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A Crazy year
Augustine Worth posted an article in London CallingThe Table of Doom Update Arsenal Current 75 Max 93 Man City(a) Newcastle (a) Brighton(h) Man City Max 94 Brighton (a) Arsenal (h) Man Utd Max 83 Brighton(a) Newcastle Max 83 Arsenal(h) Brighton Max 76 Man Utd(h)Man City (h) Arsenal(a) Liverpool gone Tottenham gone And so the hapless Spuds are gone, hit by a tornado, juggernaut, hurricane, express train, tsunami and a Howe as six disasters fell upon them at the new, the shiny, and the emptying White Hart Lane. Champions league is looking difficult for them and I feel the only answer is to bring back ‘Arry. Harry Redknapp is the answer, Spuds. But don’t tell any Gooner I told you that, I might get lynched. If Harry Kane goes, life could get worse for the Spuds Brighton now look like kingmakers. They play Man Utd and could easily have won their FA cup semi-final. They were the better side and I think they will beat them at home, leaving the Mancs with a maximum of 80. Brighton are just hanging on to the Table of Doom but could have a big impact on Champions league places and the title. Once we destroy Man City in our next match Man Utd will have 80 max, in this scenario, leaving them almost gone from the table of doom. Then Brighton have Man City at home. They might just get something, they are a tough side home and away. And then they have us away. Beating them could be key if we are still in it. I reckon most neutrals want us to win. The City money machine is not popular. Nuke Hassle away is also going to be tough for us. Every game is going to be crucial. I hope we can stand up and be counted. This is a great season And if I could turn this season on its head, I feel we would have totally different emotions. If City had blazed out in front and we were coming up behind them now for top spot, winning all our matches like earlier and they were struggling a bit, and we end up a close second, ahead of Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea, the Spuds, and even the new moneybags, Nuke Hassle, we would be so happy. Some happy Gooners Oh, and by the way, if anyone had read my previous piece, The Art of Prediction, you would see that I was hit by the commentator’s curse. I said that we either win or lose, rarely draw, and now we have had 3 in a row. Let’s get back to being Arsenal, Mikel, I told you many times, the only currency you can trade in is wins. And let’s start by putting ourselves right back in it by beating City. Although, as I have said last week, it is common for teams to drop points in the squeaky bum part of the competition. Has this been the strangest season in the modern era? Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham all look pretty certain to finish outside the top four and Champions league places and only Liverpool have not gone through traumatic manager changes. I wondered if this is the first time only one of the top four remain from the previous season. I decided to go back to 1998 when Uefa changed the qualifying rules allowing multiple entrants from countries. Frankie ready for the boot So, in 2021, Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea all qualified but Spurs changed with Man Utd. The world is as we expect. In 2020, we had the same top four, Liverpool, City, Man Utd and Chelsea. In 2019 we had Man Utd change places with Spurs. No surprises, so. In 2018, Spurs changed places with Chelsea. In 2017, Chelsea changed places with Man Utd. In 2016, we had 2 changes, Leicester won and Arsenal came second with Tottenham and City also there. In 2015, Chelsea and Man Utd for Leicester and the Spuds. Again 2 changes. A merry go round with the same faces In 2014, Liverpool came in for Man Utd. In 2013 we had Chelsea, Arsenal, Man Utd and Man City with Utd replacing Liverpool. In 2012 we had the Spuds come in for Chelsea. In 2011 they swopped places. In 2010 City was replaced by the Spuds. This was the last time City was out of the top four. Even this seismic event only produced 2 changes In 2009, Liverpool replaced the Spuds. In 2008, same again. In 2007, again the same. In 2006, the same. In 2005, Everton under David Moyes replaced Liverpool. In 2004, Liverpool had been in, alongside the 3 main contenders, Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea. In 2003, Newcastle were there instead of Liverpool. In 2002, Liverpool were there instead of Chelsea. In 2001, Leeds Utd were there instead of Newcastle. In 2000, It was no change. In 1999 we had Man Utd, Arsenal, Leeds and Chelsea. In 1998 we had Arsenal, Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea. In 1997, the first year of challenging for multiple entrants, we had Man Utd, Newcastle, Arsenal and Liverpool which is one change. Money is the deciding factor I am pretty