Arsenal host Doncaster Rovers in the third round of the Carabao Cup this evening. The last time the two clubs met in the competition was 12 years ago.
Back in 2005, the same year that Arsenal won the FA Cup over Manchester United in Cardiff, the Gunners were looking to follow that up with League Cup success, and had managed to reach the fifth round.
The team was drawn away to Doncaster, and so on December 21 Arsène Wenger’s side travelled to the Belle Vue Stadium to face Rovers.
Fielding a team of young players, some of whom went on to become regulars, like Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Eboue, Johan Djourou and Alex Song, Arsenal got off to a nightmare start, falling behind after just four minutes.
The Gunners rallied to force extra time, with a goal from Quincy Owusu-Abeyie in the 63rd minute, but that was far from the end of the drama.
Rovers’ Paul Green gave Doncaster the lead again in extra time, and it was only a 120th minute equaliser from Gilberto Silva that saved the game and sent it to penalties.
From there it was just a matter of holding their nerves. Gilberto Silva, Pascal Cygan and Sebastian Larsson scored the first three penalties for the Gunners, whilst Doncaster scored one, missed one and had one saved.
Aleksander Hleb had his penalty saved as well, but Almunia ended up the hero of the day, saving from Paul Green to win the match.
I wouldn’t mind tonight’s match being a bit more straightforward, to be honest.