Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1: F.A.Cup debut to remember for Jos!

Last updated : 15 February 2004 By Brian Dawes

Vieira head to head with Mutu
A late declaration of fitness for Campbell who’d been doubtful was good news, especially considering how well he and Kolo played at the back this afternoon. Ranieri probably put out his first eleven, but who really knows? Probably not even Ranieri.

Rain threatened to douse the hangovers just before kick off but this massive Cup tie got under way with Mutu taking all of four seconds to rap Vieira’s ankles for the first foul of the day. I thought Mutu was a classy player when I’ve seen him on the box, but on today’s evidence he trying his best to take JKH’s nastiest player in a blue shirt crown. The game started with each team defending their own ‘end’ as Chelsea had the whole of the Clock End in which to serenade us with their limited repertoire of predictable chants. Meanwhile in the North Stand the chanting competition was between the North Bankers and the Clock Enders. It was a noisy Stadium from start to finish. An early appeal by Reyes for handball, on the edge of their box, was dismissed by referee Paul Durkin.

Campbell miss-timed his first tackle when he hammered high into Gronkjaer following a typical dive by Hasselbaink that upset Pat. Bridge took an early dive wide left to test the water and Durkin was biting, from the free kick Gallas headed over from the near post. Bergkamp won us a corner but it was hit in far too deep. The tension was intense in the stands, on the pitch things developed into a rip-roaring confrontation. Mutu and JFH both had a go at winding Kolo up, JFH with a little slap obviously intending to get a response. Pat slid in from behind to win the ball but Parker, like most players in blue shirts, fond great difficulty in remaining upright when he could go down. A fast break by Arsenal saw Gilberto one on one with Cudicini but a saving tackle from behind, just as good as Pat’s on Parker, nabbed the ball with just the keeper to beat.

The game was open and end to end. Melchiot was booked for a foul on Parlour that seemed no worse than many that went unpunished. Reyes had a shot from range that went wide. Dennis found Jose in a move that won us a corner. ’49 years you’re having a laugh’. Gilberto tried to make up for his earlier lost opportunity, but his shot was wild. Pat was up for this, seriously up for this, and a storming run down the right when he took on five players had the crowd on their feet. He was immense today. Pires put in a shot that was held low. Cole was storming forward and worked his way into their box on more than one occasion as Arsenal started to get a grip. Dennis was upended by Makelele. Reyes, Silva, Pires and Dennis combined in a terrific move; the plan seemed to be for us to quick pass our way through down the wings, whereas Chelsea more often than not wanted to go down the middle.

Gronkjaer attempted to chip Lehmann, who was well off his line, but his poor effort became something of a pass to the right. An evil tackle on Cole by the Mutant got a yellow card. Cole was lucky to walk away and the Mutant was lucky not to see red. Arsenal had some fine play at this stage. Makelele blocked a quick free kick to earn his yellow card. A brilliant free kick by Rob from wide left almost saw Pat turn it in with his left peg, it was a chance he seemed annoyed to have missed. Lampard missed a good chance after JFH had broken away. An even easier chance was missed when Bridge put a deep cross over Ashley which Hasselbaink headed off target, a bad miss from a very good chance.

Gilberto got a yellow card for what was either kicking the ball away, or disagreeing with Durkin. Easily done during this phase, some of Durkin’s decisions were absolute crap, as when JFH clattered Jens but won a corner. A cross by Lampard was headed home by Gronkjaer, but the offside flag had been raised before he even made contact, it was good to laugh at The Chelski fans celebrations though! ‘Feck off till you win the League’ and ’49 years’ being popular ditties around this time, and throughout. Gronkjaer fell over for another soft free kick, the Mutant dived again but Jens gathered. Lehmann then made a pig’s ear of a clearance, which he sliced, low and short to a blue shirt. The Mutant was put in one on one versus Kolo and made space in which to unleash a terrific shot past Lehmann. 0-1 Chelski, a stupid goal to give away, especially when we’d started to play a bit. And annoying for us to have Lampard and Mutu giving it large to the Gooners, a wind up not spotted by the gherkin.

Reyes jumps for joy - and so do 30,000 fans!
Dennis hit a low one that was saved, he then chased a good through ball but Cudicini was out fast to take it. Pat worked in Ash for another corner but our cutting edge seemed missing. Durkin meanwhile was in fast flash mode and carded Vieira for contesting yet another soft free kick. Two minutes added time ended the half, which Chelsea had probably edged. Optimism wasn’t abundant in the West Lower at the break.

