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  • They stopped Arsenal from scoring

    1992/93 part 2

    As I said last time, this was the first time that football had ever been played. All the previous years of my life was a mirage, a dusty cloth-capped vision in which I imagined all the trips to the grounds, peering at black and white screens, and horsing down the drink as I cheered on the Arsenal. But Sky had given us the new improved version with greed at its core and we lapped it up, eventually.

    But that was the story of last week, this week I will delve into Arsenal’s first year in the glittering Sky invention. It was not good. We finished 10th with 56 points and couldn’t score goals. 40! That’s all we could manage! In 42 games. Ian Wright scored 15 of them despite the addition of John Jensen. Maybe he was missing his good buddy David Rocastle who was sold on to Leeds for reasons that I was never sure about. The backpass rule had its impact for sure. What to do when your tried and trusted method lets you down? When the football authorities decide you are boring boring Arsenal and stop the way you play?

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    John Jensen linked well with Mr Wright

    But they couldn't stop Ian Wright

    Well, what we did was play well in the cups. Wrighty did better there as well. He also got 15 in far less matches to bring him up to a respectable 30. Wrighty was never our problem.

    And so to the League Cup. First up was Millwall and we struggled both legs at 1-1 with the underrated Kevin Campbell scoring both times. It meant penalties after extra time and Lee Dixon stood up for the first. He was our penalty taker and very reliable so he should have frightened them. Maybe the fact that he had scored an own goal earlier gave them heart and meant that he didn’t! Kasey Keller produced a great save and my heart sank. I find penalty shootouts hard to watch but missing the first is even worse. But David Seaman was unstoppable almost that day. He saved the first to level things up and Ian Dawes knocked one past him for the second but that was it. We won 3-1 and it ended up one of our easiest shootouts. My heart could beat again.

    Until Derby in the next round. They seemed to be all over us with our defence kicking them all the time and Seaman producing save after save but we fashioned a replay 1-1. We beat them 2-1 at Highbury this time and we were 2-0 up very quickly. They got one back with a penalty but we had done enough.

    Did it end at Scarborough?

    1-0 to the Arsenal at Scarborough next time with the pitch a quagmire and Scarborough’s jersey is very like Arsenal’s so it was a bit confusing to watch particularly with the heavy fog. But Nigel Winterburn scored and we were through.

    Forest next with a young Roy Keane playing under Brian Clough. But he couldn’t stop Ian Wright scoring 2 magnificent goals and we won 2-0.

    Then Palace in the 2 legged semi-final.  We had a good season against Palace beating them twice in the league and twice here. 3-1 in the first leg at Palace with Ian Wright and Alan Smith (2). Then 2-0 in the second with Ian Wright again and Andy Linighan.

    On to Sheffield Wednesday in the final. They were good then with plenty of top players like Mark Bright, David Hirst and Chris Waddle. But the match is synonymous with Steve Morrow. We won 2-1 and he scored but Tony Adams lifted him up at the end and he fell, broke his arm and that was the end of his season. It sparked umpteen newspaper hardlines but was truly dreadful for Steve Morrow. He never really seemed to get his place back after that. But a difficult season so far had given us a cup. Getting into cup finals has always been a strong suit for the Arsenal.

    Our Trophy? Of course it's ours

    And the FA Cup? Our trophy? We had Yeovil to start, the famed giantkillers. But they didn’t kill us giants. Ian Wright whacked in a hattrick including a delightful lobbed goal that sticks in my memory as we won 3-1. Ian Wright could score a goal by himself, similar to Henry and Bergkamp, he didn’t always need assists like a lot of strikers. As I have said in a previous blog, Lineker and Shearer blocked his path to many more England caps but I truly believe he was better than either of those. They needed providers. I liked him long before he became an Arsenal player and a compilation of his best goals will always include that one.

    Next up was Leeds at Highbury, the champions but struggling this season. We were without Ian Wright who was enjoying the cups but was suspended for this one. Gary Speed did a cheeky dink past Seaman to score the first for Leeds  and then Lee Chapman scrambled another in. It looked bleak but it’s only Ray Parlour slotted one home and then Paul Merson hit a screamer to give us the draw. On to Elland Road for the replay but Ian Wright returned to score 2 and set up the other for Alan Smith. John Lukic for Leeds probably should have done better but we weren’t complaining.

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    Why did we sell David Rocastle?

    On to Ipswich and Ian Wright was bang in form again creating and scoring a penalty, then scoring another that was credited as an own goal but he really made it happen. Tony Adams and Kevin Campbell got the others for 4-2.

    A Sweet 1-0

    Hello, the Spuds next and it was time to show them who was boss. Paul Merson chipped in a free kick,  Tony Adams stole in and headed it in to send the Spuds home crying and we once again proved we were the Arsenal. 1-0 to the Arsenal is always sweet on the Seven Sisters road.

    Sheffield Wednesday again in the final. I doubt if that has happened before or since but as I have said, they were good then. They were probably the better team on the day as David Seaman produced some great saves but Ian Wright our talisman scored first before David Hirst, their talisman, finally managed to beat Dave Seaman and a replay was next.

    They shouldn't have given us a second chance

    This was much better with both sides creating chances until Ian Wright scored. Then Chris Waddle got one in from a deflection by Lee Dixon. It went to extra time and was just about to go to penalties when Paul Merson whacked in a corner. Andy Linighan, who was carrying an injury from earlier in the match rose high to knock it in and we were the winners again, a rare double of both cups and even rarer against the same team with the same score 2-1. Honestly, I felt a bit sorry for Wednesday, they had a good side and they don’t get many chances at such things. But we had done it again.

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     Poor Mark Bright. His good friend Ian Wright broke his heart twice

    The league was poor though as I have said. Highlights were few. We beat Palace and Coventry 3-0 and Southampton 4-3. I guess we could argue that we were kings of London despite finishing below QPR and the Spuds.

    David O’Leary finished up that season with a record number of appearances, 722, which will probably never be beaten.  He scarcely featured and moved on to Leeds. Why is there no statue? And Ian Wright notched up 50 goals in 68 appearances this season as well.

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    A testimonial but no statue

    A strange season, all the same. The 2 cup wins were fantastic and showed great resilience but the league form was poor. I put it down to the backpass rule as the team looked discommoded in the league whereas, as you have to win a cup match, they played with more freedom.

    The cups wins gave me hope, that eternal emotion of a football fan. Next season we would be back to winning the league. I was sure of it.

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     A freak accident for Steve Morrow epitomised our season!

     


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