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2003 FA Cup Final

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2003 FA Cup Final
2003 FA Cup Final programme.jpg
The match programme cover
Event2002–03 FA Cup
Date17 May 2003
VenueMillennium Stadium, Cardiff
Man of the MatchThierry Henry (Arsenal)
RefereeGraham Barber (Hertfordshire)
13 °C (55 °F)[1]

The 2003 FA Cup Final was the 122nd final of the FA Cup, the world's oldest domestic football cup competition.[2] The final took place on Saturday 17 May 2003 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, in front of a crowd of 73,726. It was the third consecutive year the final was played at the stadium, due to the ongoing reconstruction of Wembley Stadium, the final's usual venue. The 2003 final was the first to be played indoors; the roof was closed because of bad weather. The clubs contesting the final were Arsenal, the holders of the competition and Southampton. This was Arsenal's sixteenth appearance in a final to Southampton's fourth.

As Premier League clubs, Arsenal and Southampton entered the FA Cup in the third round, which meant each club needed to progress through five rounds to reach the final. Arsenal made a convincing start, they won their opening three rounds, but needed a sixth-round replay against Chelsea. By contrast, Southampton played one replay in the fourth round against Millwall. Arsenal entered the match as favourites and had beaten Southampton 6–1 nine days earlier in the league. Goalkeeper David Seaman captained Arsenal in the absence of the injured Patrick Vieira; it was to be Seaman's last appearance for the club. In defence for Southampton, Chris Baird made only his second competitive start. Chris Marsden captained the club in the absence of the injured club captain, Jason Dodd.

Arsenal began the match more effectively of the two and scored what proved to be the winning goal in the latter minutes of the first half – Freddie Ljungberg's rebounded goal effort was converted by Robert Pires. Midway through the second half, Southampton goalkeeper Antti Niemi was substituted, as he strained his calf muscle; he was replaced by Paul Jones. In stoppage time, striker James Beattie had his header cleared off the line by Ashley Cole, in what was the final chance for Southampton.

Arsenal's win marked the first time a team had retained the trophy since Tottenham Hotspur in 1982. They later played against league champions Manchester United in the 2003 FA Community Shield. Given Arsenal had already qualified for Europe via their league position, their UEFA Cup spot was awarded to runners-up Southampton.

Route to the final[edit]


Round Opposition Score
3rd Oxford United (h) 2–0
4th Farnborough Town (a) 5–1
5th Manchester United (a) 2–0
6th Chelsea (h) 2–2
Chelsea (a) 3–1
Semi-final Sheffield United (n) 1–0
Key: (h) = Home venue; (a) = Away venue; (n) = Neutral venue.

Arsenal entered the competition in the third round, receiving a bye as a Premier League club. Their opening match was a 2–0 home win against Oxford United on 4 January 2003.[3] Striker Dennis Bergkamp scored his 100th goal for the club and an own goal by defender Scott McNiven ensured progression to the next round.[4] Arsenal faced non-league side Farnborough Town; the match switched from Farnborough's ground at Cherrywood Road to Highbury due to concerns over safety.[5] Farnborough began the match as the home team and conceded the first goal, scored by Arsenal defender Sol Campbell in the 19th minute. They went down to ten men after Christian Lee was sent off for a professional foul. Francis Jeffers scored twice before Rocky Baptiste added a consolation, beating Pascal Cygan for pace and despite having his first shot saved by goalkeeper Stuart Taylor, he managed to lift the ball over him and into the net. Lauren and Bergkamp each scored in the final 15 minutes to give Arsenal a 5–1 victory.[6]