certain if I went back further it would be similar. Only one of the current top four to remain has to be very unusual. Of course, Liverpool could make it in to the top four this year but they are 9 points behind Man Utd and Newcastle with Utd having a game in hand and only 7 matches for Liverpool to make up the deficit. It’s possible but unlikely. In fact the normal seems to be one change or no change since Arsene Wenger’s fourth trophy has been up for grabs. Leicester’s remarkable season and the one before produced 2 changes. Roberto De Zerbi has done an amazing job at Brighton One thing that has changed in football has been money. Big money brings Champions league and Man City, Man Utd, Newcastle and ourselves have big money at their disposal. So have Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham. Villa, making a probably doomed late charge for CL, have billionaire owners. Brighton has more modest ownership and is the only one of the contenders who has. Also he is English, a rarity in the Premier league. Spurs have a quasi English ownership. I would love Brighton to do it but as I also want us to beat them we could make it even harder for them. As has Unai Emery at Villa The craziest year And so we are left with a crazy year. Liverpool, the mentality monsters, look very fragile. Chelsea spent zillions but are playing like headless chickens. Tottenham refused to back Mr Conte and he very definitely showed his displeasure in an unexpected outburst. It all seems to have gone wrong for them. Newcastle jumped up from 11th but spent a lot. Credit must go to Eddie Howe, an unlikely choice but it seems like an inspired one. And it is probably good to have an English manager challenging. Could Balogun make an impact? It makes me wonder about next year. 8 teams with big money, and Brighton, Brentford and Fulham looking good. Logically, Champions league is going to be a mighty battle next year. City, surely, will be there, but of the rest? Who knows? Maybe we could go astray because we have Champions league to negotiate. We need to strengthen, particularly at centre back and centre forward. Could Balogun make the grade? Maybe a top goalkeeper as well as Arteta doesn’t seem to trust Turner. But above all else, no matter what happens this season, we need our young boys to improve, we could do with some of the academy guys pushing for places, and we need to develop that killer instinct which makes us Arsenal. The process continues and long may it reign.
What it is to be an Arsenal fan
Augustine Worth posted an article in London CallingThe Table of Doom Update Arsenal Current 73 Max 97 Man City(a) Newcastle (a) Brighton(h) Man City Max 94 Brighton (a) Arsenal (h) Man Utd Max 83 Brighton(a) Tottenham(a) Newcastle Max 83 Tottenham(h) Arsenal(h) Tottenham Max 79 Newcastle(a) Man Utd(h) Brighton Max 76 Man Utd(h)Man City (h) Arsenal(a) Liverpool Max 71 gone The first team to go has emerged. Liverpool’s max is 71 and we have 73. Bye, bye Scousers, yes, you gave us a crazy upside down match, but we are the only ones still vying for the top place. Brighton are now given an almost impossible task of winning all their matches to catch us and surely they will be next to go. I have removed Liverpool’s games from the list as they are no longer eligible for the Table of Doom. City, Utd, Newcastle, and the Spuds all won (although they should have been reported to the police for robbing Brighton of 3 points) and it may be a tight end of season for the fourth place CL. At the moment you have to fancy that the top four will stay in place. Can we do it? Yes, we can and if we do, then only the craziness of the Liverpool game will remain. Man Utd’s hammering at the same ground may not so easily be erased but unless Liverpool can scramble an unlikely maximum points by winning all and fourth place is at 71, which seems unlikely, then they are also out of CL for the first time since 2016. A huge letdown for the team, who, last year, looked like a different kind of invincible as they chased all 4 major trophies. What’s it like being an Arsenal fan? The Arsenal double winners of 1971 - the only time it was won by a bunch of granddads I feel being an Arsenal fan is different to all others: 1. We were the innovators, instigating many features which are still around today 2. We are the top FA Cup team 3. We had the first successful foreign manager 4. We were the winners of the most dramatic end of a season ever 5. We had marble halls to show our class 6. We were the only team ever to call foul on itself when offering to replay an FA Cup game against Sheffield United because we took a throw in wrongly 7. We have never been relegated from the top division 8. We have been renowned for looking after former players 9. We had 7 Irishmen on the pitch at one time and an Irish manager 10. We beat