Arsenal v Manchester City – FA Cup Semi Final – July 18th, 2020
There are so many stories to tell about our FA Cup semi finals.
Here’s one that sticks in my mind.
Stoke City’s old style of play upset many opponents, none more so than Arsenal, the Premier League’s aesthetes, who visit on Sunday.
In recent times, this fixture has become defined by leg-breaks, headlocks and a keen mutual dislike. It is not a new rivalry, however, but an old one resurrected.
“The bad blood goes a long way back,” explains long-time Stoke supporter Ian Webb – to the 1971 FA Cup semi-final, to be precise, when a controversial late penalty earned eventual Cup-winners Arsenal a replay. A year later, history repeated itself at the same stage of the competition, in more preposterous circumstances.
“We were both playing in away strips, Arsenal in yellow and blue, Stoke in an all-white kit. The score was level when late on our defence was opened up and one of their players – it might even have been Charlie George – was yards offside as the ball was knocked through.”
Linesman Bob Matthewson kept his flag down, however, and allowed a cross from the byline to find striker John Radford, who lunged to score past a stranded Gordon Banks. The goal stood. Stoke’s players and support were incensed.
According to Banks’s autobiography, team-mate Jackie Marsh shot a tirade at the official that “would have made a navvy blush”. Arsenal’s physio Fred Street, who had joined the club from Stoke, was discouraged from consoling his former colleagues after the game because they were “a bit violent at the moment”.
Matthewson’s decision seemed indefensible until, as Webb recalls, an explanation emerged. “He had mistaken an ice-cream seller in white overalls for our last defender.”
Actually, according to most accounts it was a programme seller; others suggest he was peddling nuts. The minor details were forgotten but the ill feeling remained.
Another is described is an article from the Liverpool Echo.
To paraphrase Monty Python’s famous Yorkshire men sketch ever so slightly . . . “Three games against the Arsenal in six days? That were nothing! We played them five times in 19 days, with the same team. And there were only one goal between us at the end.”
Except it’s not a parody.
Liverpool and Arsenal really did meet five times in less than three weeks.
And after an intense marathon of matches between April 12 and May 1 1980, just a solitary goal separated the Gunners from Bob Paisley’s all conquering side.
12.04.1980: 0 – 0 Arsenal (Hillsborough) FA Cup semi-final
16.04.1980: 1 – 1 Arsenal (Villa Park) FA Cup semi-final replay
19.04.1980: 1 – 1 Arsenal (Anfield) 1st Division
28.04.1980: 1 – 1 Arsenal (Villa Park) FA Cup semi-final 2nd replay
01.05.1980: 0 – 1 Arsenal (Highfield Road) FA Cup semi-final 3rd replay
After our victory against Liverpool our team should have its tail between its legs and realize that no team is unbeatable. We went into the Liverpool game as seeming no hopes – they were by far the better team and were 43 points ahead of us in the league, yet we squeaked out a 2-1 victory after being 1-0 down.
Now we head into another game where we are the undisputable underdogs – but this is the FA Cup and you can never count out the underdog.
This is our record against City in the last 12 games we’ve played.
Here is a look at our illustrious history in FA Cup Semi Finals.
|P||Arsenal FA Cup Semi Finals||F||A||W||L|
|1||1906||W. Arsenal||Newcastle United||0||2||1|
|2||1907||W. Arsenal||The Wednesday||1||3||1|
We have met Manchester City twice in FA Cup semi finals and we have been victorious on both occasions, we won 1-0 in 1932 and 2-1 in 2017. We always seem to summon up something special having won 20 out of our 29 semi finals.
Here is a reminder of our victory against them in 2017.
Enjoy the game – and may the gods of the FA Cup look down favourably upon us.
TA’s team to beat the Blue Mancs