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    Thanks for the trophy, Arsenal

    Today, we will play Luton who we once did a big favour for, we gave them their only major trophy in 1988, the League Cup. And that was with the bulk of the team that would go on to win the league in the most dramatic fashion ever at Anfield the following year. We do not want a repeat of that 3-2 scoreline tonight, we need a win to keep the pressure on the top teams. Of course, it also means Luton will stay in deep trouble near the bottom.


    You're welcome, Luton

    But for a team who we first played in 1897, we have only played them 48 times, mostly because they were down the divisions and we weren’t. We have 27 won, 11 draws and 10 losses so they have given us good games despite their different status. We beat them 6-2 in 1898 for our best ever win and we would love that tonight. They beat us 4-0 in 1957 and then in the next match in 1958 they beat us 6-3 and those 2 wins in a row are far better than we have managed against them. In fact virtually all games have been tight with one goal separating the sides. They are no mugs and they seem to like playing well against us. And one nil to the Arsenal has never rang out against them as the last time we beat them by that score was 1970, long before the chant started.

    Oh, Nigel, what have you done?

    I mentioned above their first and only major trophy and it has to go down as one of the best League Cup finals ever.  And why? Because Luton didn’t understand that Arsenal are the elite side and cheekily whacked in a goal by Brian Stein after 13 minutes. That was very foolish as that will wake up Arsenal who will go on to loot Luton of goals and win easily. Eh, no. It took until the 71st minute for us to get a goal from Martin Hayes who had come on as a sub for the wonderful Perry Groves. And then Smudger Alan Smith hit a goal from a tight angle and it was all over. It was even more over soon after when Arsenal got a penalty as Rocastle was tipped over in the box. And then Michael Thomas, our penalty taker, hit the ball into the back of the net and it was 3-1 with minutes left. Eh, no, again, because Nigel Winterburn, not known as a goalscorer, took the penalty for some reason and the magnificently named Andy Dibble made a fine save.


    Michael Thomas was our penalty taker, Nigel

    Still we were 2-1 up with minutes to go and we were the big shots, aristocrats of the English game. Except on 82 minutes, Danny Wilson scored from a bit of a scramble and we had to go again. On 90 minutes, substitute Irishman Ashley Grimes went  on a run down the wing, got to the byline and hit a sublime pass for Brian Stein to knock it in past Lukic and we were done, looted by Luton. A great final that little Luton won. I guess all you older Arsenal fans remember that rollercoaster well as we did the opposite to Liverpool the next year.

    60 years unbeaten

    We do have an up and down record against them. We played them first in 1897 in Luton and won 2-0. We remained unbeaten against them until 1957. It was a regular looting and pillaging for us. Kenilworth Road, thank you very much. But in 1957, they beat us 3-1 at Highbury and went on to win nine more times over the next 33 matches to date. They also drew 9 times so they have had a good record against us considering the gap between the teams.


    Neutrals are hoping Rob Edwards can keep Luton up

    If I am reading the sentiments of football fans correctly, Luton is the one team that most neutrals are hoping stay up. They have had a fairytale return to the Premier league because they were like the homeless people you barely notice on the streets as you walk past with your head up in the air as you are Arsenal, you don’t know what it is like to drop down into the gutter four times until you are spending another 5 seasons scrambling around in non-league. The bottom was hit, money and fans almost nonexistent, and even getting into the bottom tier of league two seemed impossible. Financial irregularities meant local support was difficult to obtain as was money itself.

    They crawled out of the gutter

    But they turned themselves around with that grim determination that our own Ian Wright had when he found himself in jail at 21, and his dreams of being a pro footballer in tatters. He said, no, I will make it, and so did Luton. They got relegated from the 1st division just before it became the Premier League and this is their new pinnacle, the holy grail that never seemed likely when it all went wrong. But they are here, they are battling and maybe, just maybe the fairytale will continue.


    Will their proposed new ground ever see the Premiership?

    If Sheffield Utd go down, they will come back, they always do. Burnley I think also. But Luton? This may be their last shot at the big time. The Championship is probably the most difficult quicksand to get out of in football. Big names have gone down into it never to reemerge. Brentford have given them a path to follow, but can they also get on it? At this moment it looks unlikely.  Their ground holds a tiny 11,500. Their proposed new ground will hold 19,500, growing to 23,000. But it is scheduled for 2026. They may not be able to see the Arsenal there, then, if it all goes wrong.

    One nil to the Arsenal?

    Rob Edwards seems a decent football man, with a lot more managerial experience than Mikel Arteta, despite being younger, but he needs to get Luton to win with enough regularity to stay up. I doubt if tonight will help him but our record against them suggests a tough game and one we really need to win as all the big teams will most likely beat them.

    In our predictions Dani has gone 3-0 and I have gone for our first one nil to the Arsenal since the chant began. A win will make me happy no matter how we get it. We do not want to be looted by Luton.


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