Let’s face it, realistically we’re going out of the FA Cup on Saturday evening. Despite all of the optimism, there is no hiding that Lincoln City will have to pull the 1-in-1000 performance that Danny Cowley has hinted at in recent times. We’ve got to be at our absolute best and Arsenal will need to be at their lowest low. There are a lot of scenarios ahead of Saturday’s 17:30 kick off, and the vast majority see Arsenal come out on top……but we might just be capable of pulling off the unthinkable.
This season has been exceptional for the Imps already. After ten years of finishes in the lower half of each table, relegation and humiliations in cups to Carshalton Athletic, Whitehawk FC and Bradford Park Avenue, we’re finally having a decent season, and boy, aren’t we making up for all the awfulness since Keith Alexander left. We’re top of the National League by six points, a two legged tie against a relegation threatened side away from Wembley in the FA Trophy, the first non-league side in the quarter finals of the FA Cup in 103 years, have scored four or more goals and have recorded wins away at teams that we’d never previously beaten any from Sincil Bank, such as Gateshead, Woking, Welling and several others.
Our FA Cup run is now at it’s seventh time and the Imps have been underdogs in four of the previous six, facing sides from a minimum of two divisions above us in each of the previous four rounds. The Oldham and Ipswich games came at the right times as neither were playing with confidence and the managers were under pressure, so progressing to the fourth round given our resurgence wasn’t that much of a surprise, but since then our run has simply been exceptional.
Brighton and Hove Albion are probably going to be a Premier League club next season, and even though it was largely a second string that they put out, they were still a squad of quality players. The Burnley game was very much backs to the wall for the Imps, but the back four put in a defending masterclass, and on that day we proved that you only need one chance to generate greatness. No-one can accuse us of getting to the Quarter Finals the easy way.
The one worry is that aside from Arsenal realistically being much better than City, is that we might be in for a backlash of their humbling at the hands of Bayern Munich, but where the Imps will draw heart from is whilst you can’t question the work ethic of a single member of City squad, can you honestly look at the Arsenal squad and see players who will show true grit and the need to get their hands dirty?
Arsenal have shown in the recent past that whilst they can beat the struggling teams relatively simply, anyone who is either better than them on paper (or very much in reality), or pressures them as much as we’re going to, generally do fairly well. Like most defences this season, they won’t know what to do with Matt Rhead.
I would argue that the biggest advantage that we have is that we have nothing to lose. If we win then we make history and have a trip to Wembley for the first time in our history (something we could potentially do four times this season), if we lose then it’s not as if it is a surprise. We go into this game completely devoid of pressure, whereas Arsenal are the exact opposite. They are in a no-win scenario. If they win then it’s the minimum that was expected of them, but if they lose then they will be forever known as the team that lost at home to a non-league side in the quarter finals of the FA Cup.
I’m going to end this article by saying that I’ve just finished watching Barcelona come from 4-0 down to score a 95th minute winner to make it 6-5. If that 1-in-1000 shot can happen, why can’t Lincoln’s?