Tag Archives: Wembley

AFC Wimbledon Five Years Ago Today

In the run up to the Papa Johns Troiphy match tonight for AFC Wimbledon against Arsenal, its interesting to look back five years in time to see what was happening then

Not quite to the exact day, but certainly, there are only four days difference, when a then League Two AFC Wimbledon, were beaten 2-1 at home by Stevenage.

Nothing quite so strange about that on face value… But when you look at the league position for the club after that match, then there are similarities

Indeed, if you compare then and now, AFC Wimbledon were sitting 13th as opposed to their current position of 14th in the table.

Points wise, meanwhile, The Dons had 28, from 21 matches and the exact same goal difference to that of today, which stands at -1.

The match after that defeat was a 2-2 draw in Wales against Newport County. So while a draw this evening against Arsenal’s U21s is hopefully to be avoided, so that the club can take strides towards the last 16 of a cup competition and emulate the recent experience of the clubs Under 18s. When they travelled to Yorkshire to Play Rotherham in the final of the alliance league, winning the game in the last minute, with the last kick of the match… From the goalkeeper of all people

So while the present day stats, based on the defeat on Sunday, make grim reading, the history records showed that not much has changed and in fact overall that season five years ago, the club went on a run which ended with play off victory against Plymouth at Wembley to secure their place in League One.

A similar run this season would be welcomed by all

Is history about to repeat itself? Here is hoping so……

Community Shield Preview: Can FA Cup winners Arsenal upset Champions Liverpool?

Arsenal take on Liverpool on Saturday in the traditional English football curtain raiser with a noticeable difference this year. For the first time ever the Community Shield will be played behind closed doors.

Although many see the game as a glorified friendly, with silverware on offer and the chance to iron out any withstanding issues from pre season in a competitive fixture, both managers will be using the game to make their final preparations for the upcoming Premier League season, which kicks off on the 12th September.

Factor in new signings and returning loan players looking to stake a claim for a starting berth for the new campaign and it becomes clear that this game will provide more than just a run out for both teams.

Liverpool will hope to go one better than last year, when they were beaten finalists at Wembley, losing out to Man City on penalties. They haven’t won the competition since 2006 and will be looking to add the Shield to the Premier League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup which they won last year.

Jurgen Klopp has almost a full squad available for the game, with two stars missing out through injury. PFA Young Player of the Year Trent Alexander-Arnold has been nursing a minor injury, which forced him to miss the entirety of Liverpool’s pre season training camp and fixtures in Austria.

He is expected to return to full training after the Shield final along with captain Jordan Henderson, who has been out since sustaining a knee injury against Brighton in July. He did travel with the Reds to Austria but completed his own rehabilitation training.

A look at Klopp’s starting eleven for the champions’ final pre season fixture, a 2-2 draw with RB Salzburg, gives a huge indication to the team he is likely to select on Saturday, bar any last minute injuries.

Alisson started in goal with Gomez and Van Dijk at centre back, Andy Robertson at left back and young Welshman Neco Williams deputising for Alexander-Arnold at right back.

A midfield three of Keita, Fabinho and Wijnaldum was deployed along with the attacking trio of Mané, Salah and Firmino, arguably Liverpool’s best XI with the players available.

Van Dijk could be a doubt for the game however, after suffering a nasty cut to the eye which left him bloodied and forced Klopp to withdraw him as a precaution.

One player pushing for a start is Rhian Brewster who has continued his goal scoring exploits for Swansea in the Reds’ pre season fixtures. He netted three in two games, and has impressed Klopp and his coaching staff since returning to Merseyside.

He will likely make an appearance off the bench in the final along with new signing Kostas Tsimikas, who arrived for a £12 million fee earlier in the month. Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliot, Takumi Minamino, James Milner and Adrian should also be named on the bench.

Arsenal meanwhile, will be looking to get their hands on the shield for the first time since 2017 and send out a warning to the league that they will be top four challengers this season.

Mikel Arteta’s men have been preparing for the upcoming campaign at home and played their first friendly on Tuesday, just 24 days after they lifted the FA Cup at Wembley.

They defeated MK Dons 4-1 at the MK Stadium with relative ease as forgotten man Mohamed Elneny opened the scoring and youngsters McGuinness, Nketiah and Nelson also got in on the act.

The Gunners also named a strong starting eleven, with goalkeeper Bernd Leno returning between the sticks after a spell on the sidelines through injury.

Cedric Soares, a permanent acquisition from Southampton started at right back, with William Saliba making his first appearance for Arsenal after spending last season on loan in France with St Etiene.