Real Madrid, Juventus, and Villareal on the way to a Champions League final without conceding a goal 11. We are the only team to win the double in the old First Division and the Premier league 12. We are the Invincibles Seven Irishmen on one team - only at the Arsenal And there’s probably lots more that are not coming to mind at present. But it is hard It’s also the most infuriating thing ever being an Arsenal supporter. My first 3 years being an Arsenal supporter included winning the old Fairs Cup (Euro League) then the amazing double as we weren’t considered anywhere near the best team in England then falling apart to the point that relegation seemed a possibility. Coming back with 3 FA Cup finals in a row, then going downhill again, only for George Graham to appear and put us back on the winning track. Rioch, the worst manager in my lifetime Then he gets done for taking a bung, despite it being prevalent in English football at the time, he is the only one I can remember being sanctioned for it. Then a hopeless manager in Bruce Rioch (he famously didn’t rate Ian Wright, who went on to be our top scorer) and then Arsene who?, a manager plucked from the Japanese League in a moment of pure idiocy. But somehow, it was good idiocy as he quickly delivered a double, and pummelled the entitled team and fans of Manchester United into despair. They recovered, though, and we went through ten years of back and forth battles as we vied to be the best team in the land. Our first Premier League double - can we make it four and break the record? The Emirates put us back among the big boys Then we put together the Emirates stadium at a huge cost to the finances of the team. We suffered as we struggled to even hold a place at the top table, never mind the top place. Then we lost that as well, falling down to Europa League and even not that. The Emirates stadium was necessary, though, as Highbury was not sustainable for a top team. But we sacrificed the man who was responsible for making us the top team in the land, filled with exciting stars, shining brighter than any other, such as Henry, Bergkamp and Vieira. Wenger knew that without the Emirates, that decline would have happened anyway. He persisted in creating the conditions that would make us the best again. We struggled to find a successful manager without him and finally took a chance on an unproven former player in Mikel Arteta, who impressed with his love of Arsenal, and his knowledge and vision of the game. He had a great start but then he had problems with big stars who didn’t want to listen to him. The performances suffered and we were criticized for having a weak underbelly, falling apart when it mattered. Arteta tries to add steel Arteta has worked hard to correct that, believing that the only way to combat it is to win even after setbacks, to encourage every player to have constant improvement, to have routines in training that inspire partnerships and understanding and that crushing will to win. Unai Emery frustrated me at Arsenal That has been my life up to now, hoping and hoping that Arsenal can win. Screaming at the screen with the possibilities that my heroes can score. Complaining each time we drop points that the manager should have done something different, done it my way. Rarely for me, though, calling for the manager to go, Bruce Rioch being the main one and Unai Emery as well, although Emery is, obviously, a good manager, but maybe better with an emerging team than an established one full of big stars with big egos like Aubameyang. Our most exciting player and never a complaint by the manager Most of the managers I have seen have been Arsenal through and through, Wenger being an obvious exception, but he grew to be the true embodiment of Arsenal, a love affair that persists, just like all us fans. I wake up in the morning thinking of Arsenal, although the constant pings from the web group at ASCB help in this regard. Us fans also have our favourites, different from other fans, as we wonder why the manager persists with some players, and doesn’t play others. Zinchenko for me is the former and Smith Rowe is the latter. Tierney is a better defender as far as I am concerned and Smith Rowe should at least be among the first subs to be used. Joys and heartaches Ah, but that is what it is to be a fan. We all have opinions, and sometimes we change them. It is only fans like me, that write every week, where you can see me getting it wrong, changing my mind, and can challenge me on it. The written word doesn’t fly away. And so we scream, we shout, we cry in despair, we jump for joy, we hug all around, and we are in bad humour for the weekend after a defeat. We send messages on the forums and social media, we try to get tickets, but most of all we are part of one big Arsenal family and long may it be so.
