Arsenal in the Cups 2001/2
By Tony Attwood
After all the furore about the reserves played in the league cup last season Mr Wenger put out a more experienced side for the first league cup game of 2001/2. It was against Man U, just at the moment when both teams had suffered defeats in the league.
We included Wiltord, van Bronckhorst, Parlour and Kanu and the press made much of that, ignoring the fact that our central defence was Tavlaridis and Stepanovs, with young Pennant playing in midfield.
Ferguson only played one player – Dwight Yorke – who had featured in the previous weekend’s 3-1 defeat at Liverpool and he was playing in central midfield role. And did the press howl at Man U for disrespecting the cup? I leave you to imagine the answer.
We won 4-0 and finally went out in the fifth round to Blackburn. We did however in between get a peek of Juan and Inamoto playing in the 2-0 win against Grimsby.
In the Champs League we were again playing through two sets of group stages, and got through phase one with three wins and three defeats. In phase two it was two wins, a draw and three defeats including the last two games against Deportivo and Juve. In the complete run we didn’t manage to get a double over anyone.
And so the FA Cup. Through much of it we played the regular first team, injuries allowing. We by and large sauntered through (well ok I exaggerate but I don’t recall being worried at any time) and beat Chelsea in the final. You might remember that. Parlour scored.
Remember that midfield: Ljunberg, Vieira, Parlour, Pires. It was stunning. The classic midfield of memory includes Petit, but the revitalisation of Ray Parlour under Wenger was extraordinary. Mr Wenger always said he could never understand a word Parlour said, so he had to hope that Parlour understood him. For that cup final he did.
We won the double. In fact we won the league before the cup because the authorities had started to muck around with the time table, but I don’t think anyone cared.
Two doubles for Mr Wenger, and the under 12 supporters club who had been so vociferous about our failings after the 6-1 defeat to Man U the previous season were shut up once and for all. People talked of the greatest Arsenal team – greater than the 1930s. But they really had no idea just how far this team could go.
Unbeaten away from home for a whole season? That was just the start!