So it will be a trip south rather than east in the fourth round of the FA Cup. It took Southampton until the second of four added minutes to see off Championship team Norwich City in front of 13517 lonely souls. It is an opportunity to gain revenge for our defeat in the EFL Cup in November.
It’s true that you have to go back to February 2004, the invincible season, for our last win at Southampton with two unanswered Thierry Henry goals. Our five visits since then have seen us get three draws and lose twice. It’s an unusual bogey venue for sure. Our last FA Cup meeting with them saw us lift the trophy in 2003 courtesy of a Robert Pires strike at Cardiff.
That day lives in the memory. I drove down the M4 with a mate who had a ticket although I was ticketless. We arrived in time for a real breakfast before the pubs at either end of the stadium opened. My hand made sign requesting a solitary spare drew no offers. As John joined the rest of the West Country Gooners in the pub I stood outside with my sign, feeling like I was a living advertising hoarding. Respect to those who are forced to do that to earn a few quid.
Around an hour before kick-off I finally had a bite. A reasonably dressed man with a Geordie accent said he had one for £350 and if I gave him the stub back afterwards he would refund £50 of that. I had bargained on something for around half that but in that situation I decided to accept. When I returned the stub after the match he told me he was on a County FA and didn’t want the stub to be sent back to the Football Association. The fans game, eh?
Of course the ensuing match was a pretty dull affair as Finals go, but Robert’s goal from a deflected Freddie Ljungberg effort ensured our triumph and the smattering of Gooners in an otherwise neutral area of the stadium went as crazy as ever. Our route to that Final included wins at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge. Twelve months later we were invincible. Oh for such a run this season.
If you have at least 15 away credits you can apply for tickets in the morning, Thursday 19th January 2017 at 11am. Cost will be just £15 plus concessions. Our allocation will be 4,612 tickets. Good luck if you have fewer credits than that. Well done Southampton at that price. It would suggest they will not be going with a full strength first team.
But will we?
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