Where can we finish? 2023 part 3
Augustine Worth posted an article in London CallingOurs is gold Rocket powered Gunners Games: Newcastle (h) Spurs (a) Man Utd (h) Everton (a) Brentford (h) Man City (h) Aston Villa (a) Leicester (a) Bournemouth (h) Fulham (a) Palace (h) So, here we are, flying turbo charged into the stratosphere, looking at all the lesser teams floundering and gasping in our wake, and singing Arsenal are the greatest football team. Can we continue? Yes, we can. Will we continue? Ah, that is the question. But then, that is my job, and why ASCB pay me my huge salary every week, to answer the difficult questions. I am going to do 11 matches, give you the results and what that will mean for our chances. Our old matadors Of course, this has been a very difficult season to call, it’s virtually win win win, which given recent years, was hard to see. This spell is going to be a challenge, partly because this is a dangerous stretch of matches against the best out there and 4 derbies. Because the winter is generally when leagues are won, digging in when cold rain is pelting down on you and every item on your body is soaking ice into your veins and you can hardly see in front of you. January, February and March are tough times and only the strong survive it. Are Arsenal such a team? Yes, there is a steel there, plenty of players like Saka and Martinelli who take all the kicks and still play exhilarating football. Getting out alive of the bullring Anyway, on to predictions. If anyone read last weeks missive, then you would know I predicted an Arsenal win against West Ham. It brought us up to an astonishing 40 points. Then I predicted a draw away to Brighton here as they seem to always cause us problems. But we got a crazy win, 4-2, strolling through the match like matadors against calves, until suddenly, Brighton became tigers and we were a bit lucky at the end. I didn’t know calves could turn into tigers and neither did Arsenal – a lesson to be learned. Our new matadors I also normally analyse what we need to finish in certain positions, like Europa League, Champions league and not realistically the title, but this time, well, it is massively different. 22 matches to go and even relegation form at 22 points gives us 65, enough for Europa League, probably not enough for Champions League. Beat the weaker animals Looking at the 11 matches above I have insisted many times that we must put away the 7 lesser teams so that would give us 21 points. If we achieve that it is 64 and 11 matches to go. A great position. Against the four teams close to us in the table I would take 4 points and that is 68 with 11 games to go, an even better position. But let’s go through them one by one. And I do hear you saying that they are all lesser teams at the moment. Nuke Hassle at the Emirates. It could well be a real Nuke Hassle as they never concede goals. A statement win here and confidence and belief will soar. They are bulls, yes, but we are the matadors. I like this one, so one nil to the Arsenal would do me nicely. 46 points and fear coursing through the rest. Don’t let the Spuds upset us Conte's teams like upsetting other teams The Spuds away. They are very up and down this season. But this one, and Conte’s physical, negative, counterattacking style, could discommode us. They are not bulls, more like hyenas, snapping away at us all the time. We must not lose concentration or control of our emotions. We could be gored badly. If we remember we are the matadors it could be a win but I fear it could be an ugly match and an uglier draw. 1-1 and 47 points. We can never sleep Man Utd? I should be there and I am hoping for a nice birthday present and a win. We owe them for the last time. We fell asleep and gifted them 3 goals. They were not really bulls, more greyhounds finding us snoozing in the traps. They may well have a new striker by then but surely our defence can cope? I believe we will win in a high scoring game 3-2 and 50 points. Maybe Man Utd will bring this guy back? Everton away. We must win here by my above logic but they are starting to put their defence together. Not so much bulls as sheep crowded in front of their goal. They have conceded few despite their lowly position. We may need to draw our sword and cleave a way through. This may well be a draw unless we can break them down. If Calvert Lewin is back they may even be able to score. I am going to go for a 0-0. 51 points. Brentford home. I fancy this one. I think we can win. We know how dangerous they can be. Bees, yes, but ones we can control. If we marshal them well, allow them to fly around aimlessly, distracted by our red shirts, then we can fire in 3 goals. 