Back to the domestic cup runs, the FA Cup 3rd Round match against Derby
County would be useful to gauge their strength before we faced them in the
League Cup Semi Finals. Ex-Gunner youth Liam Chilvers was in the side facing
us and he squared up with a few known faces in the Arsenal squad. Unfortunately,
the Derby defence was torned apart by the rampant Arsenal Youth who chalked
up a 4-0 win. Marcus Benson scoring a hat-trick and Junior Elliot scored
the other. The League Cup Semi Final match was another matter altogether.
John O'Shea scored his first senior Arsenal goal before Noble, Cassano and
Calaio added towards the tally. But Derby wasn't going to lie down for us.
They scored twice in the last 10 minutes despite being down to 10 men. The
second leg ended with 20 minutes of the match being played. Elliott scored
the goal before Ian Reed added another to seal our place in the Final against
Manchester United who beat West Ham 5-2 on aggregate.
Arsenal took on Aston Villa in the FA Cup 4th Round match. Despite having
most of the possession, we could only score a solitary goal through Pennant.
The 5th Round match against Middlesbrough wasn't easy either. Derek Boateg
opened the scoring first and it took us until the 75th minute to score.
But Saviola didn't let us down, he scored twice within that minute, giving
us a 2-1 win over Middlesbrough.
The clash between us and this season's title challengers Southampton took
place at St Mary's Stadium, home to the Saints. Clint Hill put us ahead
after only 2 minutes. But Benayoun equalised for Southampton 5 minutes later
after some great footwork by ex-Gunner Lauren. Another ex-Gunner Emmanuel
Petit nearly had the ball in the net but was denied by Frey. On the half-hour,
Cassano intercepted a weak pass by Lauren and unleashed a shot at goal.
GOAL! Southampton seemed eager to preserve the score line at the start of
the second half as they defended stoutly against our relentless attacks.
Our final breakthrough came in the 59th minute when Greening laid on an
inch-perfect pass for Joe Cole. GOAL! The match ended 3-1 in our favour.
The resumption of the Champions League saw us taking on Huddersfield twice.
Both matches ended in victories, 3-0 at home and 3-1 away. Together with
wins over AC Milan (2-1) and Celtic (2-0), we've qualified for the Quarterfinals.
The last 8 teams are Ajax Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Feyenoord,
AC Milan, Porto, Spartak Moscow and Arsenal. We were to face Feyenoord again
to qualify for the Semi Finals. It would be easy, as we had beaten them
before in the Phase 1 group matches.
Having qualified for the Quarterfinals, we were up against 2 teams whom
we managed to beat significantly earlier this season - Liverpool and Chelsea.
Liverpool suffered the same fate as we won 4-2 despite having Patrick Vieira
receiving his marching orders in the 79th minute. We were unlucky to draw
with Chelsea when they themselves were down to 10 men after Gareth Southgate
was sent off. But a late goal by Chris O'Brien gave them a 1-1 draw. With
10 games to go, we are 15 points clear of Southampton. March finally saw
Leeds United allowing Sean Allaway to join us for £3.5 million. The
agreement came after Allaway rejected their contract offer saying he wants
to move to Arsenal. The official press statement showed that Allaway had
made up his mind when Arsenal first contacted him back in August but he
was denied the chance to speak to us. By doing so, Leeds had denied him
a chance to play for Arsenal this season.
The FA Cup Quarter Final tie was such that we were to play Southampton,
the current league runners-up. The match was an even affair. But Southampton
took the lead in the 53rd minute through Marian Pahars. Before we know it,
he has doubled his tally in the 60th minute. Lucky for us, Henry managed
to score a minute later, giving us some breathing space for the next half
an hour. Southampton was stubborn and their defenders thwarted a couple
of our chances. 6 minutes before the end, we were awarded a free kick right
outside the area. Saviola stepped up and send it over the wall. GOAL! The
equaliser! The match ended 2-2 and we had a replay. The replay was even
tougher, both sides didn't give each other room to move and the 90 minutes
ended in a 0-0 stalemate. We should have kicked ourselves when Calaio missed
a penalty in the 36th minute. So into extra time we go. Southampton's brave
defence finally caved in and we cruised to a comprehensive victory after
210 minutes of play with goals by Cassano, Barrett and Ljungberg. 3-0 to
Next up, the League Cup Final against Manchester United whom we whitewashed
5-0 and 4-0 earlier. Nearly 90,000 fans from both sides stood at Wembley
for the kickoff. It took us one minute to stamp our authority when Saviola
scored after some nifty footwork from him. GOAL! In the 22nd minute, a great
team move started by Henry ended with him taking the ball into the area.
He shoots. GOAL! Just before half time, Upson carried the ball elegantly
before crossing it into the path of Henry. GOAL! Henry's 25th goal of the
season! The Cup was within our grasp! The second half started and tempers
began to flare from both sides. It boiled over when Joe Cole was tackled
inside the box by Michael Rose. Pushing came to shoving between Arsenal
and United players nearby. The referee showed a few yellow cards before
awarding the penalty to Arsenal. Henry stood up. GOAL! His hat-trick complete
and Arsenal has added another trophy to their bulging cabinet. Tonton Zola
Mokouko scored a consolation goal for Manchester United in the 79th minute.
But it was too little too late. Arsenal had won the League Cup with a 4-1
win over Manchester United.[ScreenShot]
Our two-leg Quarter Final tie against Feyenoord nearly saw us being kicked
out of the competition. I underestimated their team and we came back from
Rotterdam with a 1-1 draw. Ruslan Valeev scoring in the final minute. But
for the second leg at Ashburton Grove, I had the team ready. 90 minutes
later, Arsenal came out tops with a 5-0 win. Saviola and Joe Cole had a
brace while Cassano added the fifth.
That set us up for a Semi Final match
against Spartak Moscow. Spartak Moscow was easier and we won both legs 2-1
and 3-1 respectively to qualify for the European Cup Final against Ajax
Amsterdam who saw off the challengers from Germany, Bayern Munich, 8-2 on
Back in the league, we had just beaten Liverpool 2-1 in the FA Cup Semi
Final match. With our two prolific strikers Henry and Saviola getting one
each. Gerard scored Liverpool's solitary goal. The Championship decider
was against Watford with 6 games left. We were 10 points clear of Southampton
with a game in hand over Southampton. Within 10 minutes, we had the title
firmly in our grasp for the 5th time in a row. We had just scored 2 goals
courtesy of Noble and Cassano. Both of them would later scored another goal
each to give us a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Watford. The result condemned
Watford to a season in the Nationwide First Division next season.