His centre back partner was Rob Holding who unfortunately scored an own goal whilst Kieran Tierney played left back.

Maitland-Niles, who is linked with a move away from the Emirates started in midfield along with Elneny, Xhaka and Saka, whilst Aubameyang and Nketiah were paired up top.

Reiss Nelson made an impressive cameo from the bench, (which was made up predominantly of youth players) and is pushing to start at the weekend. Nicholas Pepe, new signing Willian and David Luiz weren’t included in the squad, but are likely to be handed starting roles for Saturday’s final.

Héctor Bellerin also missed out against MK Dons but is sure to start if Arsenal opt to play a back four. Chambers, Mustafi, Mari and Martinelli are all still out with injuries.

Lacazette is also set to be named in the squad, but will in all likelihood appear from the bench later in the game. Özil and Guendouzi will miss out, having fallen out of favour under Arteta.

It is the perfect dress rehearsal for the league meeting between the two heavyweights, scheduled to take place just four weeks later on the 26th September.

If previous meetings between these two sides are anything to go by then goals in abundance should be expected.

Liverpool dominated proceedings at Anfield early in the season, beating the Gunners 3-1 at Anfield, before Arsenal got revenge after the restart, defeating the Reds 2-1 at the Emirates, converting the only two real chances they had in the game.

With both teams possessing clinical finishers up top and enjoying quick counterattacks and long periods of possession, it should be a highly intriguing encounter to kick off the 2020-21 campaign.

Liverpool no doubt go into the game as favourites after their terrific season last year, but as the Gunners have shown, they are a match for any top side on their day.

Kick off for this Saturday’s Community Shield Final at Wembley is 4:30 pm and the game is live on BT Sport.

Arsenal face Chelsea in all London FA Cup final

Saturday afternoon at 5.30 pm will see an all London Cup Final between Chelsea and Arsenal. These two London heavyweights will go toe to toe in what will be a unique occasion.

For the first time in its long and illustrious history, the final will be played in front of no fans.

Anthony Taylor will be in charge in his second FA Cup final. By some strange coincidence his first was the Final in 2017 between both of these sides.

These two London giants are used to meeting in a final at the end of the season, having been involved three times in the last four seasons with both sides having won two finals. Arsenal the FA Cup and Chelsea the League Cup Final and Europa League Final.

Arsenal are clearly the cup kings of England, having won the FA Cup a record 13 times and been involved in the final a record 21 times. The Gunners have also won their last six FA Cup Finals.

For Chelsea this will be their 14th FA Cup Final appearance with the Blues winning seven of their last nine finals. However both of those defeats were against Arsenal.

Back in 2017 Per Mertesacker captained Arsenal to victory over Chelsea by 2-1 at Wembley with Aaron Ramsey hitting a 79th minute winner to give manager Arsene Wenger his final piece of major silverware.

Thanks to second half goals from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg it was Arsenal who were crowned FA Cup winners in 2002, with the final being held in Cardiff.

Saturday’s FA Cup Final will see a contest with two up and coming managers at the helm. Gunners boss Mikel Arteta who is 38 and Frank Lampard 42, are the two youngest Premier League bosses and already have impressed the football world by their courageous tactics and game management.

Under Arteta, Arsenal’s two outstanding performances recently have been victories inside four days against Premier League champions Liverpool and an FA Cup semi-final triumph over Manchester City.

The Gunners have beaten Leeds, Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Sheffield United and Man City on their way to Wembley and only conceding two goals in the process.

Chelsea have had to overcome Nottingham Forest, Hull City, Liverpool, Leicester City and Manchester United in the semi-final to book their place at Wembley. Like Arsenal they have only let in two goals on their way to the final.

Both Arteta and Lampard have not been afraid to make ruthless decisions. Arteta’s refusal to pander to the whims of Mesut Ozil saw him excluded from the nine substitutes for the semi-final.

Lampard recently showed his merciless edge by dropping £71 million goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga for Chelsea’s crucial final game of the season against Wolves.

So the stage is set for yet another London Derby, but for this one a trophy is at stake. It will be interesting to see how both sets of players perform in the extensive heat promised on Saturday and how they will adjust in the surreal surroundings of having no fans present in the Stadium.

Some players will flourish on this, others will freeze on the big stage, whatever happens it should be another classic final with Arsenal set to start of favourites. Whichever captain will get the privilege of holding the FA Cup after the game will be in the strange position of displaying it to no fans inside.

I wonder what type of celebrations we will see come Saturday evening? One thing is for sure the 139th FA Cup Final will be remembered for the final will little noise.

