21 May 2005 – the FA Cup Final
We won the FA Cup in 2014, and before that in 2005.
And while most commentators thought the 2014 final was a good one to watch, the general feeling was that the 2005 final wasn’t.
I was in Cardiff that day, which was lucky, because so was the Cup Final, and we all noted how both teams were equal in appearances in the final by that day (17 each) and the win for Arsenal would make them equal on wins and defeats in the final.
By 2014 they are still equal in terms of wins, final defeats, and even the number of wins for Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger at five each.
The league table had finished with Arsenal easily ahead of Man U but a distance between the oil-powered Chelsea. Interesting to see Bolton and Middlesbrough about Tottenham who finished in 9th.
Arsenal had already won the Community Shield for the season against Man U, but lost the two league games between the clubs. This was also notable as being the first cup final meeting between the two since 1979 when Alan Sunderland did his stuff.
And, as is often the case, it was a time when Man U fans were not happy – this time because Malcolm Glazer had taken over the club. There was much talk of huge demonstrations inside and outside the ground. But as so often with proposed large demonstrations, they didn’t happen except in the mind of journalists.
As for us, there was no Henry – he was injured, so we had Bergkamp up front on his own with Gilberto Silva, Reyes and Pires playing behind. Sol Campbell was not used although fit – Senderos playing instead.
During the game Bergkamp was replaced by Ljungberg, Robin van Persie came on in place of Cesc Fàbregas, and Edu replaced Pirès for the last 15 minutes.
Much of the game as I remember it involved Man U appealing for handball every time the ball hit any part of an Arsenal player – and sometimes when it didn’t, and as always when Keene was on the pitch it got fractious, and not particularly good to watch.
Reyes had got his first yellow card for a marginally late tackle on Silvestre, In the second half he did it again and got a warning. Scholes then attempted to get Reyes carried off with a horrible tackle, but he too just got a yellow card. Quinton Fortune assaulted Ljungberg in the face with his arm but got no card, and so feeling himself immune to the laws of the game committed an awful high tackle on Edu. Arsenal reacted, the ref looked to have lost all control. It was one of those who emotion, but low football games.
At the very end Ronaldo ran towards the goal but was stopped by Reyes, and the ref, having let an awful lot go desperately tried to salvage his reputation with a second yellow for Reyes seconds before the final whistle.
In the shoot out Scholes took the second penalty and it was saved by Lehmann. The other penalties were scored so Vieira walked up and scored the final penalty – his last kick before leaving Arsenal for Juve and the ignominy of having a championship removed by the courts for repeated match fixing by his new club.
We’d won the cup – just as we did nine years later.