Pat led the team out and encouraged the crowd to up the volume, he’s becoming a great captain. Gronkjaer immediately hauled down Ray. Parker had a low cross that beat everyone and went for a corner with the slightest of deflections. Terry stormed out and collided in a huge tackle with Ray, foot to foot. Parlour was in obvious pain and didn’t last much longer. Ray signalled the bench, Edu replaced him and Silva moved right. Edu made an immediate impact sparking some moves as soon as he arrived. Another free kick against Bergkamp in their box. Lauren was caught out of position but we rode their counter attack. Arsenal pressure won a corner but the two teams both had defences that won the aerial battle today.

What happened next was one of those classic Highbury moments, that will last forever and a day in the memory. Edu on the right played a ball inside to Jose, who had space, loads of space. So he shoved the ball forward, then a bit further and then showed why Arsene paid all that money. It was a screaming left foot shot that arrowed into the top corner. Goal all the way, a perfect strike, absolutely ideal headline material for anyone making an F A Cup debut. ‘Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose’ as our latest hero disappeared under a pile of bodies and the Gooners went ballistic. This was the defining moment of the game, it drew the scores level but there are some goals that win the game no matter at which point they were scored. This goal changed everything.

Chelski were not finished but they got a lot more niggly as we pressed forward. Gallas tripped Cole on the edge of the box and we peppered the goal from the free kick with one shot blocked after another. Close but no cigar. Hasselbaink had had enough of Mutu’s bid for the Mr Nasty crown and took out Lauren for a yellow card. Neil Sullivan who was greeted with the obvious chant replaced Cudicini, who’d probably twisted his neck inside out as Reyes shot went past him.

Sullivan’s was soon picking the ball out of the net. Vieira stroked a neat angled ball through to Reyes who in turn slipped the ball past Sullivan who seemed to get a touch on it’s way into the net. Jose Antonio had arrived. Big time. 2-1 Arsenal. ‘You’re not singing any more’.

We continued to press. A break with four players saw Edu, Dennis, Reyes and Pires on the charge. Pires’ shot seemed to be deflected but despite the appeals of the North Bank no corner was given. Mutu was replaced by Gudjohnsen. ‘One team in London, there’s only one team in London’. A brilliant take by Lehmann as Sol knocked him over in the rush. Another high take by Lehmann as the match was far from done and dusted. ‘Lampard, Lampard what’s the score?’

Gilberto in the thick of things with Terry
Gronkjaer was replaced by the much easier to spell Joe Cole who immediately fouled Silva. Chelsea broke but Lauren popped up to clear. Terry made an overhead booted clearance and although the match was still wide open, Chelski didn’t play much more quality football. Parker, the newest of the numerous new boys, had a shot across goal but Jens took it easily. Pat almost put Dennis in, Cole (the little one who impersonates a goldfish) had a tame header from a Parker cross. Campbell put in a great tackle on Makelele. Reyes was replaced by Clichy and went off to a standing ovation, which he clearly enjoyed, so much for his settling in period!

We remained mostly in control, Clichy had loads of space and made the most of it, showing good control and loads of pace. Pat went down injured as a Chelski free kick on their left was missed by one and all with five minutes remaining. Clichy broke forward again, Pires had a shot blocked and Sullivan was having a mare with his kicking that gave us even more possession as he sliced into touch. Pires broke from half way but looked pretty cream-crackered. Four minutes of added time, I suspect for Chelski’s earlier time-wasting in this half, ended with Parker hoofing into the clock End to a derisive ‘What waste of money’. I bet the blues are really looking forward to playing us again, probably with Henry in attendance. This was a blinding result, and our incredible Cup run continues. Anyone who’s below us in the league will suit me for the next round!

One-nil down, two-one up, we knocked Chelsea out the Cup. Again! Again, and again, and again, and again, and again, one more time, yet again, once more and yet again. Since January 1947, when they beat us in the third round, we’ve done them in two Semi-finals, the 6th. round, the 5th. Round, a Final, the 6th. Round and now the 5th. yet again. They managed a few draws in that time but it has only ever postponed the inevitable defeat at the hands of their vastly superior London rivals, the mighty Arsenal.