The semi-final from Hell. Spurs like to claim they won the first time the two teams met at Wembley – they didn’t, Arsenal had thrashed them 4 – 0 a couple of years previously in a Makita Trophy match. This was a tie that was almost over before it began with Gascoigne’s outstanding free-kick and calamitous defending for Lineker’s first all before the clock had passed ten minutes.
Arsenal rolled for a while but a minute before half-time, Alan Smith scored and the world seemed to be a less grey place. Kevin Campbell hit the bar late in the game but it was over by then, Tottenham hitting Arsenal on the break with Seaman unable to stop Lineker scoring his second.
Not just being a semi-final defeat made this hard to take, it was because the team underperformed on the day with a number of players nowhere near their best. In that 1991 side, it was a rarity indeed. Or perhaps it was the fact that even being under-par did not bring about a victory.
Curiously, the Arsenal did not lose a game outside of London in that season. The only league defeat happened at Stamford Bridge whilst the League Cup campaigned ended in a 2 – 6 home reverse to Manchester United, this defeat at Wembley the last of the season.
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