3-0 to the Arsenal and 54 points. Bullfighters versus bullfighters We can beat them, you know Then the match of the season for us. If all goes as I have said so far we will still be comfortably in front. City must play Chelsea away, Man Utd away and the Spuds home and away. They could easily drop points. They have 36 points now at 16 matches, 2 less than last season. This tough schedule ahead of them could see them a few points less than the 53 that they had at 21 games last season, maybe 50 or less. This match could easily be crucial for them to get back in touch and they will be desperate to win. They are more matadors than bulls, they try to control games and put teams to the sword but this time our red shirts show that we are the best, we are the Arsenal and at home we deliver a strong blow to Guardiola’s self-belief. 2-1 to the Arsenal, 57 points and City don’t know what is happening to them. He could make it a bad ebening for us The euphoria of that win puts us super confident against the Villa away. Unai Emery seems to up his game against us, though. Somehow we forget our red shirt, complacency sets in, the Villa think they are wolves and we allow ourselves to be outfought and end up running towards the stand rather than applying a short, sharp blow with our sword. 1-0 to the Villains and we stay at 57 points. You must be able to fight for your wins It was the wake up blow that we needed. Fight brings you wins over the season, not fancy dan moves. So, next, Leicester again away and they try to prove they are Foxes but are easily cast aside by our determination to play 90 minutes. We fly out of the traps, score an early goal, and stay in control, keeping a tight rein on them, not allowing them space or any place to hide. They scurry back to their lair with 3 goals conceded. 3-0 and 60 points. Bournemouth at the Emirates. Again the sore memory of defeat by Villa mean we are ready to play, to fight and to work as a unit. No slippage as we run out 2-0 winners. 63 points and everyone knows that we are Arsenal and we are back. 2 derbies in a row Fulham are doing so well under Marco de Silva and at Craven Cottage they show why. We struggle to get a rhythm, our sword seems to be left at home and we give them chances. Our defence and Ramsdale have one of their best games and a draw is the best we can manage. 0-0 and 64 points. Patrick will make Palace fight Crystal Patrick next. He badly wants to beat us but we remember the indignity of last year. Arteta has them so well prepared it is unbelievable. We show them we are the matadors but they show us they are fighters and clever to boot. 2-1 sees us home in one of the hardest fought games we have had. We show steel, grit, adroitness, speed and pure ability, as we cement our place at the top after 27 matches. 67 points, one ahead of where City were last year but nicely in front of them now. Yes, I am being optimistic here, but I feel justifiably so. This team are good, getting better, growing together. We now have so many key players we can unlock any team. We have a team of matadors, ready to confront any animal put in front if us, even the hyenas of Spurs. C’mon the Arse!
Head to head rivalries Arsenal vs Valencia
Augustine Worth posted an article in London CallingArsenal vs Valencia Happy face, happy heart Broken, broken, broken hearts Ah, Valencia, I spent a memorable holiday there and loved it. But I can say one thing with something close to certainty, Unai Emery would probably still be manager now if the form we showed in beating Valencia in the semis of the Europa League had carried on to the Final. It didn’t and maybe it sometimes can be good to lose as I feel he didn’t fit Arsenal. He seemed a gentleman, very knowledgeable on football and his record in Spain was exemplary, as was his record in Europe. But Chelsea destroyed us, he never really recovered, and it paved the way for Arteta to take over, a manager that does fit Arsenal, even if he has his detractors. Unai Emery is part of this rivalry, though, and I will return to him in this blog. Emery's heart was taken out by Chelsea The thing is, Valencia are not a team we have played often. I will give you the bare statistics as they tell you almost nothing – 7 games, 3 wins, 3 losses and one draw. So, even stevens? Absolutely not. They have broken our hearts more than once and more than twice. And without the master from Spain, Mr Emery, maybe every tie would have gone their way. First Cut is the Deepest Let’s take the draw, the first match. We matched them, yes? Eh, no. It was the European Cupwinners Cup of 1980. It was our 70th match of the season, yes, you read that right, numerous cup replays against the great Liverpool and others meant Arsenal were tired, stretched and were beaten by West Ham in the FA cup final only 4 days before. Valencia had the exquisite Mario Kempes