Arsenal's fifth round match was away to league rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford on 16 February 2003. After Ryan Giggs missed the chance to score past an open goal, midfielder Edu gave Arsenal the lead through a free kick which took a deflection off David Beckham's shoulder. Striker Sylvain Wiltord scored the second goal of the match in the 52nd minute, running onto a pass from Edu and side-footing the ball past goalkeeper Fabien Barthez.[7] Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira said of the performance: "We knew when we lost here in the league that we had lost the battle in midfield. We had to put that right, and we did."[8] In the sixth round, Arsenal was drawn at home to Chelsea in a repeat of the previous season's final.[9] Chelsea defender John Terry put Chelsea ahead with a header from a set piece before Arsenal responded through Jeffers and Thierry Henry. Frank Lampard scored a late equaliser for the visiting team meaning the match was replayed at Stamford Bridge.[10] An own goal by Terry and a strike by Wiltord in the space of seven minutes during the replay gave Arsenal an early lead against Chelsea. Despite going down to ten men after Cygan was sent off and Terry scoring from a header, the away team scored a third goal through Lauren to ensure progression into the semi-finals.[11] In the semi-final against Sheffield United on 13 April 2003 at Old Trafford, Freddie Ljungberg scored the winning goal to help Arsenal reach their third successive FA Cup final appearance.[12] The match was best remembered for David Seaman's late save, which prevented Sheffield United from equalising.[13]


Round Opposition Score
3rd Tottenham Hotspur (h) 4–0
4th Millwall (h) 1–1
Millwall (a) 2–1
5th Norwich City (h) 2–0
6th Wolverhampton Wanderers (h) 2–0
Semi-final Watford (n) 2–1
Key: (h) = Home venue; (a) = Away venue; (n) = Neutral venue.

Like Arsenal, as a Premier League club, Southampton received a bye into the third round. Their opening match was a 4–0 win against fellow league club Tottenham Hotspur. A goal by defender Michael Svensson and three from Jo Tessem, Anders Svensson and James Beattie in the second half was the second straight victory against Tottenham, having beaten them on New Year's Day in the league.[14] In the fourth round, Southampton was drawn at home to First Division club Millwall on 25 January 2003. The visitors took the lead through striker Steve Claridge but were denied victory 90 seconds from the end of the match as Southampton striker Kevin Davies scored from a rebounded shot.[15] In the replay, midfielder Matthew Oakley scored twice for Southampton (one in both halves) either side of a Steven Reid equaliser for Millwall.[16]

Southampton's fifth round match was against Norwich City at home on 5 February 2003. Two goals in the space of three minutes, scored by Svensson and Tessem was enough to take the team into the quarter-finals.[17] Southampton defender Claus Lundekvam was pleased with the win and said following the match: "When you get to this stage in the competition you have to believe you can win it."[18] The club then faced Wolverhampton Wanderers at home in the following round. Former Wolves player Chris Marsden gave Southampton the lead in the 56th minute and with nine minutes remaining of normal time, the team added a second goal when Tessem's shot took a deflection off Paul Butler's legs to go inside the goal net.[19] The victory meant Southampton reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the first time in 17 years.[20] At Villa Park, Southampton played First Division team Watford on 13 April 2003. Brett Ormerod opened the scoring two minutes before half time and set up the second goal which saw the ball being taken over the line by Watford defender Paul Robinson. Despite Marcus Gayle scoring a late header to half the scoreline Southampton won the match.[21]


Sir Bobby Robson was the chief guest for the final, and presented the trophy to the winners

Arsenal was appearing in the final of the FA Cup for the sixteenth time. They had won the cup eight times previously (in 1930, 1936, 1950, 1971, 1979, 1993, 1998 and 2002) and had been beaten in the final seven times, the most recent in 2001. By comparison, Southampton made their fourth appearance in a FA Cup final. Their previous best was winning the cup in 1976, by beating opponents Manchester United.[22]

Both clubs received an allocation of approximately 25,000 tickets, with the remaining 25,000 being sent out to other clubs.[23] 17,500 of those tickets were available to Southampton season ticket holders.[24] Seat prices for the final exceeded £80, with the cheapest tickets available at £25.[24] Southampton was given the South Stand, which was the larger end of the stadium, whereas Arsenal was situated at the opposite end.[24] Although Southampton supporters were disappointed at the allocation share, chairman Rupert Lowe refused to criticise the FA's decision, by saying: "The reality is that too many people want to go and there are never enough tickets."[25] In the lead up to the final, the South Wales Echo reported that many tickets were being sold on the black market, for "20 times" the face-value price.[23]

