It was a great year for Arsenal in the FA cup on the road to Wembley. The fact that it all culminated in the Gunners picking up our first major trophy for nine long years obviously helped, but there were some great moments along the way as well.
One of the abiding images was that of the Arsenal and England international star Theo Walcott being carried away from the action on a stretcher in the third round tie. The look of mischievous glee on the flying forward´s face as he raised his hands to show the 2’0 scoreline to the spuds fans that had started throwing things at him was pure class.
There is no animosity, at least from Walcott´s side, although he does admit in an Evening Standard report that he loves nothing more than getting one over the old enemy fr4om White Hart Lane. That FA cup game just over a year ago was at the Emirates, so Theo knows that he will get a lot more stick from their fans today, assuming he plays. Walcott does not mind at all though and accepts it all as part of football and will use it to ´spur´ him on to greater things on the pitch.
He said, “That is in the past. Me and the Tottenham fans have a good relationship in terms of the banter side of things. That’s what comes with football. This is a massive game and it is all about the bragging rights.
“Things like that have happened in the past and it won’t be forgotten about, I’m sure, but it is one thing I’ve moved on from. Every player will get stick I am sure but it is about just trying to go out there and perform.
“Any criticism won’t affect me at all. It is enjoyable — it’s a bit different and it is always a great atmosphere at White Hart Lane. It is probably the fixture I always look forward to playing in the most, to be fair. It is one of the biggest games for both sets of fans and this year it is going to be tight.
“I think it is an even bigger game this year than ever. Tottenham are doing very well, getting those last-minute goals which shows a knack of getting important three points. It will be two very strong teams that are very high on confidence so for the neutral it will be a very interesting game.
“It is going to be difficult to call but if we play the way we did against Villa, hopefully, it will be ours. A draw wouldn’t be a terrible result but we always play to win.
“They have been very comfortable on the ball, passing it well and pressing it high up. He [manager Mauricio Pochettino] likes his sides to be right on you from the start and they are difficult to break down. They have got a fantastic goalkeeper in Hugo Lloris, who is very sharp off his line. He is making some fantastic saves.
“And, of course, they have [Christian] Eriksen, who has been one of the most underrated players in the Premier League this season. He has stood out but we have Santi [Cazorla], who is also in great form and not always getting recognition, either.”
Yes and we also have a certain striker called Theo Walcott, whom is too modest to talk about his own influence. But as much as the Tottenham fans might be looking forward to slating him, their players will not relish facing him.