All Guns Blazing: FA Cup needs to be number one on list of priorities now

Santi Cazorla, Arsenal (left)and Steven Gerrard, Liverpool (right) battle for the ball.

Santi Cazorla, Arsenal (left)and Steven Gerrard, Liverpool (right) battle for the ball. - Credit: EMPICS Sport

Football journalist and Arsenal fan Layth Yousif looks at Arsenal’s past FA cup clashes with Liverpool and their increasingly heavy schedule

The less said about the league game at Anfield the better. Fortunately, we have the chance of revenge against Brendan Rodgers’ men a mere eight days later, albeit in a different competition.

Wherever we finish in the table, if someone had offered us a chance of FA Cup glory after the first game of the season against Aston Villa I doubt many would have turned it down.

Therefore, this weekend’s Arsenal v Liverpool FA Cup clash takes on even more significance – not to mention the memories it evokes.

I wasn’t born in 1971. Yet I still treat footage of Charlie George’s FA Cup Final winner against the Reds with as much reverence as if I had been there in person. His iconic goal and even more iconic celebration will be part of Arsenal folklore for as long as the club exists.

For the 1980 four-game FA Cup semi-final marathon, I listened on a tinny radio as the legendary Bryon Butler described tense stalemates, before Brian ‘Noddy’ Talbot broke Liverpool hearts with a goal at Highfield Road in the third replay.

Incidentally, I interviewed Kenny Sansom at a rocking Piebury Corner the other week, and he told me the hardest trainer during his time at the club was Talbot, so perhaps it wasn’t a surprise that good old ‘Noddy’ hit the winner during that gruelling series.

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Fast forward 21 years to a gloriously sunny day: ‘When spring turns to summer/The first week in May’ for the 2001 FA Cup Final in Cardiff. Most Liverpool fans would admit they were lucky as two late Michael Owen goals left us so devastated it forced many Gooners to drown their sorrows in the raucous Cardiff nightlife afterwards.

For the next instalment in this long-running fixture, if we can beat a buoyant Liverpool – a big ‘if’, admittedly, – with City meeting Chelsea, our hopes of FA Cup silverware will rise.

Of course we’d all love to win the Champions League and Premier League, but we have to be realistic. With Spurs and Chelsea away, and Manchester City at home next month, can we say with confidence we can win the league?

Visiting next week are Pep Guardiola’s sublime Bayern Munich – looking even more impressive than their treble-winning Jupp Heynckes-led side of 2013. I’m not sure I’d bet on us knocking them out.

It’s a question of priorities. Mine is the FA Cup – what’s yours?

Follow me @laythy29