and the sublime Rainer Bonhof amongst others. But we had beaten the Masters Juventus on our way to the final. Liam Brady was our great and was now about to prove it on the big European stage. But their leader was the extraordinary Alfredo Di Stefano, often touted as the best player ever, as their manager. Despite his reputation, and his star names, they played it cagey, keeping a tight rein on Brady, giving away few chances. So yes, we got a draw 0-0 but they won on penalties, such a rare thing at the time that John Motson, for the BBC, kept explaining what was going to happen. Kempes missed the first and then we had Brady, very reliable from the spot. Except that night. The stars imploded. He missed. And then all the way to the 6th man and a very nervous Graham Rix needed to score. Pereira sensed his nervousness and saved quite easily. Valencia are our daddies from the start. Heart-breaking to lose 2 finals in a few days. Are you listening, Liverpool? Other teams have lost 2 trophies one after the other in heart-breaking fashion. Mario Kempes somehow missed And so the next time, Arsene Wenger had appeared. We probably had the best team in Europe yet were struggling to prove it in the Champions league. It was April 2001, the quarter finals and we had all our big stars except Bergkamp, Kanu substituting for him. They had a good team but not up to our class and so we beat them 2-1 at home after they went one up first half with Robert Ayala. Henry and it’s only Ray Parlour scored 2 in 2 minutes to give us a win. Ayala’s goal was the decider as they won the return 1-0 with a second half goal from John Carew. Again they are our daddies. We should have beaten them but somehow Wenger couldn’t do it in Europe most of the time. Heartbreak city. You have got to remember we had such a sublime side with players all clubs wanted. Liam Brady also missed Don’t go breaking my heart And so next season we got our chance for revenge. We had got through to the second group stage and played them first at home. We had Bergkamp back but we limped along to a 0-0. Then the return? John Carew scored on 34 to put them through. Eh, no, then Henry scored on 49 to put us through on away goals. Finally we will beat them? Nope, John Carew again on 57 to put them through. We learned to hate him, the big, lanky Norwegian. And so they did it again, stop sending us home crying, Valencia. Big John Carew -go away And so to our man, Emery. The poor guy suffered tremendous ad hominem attacks for us. Attacking his pronunciations, his strange English, his histrionics on the side of the pitch, in fact any personal attack that was possible. He quite rightly complained that Arteta was given far better treatment than he was despite similar results. And he was up against Valencia in the semi-finals of the Europa League in 2019, who each time before had beaten us like puppies. Owner of a lonely heart He was an expert on Valencia having managed them for several years and got them regularly into Champions league. He showed this expertise with Arsenal and a team we wouldn’t recognise today despite it only being 3 years. Cech, Kolasinic, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Koscielny, Mustafi, Aubameyang, Maitland Niles, Ozil, and Guendouzi played. But it all started out as normal – they scored after 11 minutes with Diakhaby and the curse of Valencia was still alive. Emery, despite his knowledge of the club couldn’t save us from another defeat. Except he could, Lacazette scored 2 shortly afterwards to give us a chance and then Aubameyang on 90 to give us a real chance of making the final of the trophy Emery was the master of. Not a total eclipse of my heart And so the second leg in Valencia. Surely we could finally beat them in a tie? Unbelievably they did it again on 11 minutes with Gameiro opening the scoring. I couldn’t take any more of Valencia, they always seemed to break our hearts. But this time Emery was too good for them as Aubameyang was on fire. A hat trick on 17, 69 and 88 meant it was one of his best matches. Lacazette got another on 50 so that another from Gameiro didn’t matter. We had finally got it, the win we wanted over Valencia. The bogeyman had been slain and it was Unai Emery, in his finest moment for us, who did it. To my mind, he was our most unpopular manager since Bruce Rioch but over those 2 matches he was good. Of course, Chelsea trashed us and he then tarnished that memory. Terry Neill couldn’t beat them nor Arsene Wenger, but Emery did. At least thank you for that memory. You didn’t deserve, nor does anyone, the personal attacks. 3 goals to break the Bats hearts And so, what next? I am sure we will meet them again. We have finally got on top. Let us hope that the Valencia curse has finally gone away.
