Television schedules during the 1992/93 season must have looked a little samey. "This week: Arsenal vs Sheffield Wednesday, live from Wembley! Next week: Arsenal vs Sheffield Wednesday, live from Wembley! We’ve got a cracker the week after that: Arsenal vs Sheffield Wednesday, live from Wembley!" Three times the sides met in two cup finals - the only season in history when the FA Cup and League Cup finals were contested by the same clubs.
Then and now
The matches threw up rather unlikely heroes; Andy Linighan gave Arsenal victory in the 239th minute of an FA Cup final that required a replay and two helpings of extra-time.
In the League Cup, the game was settled in 90 minutes thanks to a winner from Steve Morrow – not that it was remembered for that. Instead the incident that took the headlines occurred during the post-match celebrations – Morrow’s fall from the shoulders of Tony Adams, and his swift transfer to hospital.
Chris Waddle was in the Sheffield Wednesday side beaten 2-1 that day. “Steve Morrow breaking his arm was the talking point of the game, so that’s how good it was,” the former England winger tells FourFourTwo. “It wasn’t a classic match. It was a game where they stopped us playing and we stopped them playing. It was a slog and was just down to whoever got the chance to nick it. They did, and fair play to them.
“It’s a very different type of Arsenal now to the side they had then. George Graham had them organised, strong and powerful. The current Arsenal team is obviously a lot of finesse, lovely on the eye, pass, pass, pass with people like Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla. The Sheffield Wednesday side I played for in 1993 would have enjoyed playing against the Arsenal side they have at the minute.”
Wednesday happy days
The two clubs meet again at Hillsborough on Tuesday night in the fourth round of this season’s Capital One Cup, with Sheffield Wednesday now a play-off chasing outfit in the Championship. The Owls won at Newcastle United in the third round, but Waddle admits his old club will have their work cut out to pull off another upset against the Gunners.
“It’s obviously a tall order,” he says. “Wednesday are going to have to play to their abilities and have a game plan that frustrates Arsenal, and then hit them with a counter-attack or a set-piece, because they’re a big side.
“Carlos Carvalhal is a thinking coach. He looks at what the opposition have and what they don’t have, then tries to set a team out that he thinks will cause problems. They’re not going to out-football Arsenal. If they make the game open it will suit Arsenal more than it suits them. Defensively Wednesday are quite solid, quite well organised. There will be more than 30,000 there so you just hope they don’t freeze.
“They’re not far off being a team that could make the play-offs and get out of the Championship, they just probably need a goalscoring No.9. If they had that ahead of Fernando Forestieri, you could see them having seven or 10 points more than what they’ve already got.”
Gunning for it
Waddle believes Arsenal’s FA Cup triumphs in each of the past two seasons have helped to strengthen their challenge for the Premier League title this time around, and thinks they will take the Capital One Cup seriously having beaten arch rivals Tottenham in the last round at White Hart Lane. Chelsea were able to win both the Capital One Cup and the Premier League last season.
“This is the first time for a long time that people are saying Arsenal could win the Premier League this year,” Waddle says. “Over the years they’ve huffed and puffed and people have said they have too many weaknesses. But they seem to have that little bit about them now, they’re thinking: ‘We’re not going to be third or fourth, we actually think we can win it this season’. You can see that inner belief when they’re playing and in interviews. What winning the FA Cup twice is basically saying is that they know how to get over the line now. It shows you have that winning mentality. To win it back-to-back is not easy. They’ve looked the part this season, although obviously a key to any club is injuries.
“Arsene Wenger might leave certain players out at Hillsborough, but the players coming in will all be quality players – whether they're Kieran Gibbs, Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain now in for Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud. It’s not like he’s going to send the under-18s.
“Arsenal have sold out the away allocation so he doesn’t want to send a team up there to get thumped by Sheffield Wednesday, because the fans wouldn’t have it. If you win the Capital One Cup it’s a trophy in the cabinet. It gives you confidence for the rest of the season.”
Chris Waddle was speaking on behalf of Capital One – the credit card in your corner. Click here for more info.
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