15 February 2015

85 years to the day after Arsenal beat Middlesbrough on the way to their first trophy, two goals from Giroud saw Arsenal sail through the fifth round of the FA Cup against Middlesbrough, and hopes began to develop that the club might retain the FA Cup, something it had only ever done once before.  The match came in a run of eight wins and just one defeat in nine consecutive games.

The starting line for the match against Middlesbrough (who surprised City in the round before) was Szczesny, Chambers, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini, Cazorla, Özil, Alexis, Giroud and Welbeck.  On the bench we had Akpom, Coquelin, Rosicky, Walcott, Martinez, Mertesacker and Monreal.

This meant that Gabriel made his debut in the first team for Arsenal playing in the Mertesacker position. Santi Cazorla was the captain for this match.

In the next round of the cup Arsenal beat Manchester United 2-1 away, then it was 2-1 against Reading in the semi-final and the most glorious final of 4-0 against Aston Villa.

The 1930 run was quite different for it came at a time when Herbert Chapman was struggling as a manager.  He had been at the club since 1925, and although he had had two near misses for a trophy (runners up in the League, and beaten finalists in the cup) he had not actually won anything.  In the board room battles of 1927 Chapman had sided with the rebels led by the Hill-Wood clan, and they had indeed won, so they had shown their faith in Chapman as manager, refusing to accept his subsequent resignation.   Mind you, by this time the club was debt free and making a significant profit so the board were willing to fund Chapman’s extensive transfer plans.

But even so, at the time the 1930 run to the final began Arsenal were 16th in the League, just three points above relegation, having won two and drawn one of their last ten games.

But in the Cup everything was different as Arsenal beat Chelsea, Birmingham, Middlesbrough, West Ham, Hull in the semi-finals (after a replay) and then Chapman’s old club Huddersfield in the final as the managers famously led their teams out at a final for the first time ever.