FA Cup Final 2001 Arsenal v Liverpool

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Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool
FA Cup Final   12th May 2001, Millennium Stadium

Robert Pires Copyright Mr. Alexander Ottesen and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 2.5
Robert Pires

The magic of the cup

The FA Cup Final of 2001 was a dramatic game played between two of the most successful teams in English football history. Arsenal had lifted the cup seven times and Liverpool had won it five times. Both were looking for yet another victory to add to their ever expanding trophy cabinets. The game looked finely balanced with little to choose between the two teams.

Only one point had separated them as they finished second and third in the league behind Manchester United.

Wenger’s classy Gunners

FA Cup Final 2001
Owen scores
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Arsenal were managed by Frenchman Arsene Wenger. Since taking the hot seat in 1996, Wenger had completely changed the style of play at Arsenal.

He bought young French players Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Sylvain Wiltord. They complemented the steely defence Wenger had inherited, and added to the class of Dennis Bergkamp, they moulded together to create a formidable team.

They were renowned for brilliant passing and movement and could tear teams apart at will on their day. They had finished the season as runners up to Manchester United in the Premier League.

Liverpool chasing cup treble

Gerard Houllier Copyright Stew Jones and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 3
Gérard Houllier

Liverpool were also managed by a Frenchman in Gérard Houllier. He was an experienced coach and had built a solid team on a strong defensive base.

They had already won the Worthington cup earlier in the season beating lower league opposition, Birmingham, in a penalty shootout.

They also had the UEFA cup final, against Alaves of Spain, just a few days away so potentially could win three cups in one season.

Bergkamp left on bench

Both managers had big decisions to make regarding their starting line-up.

Wenger sent out an eleven of David Seaman in goal, a back four of Lee Dixon, Ashley Cole, Tony Adams and Martin Keown. In midfield Arsenal had Patrick Vieira, Gilles Grimandi, Freddie Ljungberg and Robert Pires.

Thierry Henry scored 17 Premier League goals in the 2000/01 season, joint third behind Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (23) and Marcus Stewart (19)

The big decision was whether or not to pair Dennis Bergkamp with Thierry Henry after he had been out for a long time with an injury. Wenger opted to leave Bergkamp on the bench and instead chose Sylvain Wiltord and Henry in attack.

Even with Bergkamp’s omission, it was still a fantastic team. The defence was packed with experience and the midfield had a fine mix of muscle and skill.

Heskey in, Fowler out for Liverpool

Gerard Houllier had a fine squad of players to select from. Having played so many games over the season, due to Liverpool’s success in the cup competitions, he needed to rotate his starting eleven to match the occasion.

For this particular game, he picked Sander Westerveld in goal, Markus Babbel, Sami Hyypia, Stephane Henchoz and Jamie Carragher in defence.  Dietmar Hamann, Steven Gerrard, Danny Murphy and Vladimir Smicer were in midfield, with Michael Owen and Emile Heskey up front.

It was a solid looking eleven with pace and power in attack and a strong defensive line that had served them well all season.

They also had internationals Gary McAllister, Patrik Berger and Robbie Fowler on the bench to bring on if necessary. Arsenal denied penalty as game gets underway – Read more

FA Cup Final 2001
Owen scores
More Classic Matches

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