Arsenal and Crystal Palace legend Kenny Sansom thinks the Gunners are in turmoil and the Eagles could spring a surprise at the Emirates.
Arsenal don’t look in a good state. Things don’t seem right at the club. It’s affecting the fans, the staff and the players. Perhaps it’s loads of small things, which aren’t being dealt with. Arsenal are playing poorly and I’m being polite. The players are not playing well, as a team or as individuals.
Sanchez has been fantastic for the club. His work rate has been incredible. He was playing at right-back at times at Palace a few weeks ago. It’ll be interesting to hear what he has to say, once he joins United. The truth will come out, to fix these things.
It was a shame Arsenal went out of the cup so early, but Forest played better and they deserved to win. I saw an Arsenal fan in the crowd after the game, shouting “Rubbish! Rubbish!” In my first FA Cup game for Arsenal, at Everton in 1981, I scored an own goal unfortunately and we lost 2-0 late on. The club had been in the previous three finals!
And I played at York in 1985, where we lost late 1-0. It was very close to being called off due to ice. We didn’t want it to be played, but it did. Stevie Williams fouled their player and they scored a last-minute penalty. I think Stevie wanted to hit Keith Houchen after he scored! Was it a penalty? It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, the result is the result.
It’s hard to judge this transfer window for Arsenal. Some of the lads could be friends with Sanchez and Walcott. They could be sad to see them go. But the club and the staff rely on the players coming together. With the money now, if the players aren’t happy and stick together that way, there’s not a lot a club can do.
The players have all the power now over the clubs. The players and their agents, it’s taking a lot out of football. At the end of the day, they make the decisions. It used to be chairman, manager, player. Now it’s player, chairman, manager. For me, that is fact.
With Palace, their turnaround is amazing. Zaha has the talent to play. I’d love to train him one on one. He has talent. He can be a better player. In the FA Cup at Brighton, Palace didn’t play well. We didn’t quite have enough. Fans will always be fans, they’ll always want to win the FA Cup. For clubs, things have become commercial and it’s become more important to do well in the league.
I think the Premier League takes priority over cup games now. I don’t think players are that bothered about the FA Cup anymore, unless they reach the quarter-finals, then it starts to matter. For the smaller clubs, the FA Cup is still massive and may it stay that way for many years.
A cup semi-final is the worst to lose. I was in the Arsenal team that lost to Manchester United at Villa Park in 1983 and it was the worst journey home. Stewart Robson made it 1-0 and we were buzzing at half-time. Terry Neill told us to calm down and we went out and conceded quickly and lost 2-1. It was a long journey home. It was only two hours, but it felt like six.
I think anything could happen at the Emirates. Palace have a great individual in Zaha, but Arsenal knew themselves better than Palace at Selhurst a few weeks ago, when they beat Palace 3-2. Arsenal are in a mess on and off the pitch at the minute and Palace are in a really good run. I really couldn’t call this game.
It could be down to an individual, or a great team performance and then you nick a goal. I’m not sitting on the fence, I just think it’s such a difficult game to call. Anything could happen on the day. Even if I had to try to predict it, I couldn’t! Either of the sides could win it, honestly! I hope it’s a 4-4 draw!
I’d love to do a piece to camera, or go on the radio, talking about technology in football today. I’d make my point so clearly and honestly. A genuine honest opinion about the Premier League and how standards have dropped. Like Brian Clough used to say, if you don’t score you can’t win and if you don’t concede you can’t lose.