rare chance to start up front. He netted a hat-trick in a performance that convinced Mr Wenger to start him ahead of Giroud in the final.
Wojciech Szczesny was our cup 'keeper, with a back 4 of Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny and Monreal in front of him. The midfield partnership of Cazorla and Coquelin had grown since the Frenchman had returned to the club in January. The big money stars Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil supported Walcott, along with the 2014 hero Aaron Ramsey.

For Villa, a lot of the build up was focused on Jack Grealish. A lot of Villa's hopes were on the 19 year old local lad, although Benteke and N'Zogbia also could have been a threat.

From kick-off Arsenal dominated, making sure they avoided a repeat of the previous season that saw us 2 down after 8 minutes. Walcott was a constant threat, Koscielny went close to repeating his goal from 2014, Shay Given denying us a few times.
With Villa looking like they could get to half time level, Monreal put a high cross in, Alexis won a header, and Walcott arriving late after playing Monreal in, smashed a volley into the back of the net. A fully deserved lead for Arsenal at half time.

Any fear the interval would change the momentum of the game was spectacularly eased within 5 minutes of the restart. Alexis Sanchez recieved the ball 35 yards out, cut inside and smashed a shot past Given, the 'keeper beaten by the pace and power of the shot.

Around the hour mark it was 3. Per Mertesacker - who had scored a vital semi-final goal at Wembley in 2014 - got his head/shoulder onto a corner, leaving Given beaten.

Arsenal had the comfort of being able to give run outs to Wilshere, Chamberlain and Giroud, and the Englishmen combined to set up the French striker to make it 4 with a good flick at the near post.

A comprehensive victory, Per Mertesacker picked up the cup and Arsenal celebrated retaining the cup.

Amazingly we scored 7 goals in those 2 cup finals, and had 7 different scorers.

It is a cup final that is pretty much forgotten about. It didn't have the comeback drama and drought breaking drama of the previous season, it didn't have the underdog versus the champions romance of the 2017 final. It was, perhaps, too easy. But it was still a great day and another bit of silverware for the club.

posted 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Good article

posted 2 weeks, 6 days ago

comment by Shinjury list (U1700)
posted 33 minutes ago
Good article
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Tbh I have run out of things to write about.

posted 2 weeks, 6 days ago

I loved that match. Though it was the most stress-free Final I can remember us being involved in.

posted 2 weeks, 6 days ago

After about half hour I did think it was going to be one of those days. Expected Villa to score with their first effort.

posted 2 weeks, 6 days ago

I was at this game.

I had just finished my degree and had flown straight to Germany to visit my girlfriend, who I now live with. Two days before I flew back, my nephew was born. I flew into Birmingham the day before the final, ready to take the train down to London the next day.

The tickets were a gift for my father from a work colleague, and coincidentally had to be hand delivered from Birmingham to London by one of his employees. Thus, the offer was made for me to be driven down, avoiding a train full of Aston Villa fans in the process.

So, having flown late into Birmingham and having stayed at an extremely dodgy hostel, I get up the next day to be greeted by an Irish bloke with a BMW. I should say at this point that this kind of thing was not what I was used to. I don't come from money and my dad's job was not particularly high-powered, so I felt ridiculous being driven down to London.

Anyway, I get into the car and the first thing this man says to me is (paraphrasing) "so the guy who was supplying the tickets committed suicide rather having gangsters come after his family so we'll have to see what we can do". At which point I was looking around for the hidden camera/wondering if it's worth getting out the car and making my own way home (down near Brighton). I did not think I was still going to the game.

Anywho, turns out the tickets were supposed to be supplied by a man who had a decade-long record of being reliable. This year, he'd promised tickets to some of Brum's less savoury characters only to be let down by his supplier who'd been offered more money. Rather than face the music, he'd offed himself. I'm guessing, at this point, he's just driving me down to London so my dad can take me home.

Nope. Boss calls. Very rich boss with lots of friends in high places calls. Turns out my father is very highly thought of and he'd be damned if he doesn't pull through for my dad. We'll just need to make a pit stop in Essex.

I get talking to the Irish chap. Unsurprisingly, given his age and background, he was a gooner himself. He seemed impressed that I knew about the likes of Brady, O'Leary and co (I was 21 at the time) and that I could talk about what happened in Ireland without being a jingoistic prat. I felt extraordinarily guilty to have all of this fuss made over me, and doubly so as he had a pub with his family waiting in it to watch the game, and here I was potentially preventing him from making it, just so I could be there. Spent the entire time trying to make him not feel too bad about it.

So. Pull up into some McMansion part of nowheresville in Essex. Several expensive cars in the driveway. Was told to wait in the car. After ten minutes a middle aged woman comes out and gives me a small speech about how she could sell her tickets on for a lot of money, but she'd much rather give them to a real fan like myself. I'm just trying to disappear in my seat from the weight of Imposter Syndrome I'm experiencing.

We drive back up the M25, which is when I realise that the two tickets are not close together at all. One was pitchside, and one was in the rafters. We finally meet up with my dad. He is waiting with a bottle of good whiskey (I didn't know whiskey well at the time, but I reckon it was in the region of a Lagavulin) for the Irish man (can't believe I've forgotten his name). A few pleasantries are exchanged (I was very proud when he told my dad that I was a credit to him) before he takes his understandable leave to storm up the M1 and back to Brum.

The game speaks for itself. I was lucky that my dad insisted on me being pitchside, and got to experience the special atmosphere. It was his first cup final and, although it was a shame we weren't together, it was a fantastic feeling knowing he was somewhere above me.

Finish the game and the revelry, before getting confirmation that the driver did indeed make it back in time.

Next day I met my nephew. It was a crazy couple of days.

posted 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Sorry for the wall of text, I just think it is a good story.

posted 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Nice to have a comfortable cup final, even better when your mum is a Villa fan

posted 2 weeks, 5 days ago

THAT Sanchez' goal

posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

I thought it was a reserve cup ?? Why write an article about it???

posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

comment by ShamelessObserver (U22372)
posted 34 minutes ago
I thought it was a reserve cup ?? Why write an article about it???
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Wow, multi-article bite.

I write about the reserves a lot. Would have thought a "neutral" would be interested in all clubs and all competitions...

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