Tim Stillman compiles some interesting semi-final stuff for you.
FIRSTS AND LAST
Arsenal played their first F.A. Cup semi-final as a North London club in 1927, beating Southampton 2-1 at Stamford Bridge. They would go on to lose the final to Cardiff City that year. Cardiff defeated Reading in their semi at Molineux, the Royals’ only previous appearance in this round. Woolwich Arsenal played two semi-finals previous to that, losing to Newcastle 2-0 at the Victoria Ground in 1906. They lost to ‘The Wednesday’ (later known as Sheffield Wednesday) in 1907 3-1 at St. Andrews.
Arsenal were the first team to win an F.A. Cup semi-final outside of England when they beat Blackburn Rovers 3-0 at the Millennium Stadium in 2005.
Arsenal contested the first ever F.A. Cup semi-final to be held at Wembley Stadium against Tottenham Hotspur in 1991. The Gunners were defeated 3-1 that day.
Charlie Buchan scored Arsenal’s first ever F.A. Cup semi-final goal at against Southampton at Stamford Bridge in 1927.
Arsenal played in the last ever F.A. Cup semi-final replay against Manchester United in 1999. Semi-final replays were abolished after that season.
Freddie Cox is Arsenal’s top scorer in this round of the competition, scoring 5 goals. All five came against Chelsea and at White Hart Lane, spread across four matches in 1950 and 1952. Cliff Bastin and Alan Sunderland have three apiece.
The 1950 F.A. Cup semi-final saw Arsenal’s Freddie Cox score an ‘Olimpico goal’ (he scored straight from a corner). The equaliser for that game saw Denis Compton deliver a corner which brother Leslie headed in.
Arsenal have successfully negotiated two goal deficits in three F.A. Cup semi-finals to qualify for the final. Against Hull City at Elland Road in 1930, winning the replay 1-0. They repeated the trick against Chelsea at White Hart Lane in 1950, again winning the replay 1-0. In 1971, a stoppage time Peter Storey penalty saw the Gunners claw Stoke City back to a 2-2 draw at Hillsborough. Bertie Mee’s side were victorious in the rematch, 2-0 at Villa Park.
The Gunners have played F.A. Cup semi-finals at Wembley Stadium four times. They have won twice (1993 and 2014) and lost twice (1991 and 2009).
Arsene Wenger has played a total of 10 F.A. Cup semi-finals (including the 1999 replay), he has won 6 (1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2014), drawn 1 (1999) and lost 3 (1999, 2004, 2009). He has defeated the three second tier sides he has played at this stage, beating Wolves, Sheffield United and Wigan.
The Gunners have used Villa Park the most for F.A. Cup semi-finals, having played there 12 times at this stage. Wembley and White Hart Lane have been used four times, Hillsborough and Old Trafford three times, Stamford Bridge twice and Filbert Street, Elland Road, Leeds Road, Goodison Park, Highfield Road and the Millennium Stadium once a piece.
The Gunners faced Stoke City in the semis in consecutive years in 1971 and 1972, winning on both occasions. Other teams Arsenal have met at the semi-final stage more than once include Blackburn Rovers, losing to them at Filbert Street in 1928, but beating them 3-0 in Cardiff in 2005.
Chelsea, whom the Gunners defeated in 1950 and 1952, needing a replay on both occasions, before succumbing to their city neighbours in 2009 at Wembley. Wolverhampton Wanderers lost to the North Londoners in the semis of 1979 and 1998. Arsenal fell foul of Manchester United in 1983, 1999 and 2004, on each occasion at Villa Park. The North London derby has been contested at this stage three times, with Spurs winning in 1991 but Arsenal securing bragging rights in 1993 at Wembley and in 2001 at Old Trafford.
In 1980, Arsenal and Liverpool played one another four times, drawing 0-0, 1-1 and 1-1 again, before they were separated by a Brian Talbot goal at Highfield Road. The tie holds the record for the longest F.A. Cup semi-final of all time.
The Gunners went unbeaten at this stage of the competition for 45 years between 1928 and 1973. They qualified for the final on 7 consecutive occasions in that time span.
Arsenal have played second tier opposition in the F.A. Cup semi-final on seven previous occasions, winning six (1927, 1930, 1978, 1998, 2003, 2014) and losing once to eventual winners Sunderland, in 1973.
Arsene Wenger qualified for 5 consecutive F.A. Cup semis between 2001 and 2005, a competition record.
Including replays, Arsenal have played a total of 34 times in this round of the competition. They have won 18, drawn 7 and lost 9, scoring 45 goals and conceding 32.
Excluding replays, this is Arsenal’s 28th F.A. Cup semi-final, overtaking Manchester United as a tournament record.
This tie will represent Arsenal’s 39th appearance at Wembley, which is a record. Reading have played there twice before, in the 1988 SIMOD Cup Final against Luton Town, which they won 2-0 and in the 2011 Championship Playoff final against Swansea City, which they lost 4-2.
THE TWO TEAMS
The only players in the Arsenal squad not to have experienced an F.A. Cup semi-final are Mathieu Debuchy, Gabriel, David Ospina, Alexis Sanchez, Calum Chambers, Francis Coquelin and Hector Bellerin. Debuchy was a Coupe de France winner with Lille in 2011. Alexis played and scored in the 2009 Coppa Italia for Udinese, though they were eliminated by Roma. He is also a 2012 Copa del Ray winner.
Of the Reading squad only Anton Ferdinand (2006) has played an F.A. Cup semi-final. Yakubu Aiyegbeni was injured for Everton’s 2009 fixture. Reading have no past F.A. Cup winners in their squad.
Reading manager Steve Clarke won both of the F.A. Cup semi-finals he contested as a player with Chelsea. He played the full 90 minutes in the 2-0 win over Luton Town at Wembley in 1994 and in Chelsea’s 3-0 victory over Wimbledon at Highbury in 1997. He was a cup winner that year. He was assistant manager when Chelsea won the trophy in 2007.
HEAD TO HEAD
Arsenal and Reading have played one another three times in the F.A. Cup. Arsenal have won on all three occasions. Cliff Bastin’s goal in the 5th round was enough for victory at Elm Park in 1935. Pat Rice scored a rare goal as Arsenal overcame the Royal 2-1 at Elm Park in the 4th round in 1972. In 1987, a Martin Hayes penalty and a Charlie Nicholas brace saw the Gunners win a 3rd round tie 3-1 at Highbury.
Rice’s goal in the 1972 encounter earned him an idiosyncratic song. When quizzed about the strike by a BBC reporter, Rice described his strike as “tasty”, earning him the terrace chant “Pat Rice, tasty goal!”
The teams have met 12 times in all competitions with Arsenal winning every single encounter to date.
The last time Arsenal and Reading met in a cup competition, the Gunners came from 4-0 down to beat Reading 7-5 after extra time in the 2012-13 League Cup.
With thanks to @Gooner_AK