Head to head rivalries Arsenal vs Liverpool
Augustine Worth posted an article in London CallingArsenal v Liverpool We got the only League Cup final win over Liverpool in 1987 Our biggest rivals? The strange thing is, when I started this series, I began with Tottenham. However, they have not been our biggest rivals at all. In fact, unless I concentrated on the past few years in which we were poor but they still won nothing, they have rarely been true hard opponents. And finding interesting angles was a bit tricky as there wasn’t all that many. Tottenham are worse than us, it’s as simple as that. But that is not true of Liverpool. When you look at our joint history there are so many angles that you will never get them all in. And I speak as someone who can look at only 55 years or so. There are so many fascinating matches and scores in the past and I would have loved to live through them. What it means though, is that Liverpool will take me at least two blogs. And this is the first where I concentrate on the cups. Liverpool are probably our true biggest rivals overall. We have had so many epic games. Heartbreak in the Champions League The Champions League was a big misery for me. Regular readers know that is my number one prize. You all remember we were drawn against them in 2008 in the last 8. The annoying thing about this tie was that we were better than them and had been for many seasons. We had gone a bit backward from the Invincibles but still above Liverpool. The first leg was at home and honestly we were quite a bit better than them, lots more chances and Hleb was robbed of a penalty but there was two early goals , one a nice header from Adebayor on 23 and then a bit of a scramble from Dirk Kuyt on 26 to level it. We just couldn’t score even though Jamie Carragher pretended to be hurt in injury time to waste time. We played on rightly. He jumped up when he realized we were playing on. Yes, Jamie Carragher, cheaters do win Then the next match at Anfield where we had given ourselves a task. But we had form there and our greatest win ever as well. Diaby popped up on 13 to give us a chance. Could we hold on? 30 minutes and Hyppia scores. Torres on 69 to give them the advantage. Then on 84 we get the second away goal from Adebayor. I really thought we had done it. Surely we could hold on for a few minutes? As always, Liverpool get a dodgy penalty and Steven Gerrard, who I never liked, banged in the penalty. We laid siege but it was Ryan Babbel who got a late breakaway. We should have beaten them and I was sickened. Bad memories as we were so close and had played better than them over the 2 matches. But they ruined a good chance at the one trophy I wanted. The forgotten man Abou Diaby almost did it for us Blockbusters in the League Cup And so the League Cup? Our first time was in 1968 in the 4th round. We dispatched them 2-1 to lay down a marker. Ten years later we faced them in a 2 legged semi-final but they won 2-1. Even Stevens. In 1981 in the 4th round we drew 0-0 at Highbury but they beat us 3-0 at Anfield. But in 1987 we had them in the big one, the final and beat them 2-1. George Graham was laying down the foundations of his great side. Next season we got them again and they got their revenge 2-1 after 2 replays. But only in the 3rd round. In the next season we got them again in the 3rd round and beat them with our old favourite One nil to the Arsenal thanks to Alan Smith. It was to be 1995 and the quarterfinals for the next and Ian Rush popped up with a goal for 1-0 to Liverpool. Then 1996, 4th round and a game of 3 penalties, 2 for us, thanks Ian Wright, and one for them but 4-2 to them and we go home crying. We all loved this one especially the Beast Ah, but then we come to 2007 and one of our maddest games ever in the 5th round. You all remember this one, 6-3 and Julio Baptista knocked in 4. It was the highlight of his Arsenal career and all done at Anfield. Take that, Steven Gerrard! Don't turn your back on us, Gerrard 2009 and 2-1 to us 4th round. Then our first Spanish manager oversaw an equally crazy match as the 6-3 with 5-5. The tie swung crazily both ways but we thought we had done it on 70 with Joe Willock. But Origi scored on 90 and they won 5-4 on penalties. Most of the players are gone from that side but Martinelli is still here and he scored 2 that night. Our second Spanish manager Then 2020 and our second Spanish manager. 0-0 and penalties and a young guy called Joe Willock scored the decisive one under great pressure. Most of those players are still with us and I guess our second Spanish manager didn’t rate the players of the first Spanish manager. So proud to be at Arsenal Then, of course, this year and the semi-final. We did the hard work in the first leg at Anfield and 0-0 but they beat us 2-0 and Jota scored twice at the Emirates. In fairness, they are better than us at the moment but I do feel if this group stays together we have a real chance of the Premiership. I am going to claim the League Cup rivalry for us as we beat them in the only final. However they do have 9 trophies to our 2. I don’t think we will overhaul them in my lifetime. We do a lot for Charity The Charity Shield? We have 2 wins each but I am going to claim this as we have 16 to their 15 and we won the last as well. Another penalty shootout as seems to be the case nowadays and we won 5-4 after a 1-1 draw to give Arteta his second trophy. And so over 3 trophies we did pretty well. I do want to beat them on the way to a Champions league title. Their famous front three are coming to an end as are some of their big stars. If they don’t get top replacements they could be on a slide. But I would like to beat them while they are at the top. We are Arsenal, we beat the top teams. Next week I will look at the FA Cup and the league. Where can we finish update: We have a massive 83 points in our sights if we win all. Might even get us second. But I am not that big of an optimist. Leicester are a tricky side on form but we are so good at home. If we win this one we are ahead of my predictions but I think we will do it. And then today’s featured team Liverpool at home. It would be so nice to win that one. It would make the fabled 3rd spot a much better possibility and nauseate the chasing bunch.