Arsenal fans aren’t best pleased at the moment, are they? If you listened to them in the week – following their second 5-1 drubbing by Bayern Munich in as many weeks – the message was clear… ‘The club’s being destroyed’. Quite how fans of Charlton, Coventry, Blackpool, Leyton Orient or Blackburn might react to such nonsense is another matter entirely. But for many Gunners? Their FA Cup and Premier League-winning manager Arsene Wenger has ruined them. Bless them.
Saturday afternoon sees either a nice change of pace for the under-fire Arsenal boss, or a banana skin so potentially slippy that it may well see the Frenchman landing on his derrière in a big way. They host non-league upstarts Lincoln City at the Emirates in an FA Cup Quarter Final they’re expected to win. And 1/12 on with most odds setters, who can argue?
What will happen? Well, who knows? All we can do is look back at some similarly mismatched FA Cup ties and look for clues… Here are six that stick out in our memory:
Yeading Vs. Newcastle United (2005)
Now, normally? Half and half scarves are unforgivable. But on this occasion? We’ll let Yeading fans off. The minnows were a full six divisions and 123 places below their Premier League opponents at kick off. So we can excuse their fans the indulgence. The hosts held firm for a full fifty minutes before goals from Lee Bowyer and Shola Ameobi killed their dreams. The part timers started the game (held at Loftus Road) brightly, but tired in the second half. Yeading Striker Dudley (DJ) Campbell stood out as the game’s best player and made Jean-Alain Boumsong look distinctly average. Which is the best most Magpies fans will have seen the Frenchman play. Newcastle squeaked it 2-0 and the neutral was left more than a little disappointed.
Chasetown Vs. Cardiff City (2008)
Back in January 2008, future finalists Cardiff City started their route to becoming runners-up against a side you’d be forgiven for having never heard of. British Gas Business Southern League Division One Midland side Chasetown. A humping was expected and, in the end, the two goal cushion looks comfortable. But the minnows took the lead in the 17th minute via an own goal from Cardiff defender Kevin McNaughton. The dream was on. Until the stroke of half time when Peter Whittingham levelled the tie. Two goals in the second half – including one from future Arsenal man Aaron Ramsey – restored the natural order of things. 3-1 Bluebirds.
Manchester United Vs. Exeter City (2005)
Two defeats for the little guys so far, so let’s more into more positive territory. Twelve years ago, Conference side Exeter City pulled off a major coup in the Third Round of the cup by defending resolutely and earning a replay at Old Trafford. True, the replay saw Manchester United win with goals from Rooney and Ronaldo, but the players involved in the first tie will never forget Saturday 8th of January 2008. Their brave and battling 0-0 with the holders of the FA Cup was no fluke – it was an open and fair battle which, actually, could’ve gone the Grecians’ way.
Stevenage Vs. Newcastle United (2011)
Graham Westley’s men started the weekend as 13th in League Two and were expected to take a bit of a beating at the hands of Alan Pardew’s team. But where Newcastle were professional enough to beat Yeading, they were simply outclassed on the day here. In fact, it would have been 3-0 to the home side had Joey Barton not pulled one back in the 92nd minute. Stevenage became only the fourth ever top-flight team since the formation of the Premier League to lose in the FA Cup to fourth-tier opposition. And it happened in pretty darn convincing fashion.
There were a few ugly scenes after the game when a mini pitch invasion saw some confrontations between players and fans. One player, defender Scott Laird, took a punch from one of his own fans. Seems they celebrate shock wins in odd ways in Hertfordshire…
Liverpool Vs. Havant & Waterlooville (2008)
A thrilling third round replay victory against Swansea City set up a dream tie for south coast tiddlers Havant & Waterlooville (so good they named them after two different places). That 4-2 win earned them a stab at Liverpool away. The kind of tie that makes commentators and pundits go giddy. And after going ahead, the biggest ever FA Cup shock was on the cards. Liverpool soon cancelled out Richard Pacquette’s early opener, but H&W went ahead again. Twice they led. Twice they were pegged back. Eventually they were fairly roundly tonked. The game ended 5-2. Shame, really.
Leicester City Vs. Leatherhead (1975)
Up until recently, if you were to mention Leatherhead FC to a football fan, the only thing they’d remember would be that unlikely cup run of theirs from the mid-70’s. Now? Hopefully they still remember that. But they’ll more than likely want to talk about Leatherhead FC now. Why? Well, professional football buffoon and scarecrow Jimmy Bullard’s their manager. But enough of that.
Back in 1975, managed to capture the public’s imagination with their brave and expansive style. They put Brighton to the sword then players and staff joked about beating First Division Leicester City in the next round. “They’re rubbish! We’ll stuff ’em!” one told Match of the Day’s Jimmy Hill on hearing news of the draw. And, they did. For a bit, anyway. They went two goals up. But got edged out of it after a decent comeback.
How will Arsenal Vs. Lincoln City go? Fancy an upset? The Imps are 22/1 if you do. Or, more likely, will Arsenal unwind on them after their recent embarrassments? Let’s wait and see…