Elite in Premiership could miss out in next seasons Football League Cup

After a delay of three months with the return of the Premiership, there are already people in the football world looking ahead to next season, as and when it will eventually commence.

One hotly debated topic on the agenda will certainly be what is eventually going to happen to cup competitions. With this in mind the League Cup- currently known as the Carabao Cup- could well see the top seven sides from the Premiership missing from the competition.

Due to what is anticipated to be a fixture pile up next season for teams involved in European competitions this could well see the League Cup played without the cream of the Premiership.

It was confirmed only this week that the Champions League and Europa League schedules will run into August, meaning involved teams won’t be able to play League Cup ties as things stand, with the EFL considering a change for the competition.

There are a couple of other possibilities that potentially could be considered. The first would be to do away with the competition for a season.  That would, however, cause financial damage to lower league sides who are already facing a very uncertain future.

Alternately, the EFL could decided on allowing the Premiership sides a chance to play their youth sides- something that Liverpool did against Everton earlier on this season, which didn’t go down well.  Surely, however, that idea would devalue a competition which has lost its appeal for the past few seasons.

In my opinion, I certainly like the idea of the top seven Premiership sides not playing in the Cup next season. This would at least give some club outside Manchester a better chance of cup glory. In six of the last seven seasons the Cup has been won by either City or United, so for footballs sake it would be wonderful to see somebody else raise the cup at Wembley.

In fairness to most of the Premiership sides, well certainly the top eight and sides fighting off relegation-the league cup has always been a distraction for them.

Some people may say that if it does come down to the top seven in the Premiership not being invited to feature in next seasons competition, the League Cup won’t be the same. As I mentioned earlier, this would give a glorious chance to either a lower ranked Premiership side, a club from the Championship or for a wonderful story. How about a lower league club getting to Wembley and lifting the trophy? The money earned from this experience would benefit these clubs more than the Premiership boys and would be something in the history of the club that they will be remembered by, and stay with them for many years.

Manchester United warn of long-term economic effect of COVID-19 virus

On this day 21 years ago, ITV’s Clive Tyldesley uttered those famous words in Barcelona:

“Sheringham and Solskjaer has won it!  Manchester United have won it.”

Subsequently, The Red Devils lifted the Champions League for only the second time in their history, in so doing they completed the famous 1999 treble consisting of the Premier League, FA Cup and the prestigious European Trophy.

Fast-forward to the here and now, Manchester United has forecast that annual revenue would fall for the first time in five years after its failure to qualify for this season’s UEFA Champions League.

Manchester United say the coronavirus pandemic has cost them an initial £28 million – and expect the final figure to be far higher.

Manchester United’s Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said:

“Our third-quarter results reflect a partial impact that the pandemic has had on the club but the greater impact will be in the current quarter and likely beyond.

“These are unprecedented times and we must recognise that this crisis will not disappear overnight.

“However, our club is built on a solid foundation. We remain firmly optimistic about the long-term prospects for the club once we have worked our way through what is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary and testing periods in the 142-year history of Manchester United.”

United, however, do have history of coming back from adverse situations, most notably the Munich air disaster that affected Sir Matt Busby’s ‘Busby Babes’ in 1958.

One of the clubs best ever a player at the time, Duncan Edwards, was among them.  That year they would go onto to some how make the FA Cup final and just 12 years after that fatal incident they would lift their first European Trophy in 1968.

Chief financial officer, Cliff Baty, estimated the lockdown cost United £23 million in the final two weeks of March because of the postponement of one Premier League away fixture (worth four million pounds at Tottenham Hotspur), a home Europa League last-16 tie against LASK (Linzer Athletik- Sport- Klub), the FA Cup quarter-final at Norwich City, broadcasting reductions plus the closure of the Old Trafford megastore, Red Cafe and United Events.

The managing director, Richard Arnold, said:

“The economic ramifications from this global pandemic will continue to resonate for years to come, but we remain optimistic about the long-term outlook for the sponsorship business and our ability to remain a leader within the market.”

United are also waiting on the Football Association to make some crucial decisions that could have a big impact on their interim future.

The Football Association will remain determined to get the FA Cup, which is up to the quarter-final stage, played.

Wembley Way is quiet due to the current crisis. If the FA Cup does get back up and running this season then Wembley Way will still be silent when the final is played. The idea of football returning without fans and an empty stadium will be a quite a different feeling for the players.

That might be as good a reason as any to cancel it. Will winning the FA Cup when no fans are there to celebrate really feel like winning the FA Cup at all?

For now United’s teams are waiting to hear how their chances of lifting a trophy this season are going to be affected by football’s new terrain.

Article written by Subeer Suri