1971: Born is the King of Highbury
Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool (AET)
Charlie George is still revered in N5. The Islington-born local lad came good in the game that clinched the Double, five days after Arsenal had won the league at White Hart Lane.
His iconic celebration in that yellow shirt after thumping a terrific shot past the startled Ray Clemence will always be remembered by Gooners everywhere – as will his unkempt long hair, and the flares worn by the red half of north London at Wembley that day.
Who said the 70s were a decade fashion forgot?
1979: The five-minute final
Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United
The yellow shirt is deemed to be a lucky one by hordes of Gooners who remember this game as the five-minute final. First-half goals from Brian Talbot and Frank Stapleton had Arsenal coasting at 2-0 against Dave Sexton’s Manchester United.
However, with four minutes to go Gordon McQueen netted – and two minutes later Sammy McIlroy equalised. The yellows looked dead on their feet and might have succumbed to a resurgent United in extra-time had not the legendary Liam ‘Chippy’ Brady intervened. The much-loved Irishman took the ball down the left flank before nudging it to Graham Rix, who sent a long first-time cross over Gary Bailey for Alan Sunderland to slide in at the far post.
1998: Memories are made of this
Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United
A heatwave. Marc Overmars racing through the Georgie defence to make it 1-0. An equally jet-heeled Nicolas Anelka making the game safe at 2-0. Toon fans singing their hearts out all afternoon. A visibly moved Arsene Wenger shaking Tony Adams' hand at the end in a sign of utter mutual respect. Arsenal clinching the Double. If Carlsberg did cup finals, this was one for the Gooners.
If the final was something of a walk in the park, Arsenal’s progress to it had been anything but. Three times they were held at home – by Port Vale, Crystal Palace and West Ham – but won the away replay, before squeaking past Wolves in the semi thanks to Christopher Wreh. The Liberian started the final but his career soon went downhill: squeezed out by new rivals like Thierry Henry and Davor Suker, he subsequently turned out for Al-Hilal, Bournemouth, St Mirren, Persepolis, Bishop’s Stortford, Buckingham Town and Perseman Manokwari.
2005: Nil-nil to the Arsenal
Arsenal 0-0 Manchester United (Arsenal win 5-4 on penalties)
'Boring, boring Arsenal' never did Don Howe or George Graham any harm, and this may have been the most defence-minded display of Arsene Wenger’s career. Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United had beaten Arsenal home and away in the league, and in the sides’ previous nine meetings the Gunners had only won once (a Community Shield). Clearly, something had to change.
Even though United had problems in defence – full-backs Gabriel Heinze and Gary Neville were both injured – Wenger chose a 4-5-1, with Dennis Bergkamp the not particularly advanced 1. Shortly after the hour, even he was replaced by winger Freddie Ljungberg, and when Jose Antonio Reyes was sent off Arsenal pretty much parked up and played for penalties.
Over the two hours, Arsenal had one shot on target – in the 97th minute – but all five of their shootout penalties hit the mark, with Jens Lehmann’s save from Paul Scholes meaning Patrick Vieira’s last kick in an Arsenal shirt won the cup.
With this level of pragmatism added to their undoubted artistry, surely the Gunners would be entering a new era of trophy-strewn success? Wouldn't they...?
2014: Hull’s Tigers tamed
Arsenal 3-2 Hull City (AET)
Pre-match expectations that the Gunners would easily end their trophy drought were blown away when Hull went 2-0 up in eight minutes through centre-backs James Chester and Curtis Davies – the latter having been turned down for a boyhood Arsenal trial. It could have been three moments later had Kieran Gibbs not cleared off the line from the Tigers’ third centre-back Alex Bruce.
The Gunners quickly regrouped and halved the deficit with a 25-yard Santi Cazorla free-kick. Nearly an hour later, Laurent Koscielny bundled home an equaliser, but Hull remained tricky to get through. In extra-time Wenger shuffled his creatives, replacing Cazorla and Mesut Ozil with Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere – and three minutes later Giroud’s backheel allowed Aaron Ramsey to end the long-commented on nine-year wait for silverware.
Layth's article first appeared in Four-Four-Two
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