Sunday, 20 February 2011

Where Barca fear to tread?

In what may seem the unlikely (but not impossible) event of Leyton Orient beating Arsenal in the replay of their FA Cup Fifth Round tie at the Emirates stadium on 2 March 2011, their reward would be an away tie at Manchester United ten days later.

After today's remarkable home 1-1 draw against the Gunners, the Os fans were chanting, "We're better than Barcelona!" - referencing Arsenal's equally notable 2-1 midweek win against the Catalans in the European Champions League.

The merchandisers are on song too, I see -- with an eBay auction for a video of today's Brisbane Road encounter already up and running. Meanwhile, Orient goalscorer Jonathan Tehoue was not among the seven things the Gunners had been advised to watch out for in East London... a cunning ploy from Matt Simpson (author of Leyton Orient Greats) in the West Stand, no doubt.

Barry Glendenning also makes a good point about the future of the competition that has engineered this little piece of football magic, too: "Leyton Orient's players are as jubilant as you might expect and have just been joined by their chairman Barry Hearn, who looks beside himself with excitement. Hearn featured in the Observer this morning saying it would be crazy to do away with FA Cup replays, and those scenes are proof that further meddling in the format of the FA Cup just to please Premier League titans who can't be bothered to field full-strength teams to win matches first time out would be most unwelcome."

Speaking on Sky Sports News, Hearn says of today's result: "We can play a lot better than that... there's still a long way to go in this tie." He pays tribute to manager Russell Slade and says this is the best Orient team in sixteen years.

The money from the Cup tie will be used to fight the EPL, the Football League and West Ham over the Olympic Stadium issue, he says. "This is going to run longer than an Agatha Christie novel!"

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