FA Cup Semi-Finals

Arsenal have played in a record 24 FA cup semi-finals. Saturday will be Arsenal’s 25th.

Arsenal’s first FA cup semi-final was back in 1906, which they lost 2-0 to Newcastle United.

The following year, 1907, Arsenal again made it to the FA cup semi-final, losing 3-1 to Sheffield Wednesday.

The first time Arsenal won an FA cup semi-final was in 1927 when they beat Southamton 2-1.

Arsenal have won 17 FA cup semi-finals.

Saturday will be Arsenal’s 8th FA cup semi-final with Arsene Wenger as manager. Wenger has won 5 out 7 FA cup semi-finals. His two defeats were against Manchester United in 1999 and 2004.

Arsenal have never beaten Manchester United in any semi-final. Arsenal lost to United in the 1983 FA cup semi-final 2-1 after taking the lead through Tony Woodcock. I was gutted that day. I had to listen to the match on the radio as the game was not televised live. We had already lost a league cup semi-final to them that season 6-3 on aggregate. So to lose another one and listen to it on the radio was enough to give me thoughts of suicide.

I was nine years old.

I was too young to remember Arsenal beating Orient (Leyton Orient today) back in 1978. I do remember losing the final to Bobby Robson’s Ipswich 1-0. Pain from that defeat turned me into a Gooner, but it wasn’t until our epic semi-finals of 1980 against Liverpool that I became a fanatic. It took four games to beat Liverpool that year. The first three games having finished 0-0, 1-1 and 1-1. I listened to every game on the radio.

Today, replays in semi-finals no longer exist. The 1999 semi-final replay against Man United was the last.

Arsenal have only played two semi-finals at Wembley. Both were against Spurs. In 1991, a Gazza and Lineker inspired Spurs to beat Arsenal 3-1. That game will always be remembered for Gazza’s 30 yard free-kick. I watched that game in The Cock Tavern right next to Highbury and Islington tube station. It was the first FA semi-final involving Arsenal that I watched live on TV.

I really hated Spurs that day. They stopped Arsenal from doing the double that year. It took a long time to get over that defeat. Still it’s good to see Gazza doing well in life these days. How many cans of beer was he drinking before he went back into rehab? 35. England’s finest!

Two seasons later, I watched Arsenal beat Spurs 1-0 in another semi-final held at Wembley. Tony Adams scored a header from a Paul Merson free-kick. The tension among Gooners was intense as we could not face losing to the Scum again in such a high profile game. I remember there being a lot of angry Spurs fans and a big ruck at Kings Cross tube station but not much else.

I was living in Atlanta when we beat Spurs at Old Trafford in 2001. By then Spurs were a spent force. Arsenal should have beaten them by more than 2-1.

Arsenal have played Chelsea in two FA cup semi-finals – 1950 and 1952 – wining both after replays. I’m sure that today’s players won’t have a clue about those two results. Nor should they. The result they will remember is the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in the Carling cup final back in 2007. That game finished in a brawl – which Arsenal won – and left three Arsenal players with lengthy bans.

The list of teams that have beaten Arsenal in FA cup semi-finals is below:

1906 Newcastle United
1907 Sheffield Wednesday
1973 Sunderland
1983 Manchester United
1991 Spurs
1999 Manchester United
2004 Manchester United

Let’s hope Chelsea won’t be added to that list.

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