GUNNERS PREVIEW: Talbot urges Wenger to rekindle spirit of '79
Arsenal v Cardiff City FA Cup fourth round replay Tuesday, kick off 7.45pm Live Setanta Sports Brian Talbot has urged Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to play his strongest side in the FA Cup – and rekindle the spirit of 79. The Suffolk-born midfielder cappe
Arsenal v Cardiff City
FA Cup fourth round replay
Tuesday, kick off 7.45pm
Live Setanta Sports
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Brian Talbot has urged Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to play his strongest side in the FA Cup - and rekindle the spirit of '79.
The Suffolk-born midfielder capped a fantastic first few months at his new club with a goal in that classic 3-2 FA Cup final win over Manchester United 30 years ago this May.
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He believes the current Gunners are well placed to repeat that glorious Wembley afternoon, starting with victory over Cardiff City in their fourth round replay at The Emirates on Tuesday night.
That would set up a fifth round home clash with either West Bromwich Albion or Burnley.
"It disappoints me how all the big clubs play weakened sides in the FA Cup," Talbot told Ham&High Series Sport.
"I understand why - it's finances. They want the money from the Champions League and finishing high up the Premier League table.
"But I do believe the FA Cup magic is still there, it's never really gone in my book.
"And maybe the cup is our best chance. Let's go out against Cardiff on Tuesday and finish them off. We've another home tie lined up against opponents we really should beat comfortably, and before you know where you are, it's the quarter finals."
Arsenal's last major silverware came against United in the 2005 FA Cup final at The Millennium Stadium.
With Arsenal fans now desperate for a trophy, Talbot believes the wait could be over.
"I do think we have a very good chance in the Champions League, too," he said.
"I think knockout football is our best bet this season. I think the league is out of our reach. Wouldn't it be a magnificent season to win the FA Cup and the Champions League."
Talbot made his debut for Arsenal 30 years ago last week when Terry Neill's side beat Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest 2-1 at Highbury in front of 52,000.
"My God," he sighed, when reminded, "in life things go so quickly. I honestly cannot believe it was 30 years ago.
"It was a big move for me at the time, leaving Ipswich, my hometown club. But 1979 went so well for me - finishing the season with a win in the cup final."
Talbot's goal in the so-called "five minute final", when United fought back from 2-0 down to level before Alan Sunderland netted a last-gasp winner for Arsenal, was one of 49 he netted in 327 first team outings for the Gunners. But it was definitely one of his most memorable.
"To get to a cup final is a dream. To score in it - and win the trophy - is just unbelievable," he recalled.
"With the 30th anniversary of that win over United, it would be fitting for us to go all the way again this year with Cesc Fabregas returning to lead us out at Wembley in May.
"But I honestly don't think some of the foreign players have that same feeling for the competition.
I hope they do, but I'm not so sure."
Try telling that to Ivory Coast-born Swiss international defender Johan Djourou.
The centre-half insists no team wants to win the FA Cup more than Arsenal, despite Wenger resting several regulars at Ninian Park last Saturday.
The cup, he insists, is not a second-class competition and that Arsenal will finish off Cardiff in Tuesday night's televised clash.
"The FA Cup's a chance for everyone to get silverware. It is very important for the players at Arsenal," said Djourou.
"We are after it, we want to win it. That's the way we play in every competition - we are not taking it lightly.
"It is a competition we want to win because Arsenal wants to be the best and to do that you have to win everything.
"The replay is a game we could have done without but we have it and we will do the job at the end of it. Replays are what the FA Cup is about too. It's the magic of it, you might say, because it is different to play replays and to have the chance to play the same team again."
Arsenal's charm offensive on the world's oldest knockout competition continued with Wenger, a four-time winner of the silver pot, also heaping praise on last weekend's frenetic cup tie.
"Everywhere you go you know you must fight like mad to go through and that is why the FA Cup is fantastic," said the Arsenal manager.
"It was a great day. We wanted to win the game but it was a typical afternoon of complete support from their crowd and complete commitment from their team.
"You needed something special to win the game. I enjoyed it because the people were frenetic - and some were fanatic."
Cardiff, however, smell an upset. Midfielder Joe Ledley says the Bluebirds, who were beaten
2-1 at Highbury in the third round three years ago, can reverse that scoreline at the new stadium.
He added: "We believe in ourselves - there is no doubt we are capable of winning at Arsenal.
"They are one of the best teams in Europe but we matched them at Ninian Park and we can do the same again.
"There is no point in making the trip to the Emirates unless we really believe in ourselves. We will go there intending to give it everything we have in the bid to win."
It's hoped The Emirates return will not see more animosity between the two sets of fans.
South Wales Police said they made three arrests after the match at Ninian Park as groups of rival supporters attempted to fight each other.