Arsenal is set to make yet another FA Cup history when it takes to the field in an FA Cup Final match for the 20th time. Yes, I said 20th. This is a feat that has never been achieved by any other football club in the entire history of the competition that spans 146 years back. Arsenal is also the joint most successful team in the longest-running cup competition in the world, having clinched the coveted trophy a whopping dozen times, alongside Manchester United.
If Wenger’s side manages to beat the English Premier League champions, Chelsea, this coming Saturday, they will without a doubt be crowned the undisputed Cup Kings.
Rich FA Cup Competitions History
The Gunners have a long and rich history in the FA Cup, having made their maiden foray into the competitions 128 years ago, as The Royals. To announce their arrival, the young South London team thrashed Lyndhurst 11-0 in the first Qualifying Round which took place on October 5th, 1889. Even though The Royals would later be knocked out by Swifts, in the 4th Qualifying Round, the side had already firmly announced their presence in the FA Cup competitions in style.
The following season, the team properly made it through the Qualifiers and to the First Round, where the ‘Champions of the South’ welcomed Derby County to Plumstead. On January 17th, 1891, the Rams edged past the Royals in a 2-1 victory, before a record crowd of 8,000 at the Manor Ground.
It wasn’t until the turn of the century that the South London side, now renamed Woolwich Arsenal, managed to beat the 1st Round jinx. They beat Blackburn Rovers 2-0, in February 1901, before being edged out by an aggressive West Bromwich Albion.
The Gunners finally made it to Wembley for the first time in 1927, only to lose 1-0 to a resurgent Cardiff City team which was known to be on the losing side in the Cup Final just a couple of years earlier.
The Gunners keeper Dan Lewis blamed the lone goal on his shiny shirt, which led to the blunder that let the ball wriggle under his body, resulting in the only goal of the match. For the first – and thus far only – time in the history of the FA Cup, the famous trophy was won by a Welsh side.
How Prepared Is Wenger’s Side for Saturday’s Crucial Match?
As the Gunners take on the Premier League Champions Chelsea at the historical Wembley on Saturday evening, many are of the view that the Arsene Wenger side really needs to win the game in order to regain some of its lost glory, after a disappointing EPL campaign and a failure to qualify for the Champions League. Arsenal must maintain its winning streak and colourful history in the FA Cup competitions.
However, it is reported that the Gunners boss Arsene Wenger might be forced to make a last-minute call on whether or not to include Shkodran Mustafi in his FA Cup Final squad. Most people feel that the French tactician is faced with a real problem in defence for the titanic clash with the bullish Antonio Conte side.
With Laurent Koscielny on suspension after being red-carded in their game against Everton last weekend, and Gabriel is out with a serious knee injury, Wenger’s dilemma can only get more complicated. The situation worsens with Mustafi missing this week’s training as a result of a concussion.
As much as the player remains optimistic that he is going to play, the final verdict is definitely out of his hands since he has to pass rigorous FA and Premier League guidelines following the blow to the head he suffered last Tuesday night.
If Mustafi is forced to sit on the bench, Wenger might be potentially forced to field a temporary back three of Rob Holding, Per Mertesacker, and Nacho Monreal. With a high number of football fans poised to make their bets this weekend, many fingers will be closed as people await the outcome of the scintillating Saturday evening clash.