I’d genuinely forgotten what it feels like to lose to Spurs. Since I’ve been going to matches it’s happened three times. I was eleven years old when they last tasted victory against us. Nearly half my life ago. It’s not a nice feeling. Still, as we look forward to an exciting challenge for the Premier League and a Champions League tie against last years winners AC Milan, we’ll forget about last night soon enough, while the Spurs fans will be telling their grandchildren some day about the famous time they beat Arsenal’s reserve team in a competition that their opposition cared so little about, they managed to just about two thirds fill their stadium. They’ve had their one victory against us this decade, here’s to the next nine years of laughter at their expense. Now, let’s win the treble and stuff it up ‘em, eh? Having said all that, it was a truly pitiful, gutless performance that I never want to see repeated as long as I live. It wasn’t helped by the fact that it was clearly Tottenham’s night. I think even the Arsenal players expected to lose, such was the crushing inevitability of the stars and planets aligning to see Spurs safely to Wembley for their one shot at silverware this century.
Now, onto a cup we actually do want to win, the FA Cup. We hit the Keegan revival as it kicks into gear, and we need to win this game to avoid the media getting behind the toon hero before a league game we can’t afford to lose. They drew their first game under Kev 0-0 at home to Bolton, but they have a few players returning from injury/suspension for this one and will be strengthened. Should be an interesting tie, if Newcastle go for it as we stereotypically expect a Keegan side to do, then it’ll be an open game that we should be able to do well in. The Arsenal fans will certainly be wanting a backlash after Tuesday’s debacle, and I’d like to think we’ll get one. The league game on Tuesday is more important than this one, so a player or two might be rotated, but Wenger will surely want to do well in the FA Cup this year, as it’s always been a genuine chance of a trophy for us.
This is the third time we’ve faced Newcastle in the FA Cup in recent history. We won the two prior ties, the final in 1998 and a quarter final in 2002 that we won after a replay. It seems victory over Newcastle in the FA Cup is an omen for a league and cup double. We also played them earlier this season in cup competition, in the Carling Cup, winning 2-0 with the reserves. In all competitions under Wenger it’s fourteen wins, nine draws and four losses.
Unless we’ve picked up any new injuries, it’ll be the same side that started against Fulham I’d expect, in both of these games. Van Persie, Djourou and Denilson are the injured players. We’ll go full strength. Unless Wenger plays a couple of players like Bendtner and Hoyte in this one, before going for full strength in the league. After losing 5-1 we need to win, and win emphatically, so no need for rotation. Apart from our FA Cup goalie Lehmann starting.
Subs: Fabianski, Hoyte, Diaby, Walcott, Bendtner.
They have Beye, Martins, Faye and Geremi away in Africa. Viduka and Ramage are out through injury. Barton is unlikely to be fit. Emre is suspended after his straight red against Stoke, and misses both of these matches, but Smith and Butt return from suspension and will probably feature.