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Cup Upsets Involving Arsenal (Part One)

It is a sad fact of life for followers of any big club that, every so often, they will suffer a cup defeat at the hands of s side they were expected to beat easily.

This can be due to a number of factors – complacency, lack of preparation, injury, bad luck, or just an inspired performance from their opponents on the day.

Arsenal in particular, have been particularly prone to such upsets over the years. Here is a look back on matches that, even now, supporters of the club would prefer to forget.

Walsall FA Cup 1933

For many years this was regarded as one of the greatest FA Cup upsets of all time.

By 1933, Arsenal were widely regarded as the best side in England under the managership of the legendary Herbert Chapman. They had won the FA Cup in 1930, the League in 1931, and finished runners-up in the following season. And, before the decade was out, they would win four more league titles and the Cup for the second time in their history.

When they were drawn away against Third Division strugglers in the third round of the Cup in January 1933, few expected anything other than a comfortable win for the Gunners.

However, in front of ,more than 11,000 spectators crammed into the narrow Fellows Park ground, the home side sent shock waves throughout football, with two second-half goas from Gilbert Alsopo and Bill Sheppard.

It remains the greatest victory in the history of the West Midlands club.

Swindon Town League Cup Final 1969

As a club, Arsenal have suffered some of their worst moments as a club, but few can compare with what happened in the final in March 1969.

By that time the club had gone 16 years without a trophy, although they had come close the previous year, when they had reached the fianl of eh League Cup again, only to lose to a late Terry Cooper goal.

However, facing Swindon Town of the Third Division in the fianl this time, it seemed they would never have a better chance to end their trophy drought.

The team though was not in the best of shape, after a dose of flu ran through their camp in the days leading up to the match. And, instead of the green carpet normally expected in Wembley, the ill-conceived decision to allow the Horse of the Year Show to take place had churned the ground up, and combined with heavy rain it was transformed into a quagmire.

In the 35th minute, Swindon took the lead against the run of play when a mix-up between goalkeeper Bob Wilson and defender Ian Ure allowed Roger Smart the chance to capitalise and score.

With just four minutes left, Bobby Gould appeared to have spared Arsenal blushes by equalising with a header.

As the match was ready to head in to extra time, Arsenal manager Bertie Mee tried to convince the referee to abandon it and order a replay, concerned that his players might suffer injury on the increasingly heavy pitch.

Referee William Handley refused, and , with Mee’s side visibly tiring, Swindon retook the lead through Don Rogers. And it was Rogers who sealed the win with a solo goal.

It was the last time that a club from outside the op two tiers in English football won a domestic cup final.

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