â€œAbsolutely chuffing blindingâ€, I said right here in 2005 as Patrick Vieira lobbed his cup-winning grenade at Utd, â€œit really doesnâ€™t get better than thisâ€.
And that, looking back, was just a year after our Invincibles season, a mere two years since our last FA Cup win, and just three years after weâ€™d won the double.
We were serial trophy winners then, and I was still bowled over; knocked sideways. Nine years on, and whoâ€™d have thought it then – weâ€™ve not won a pot since. Come close a few times, sure – on various stages – but fallen short. Thereâ€™s not been enough of the â€˜chuffingâ€™ and weâ€™ve been deficient in the â€˜blindingâ€™ department to the tune of any.
So yes, itâ€™s a laborious way of saying Iâ€™m excited. The cupâ€™s never lost its allure for me, and if Twitter is my guide (my skittish guide) then the feeling is widespread.
Of course, this is Arsenal and itâ€™s never that simple anyway. On tomorrow rides the future perception (and maybe even the future) of Arsene, of this promising squad thatâ€™s won nothing and of the hopes of millions of angst-ridden gooners.
I look back with generally good memories on my experience of FA Cup finals. I vaguely recall Brookingâ€™s forehead killing us off in â€˜80, but luckily I was young and at that point I was more into Star Wars figures.
I watched the â€˜93 final from my then abode in Paris. It got messy after that game, if I recall, which I donâ€™t, though I think someone may have put some washing up liquid in a fountain.
The first I went to was 1998, when we were far too good for Newcastle. I was in Cardiff in 2001, when the less said about the result the better, though it was warm and sunny. I was on holiday in New York in 2002 (schoolboy scheduling error), but I was present and correct in 2003 (in the rain, under the roof) to watch Le Bob make it three cups in six years. Then there was 2005. Thatâ€™s not a bad record.
That brings us to now. Itâ€™s a one-off game, and as we all know they donâ€™t always do what you want them to. All I ask, and I donâ€™t think we got this in 2011, is a performance where the players are focused to within an inch of their lives, and give all theyâ€™ve got.
Wenger might dispute that, putting it down to bad luck and a bad error, but I remember watching the Birmingham players before that final huddling together and immensely focused, while ours sauntered about. I had a bad feeling from the off. We canâ€™t afford any complacency at all.
The good news is, weâ€™ve changed a lot since then, I think, in terms of character. Look at this from the Evening Standard on Thursday, and youâ€™ll see who we had in our squad then.
Can't say we miss many of these pic.twitter.com/DFatLFnhhw
— East Lower (@eastlower) May 15, 2014
Honestly, compare then and now. Sure, weâ€™re still a way off where we want to be, and weâ€™ve had some right mares this season, some truly baffling cave-ins, but look at that squad and look at ours now. I think weâ€™re going in the right direction.
Iâ€™m so excited. As excited as I was in 2006 as we thundered down the Boulevard St Michel with Oxford Matt, Feverpitch and my brother Charlie, in a pick-up truck, flags dangling everywhere, windows down, playing Riddimkilla.
Iâ€™ve not been a Gunner Since â€˜79. Iâ€™d say it was more like â€˜80. But if you get tired of this, youâ€™re in the wrong business. If you prefer fourth every year to this – to the nerves, the excitement, the flags draped from houses (and from Piebury Corner), the random people coming up to you at work and wishing you well, then have a long think.
I canâ€™t wait. Itâ€™s the FA Cup final.
Come on you rip-roarers.