Nine days before the final, the two clubs faced each other in a league match at Highbury. With Arsenal unable to retain the title, having lost to Leeds United, manager Arsène Wenger rested several players, as did Southampton manager Gordon Strachan, whose team started without six of their first-choice eleven.[26] Winger Jermaine Pennant on his league debut scored a hat-trick, as did Pires, in a 6–1 win.[26] Strachan believed the result had little bearing on their chances of winning the cup, noting: "There is little pressure on Southampton to lift the trophy. We were not expected to reach the final and have already clinched a place in the UEFA Cup."[27]

The traditional Cup Final hymn, "Abide with Me" was sung by Tony Henry, an opera singer from South London.[28] Sir Bobby Robson was invited as the FA's chief guest for the final and performed several duties ordinarily reserved for royalty, such as presenting the trophy to the winning captain. Heavy rain on Friday night and forecasted showers in Cardiff meant the final would be the first to be played indoors; the stadium closed its retractable roof and floodlights were used to light up the ground.[29]


Team selection[edit]

Vieira was ruled out of the match because of a knee injury, so Seaman was named as Arsenal captain, in a match widely anticipated as his final for the club.[30] With Campbell suspended and Cygan absent due to a thigh strain,[31] Wenger picked Oleg Luzhny to pair up with Martin Keown, who was rested the previous Sunday away to Sunderland. For Southampton, the major absentee was striker Marian Pahars, who underwent a third operation to overcome a troubling knee injury.[32] Defender Chris Baird made his second competitive start for the club and Chris Marsden captained Southampton, given Jason Dodd's absence with an injury. Although both teams set up in a 4–4–2 formation, Bergkamp was positioned as a deep-lying forward behind Henry.[33]


Robert Pires scored the only goal of the final

Arsenal created their first chance inside 24 seconds, when Ljungberg put Henry clear down the right-hand side.[34] The striker used his pace to get the better of Lundekvam, only to have his shot blocked by goalkeeper Antti Niemi.[34] Bergkamp's goal effort in the eighth minute was cleared off the line by full back Chris Baird, after Niemi fumbled Henry's initial shot.[34] Southampton fashioned their first opportunity in the 15th minute through a high cross; in spite of unsettling the Arsenal defence, the unmarked Svensson volleyed over the bar.[34] Baird moments after won the ball in midfield and curled a shot that left Seaman "scrambling across his goal to save". Seven minutes before the break, Arsenal went into the lead. Henry, receiving the ball from Parlour, slipped it into Bergkamp down the right. He in turn fed the ball to Ljungberg, whose shot was blocked. The ball rebounded in the direction of Pires, who needed one touch to set himself and another to fire into the goal at the near post, despite Niemi getting a hand to the ball.[34] Arsenal missed further chances to extend their lead when a cross from the right by Henry was shot over the bar by Pires and from the same area, Bergkamp's "cross-cum-shot" was missed by Ljungberg.[35]

After the break, Southampton applied pressure and a poor clearance by Seaman invited a chance for Paul Telfer to shoot from "35 yards out"; his pass found Ormerod, but was eventually intercepted by Luzhny.[36] Minutes after, Beattie failed to take advantage from Oakley's cross, as the ball drifted wide.[36] Arsenal regained possession and in the 52nd minute went close to doubling their lead.[37] In Southampton's penalty box, Bergkamp turned and beat Ormerod before curling a shot which Niemi palmed off; it fell to the feet of Ljungberg, who shot the ball into the side-netting.[37] Telfer misguided his header from a Southampton corner, before Niemi denied Henry again. In the 65th minute, Niemi injured himself, in an attempt to clear the ball and was replaced by substitute Paul Jones.[37] Both clubs made substitutions in the final third of the game, with Wiltord coming on for Bergkamp and Tessem replacing Svensson.[37] Ormerod's goal-bound effort was saved by Seaman with 10 minutes remaining of the match. In the fourth minute of injury time, Southampton earned themselves a corner.[37] Beattie's on-target header was cleared off the line by Ashley Cole and out for another corner, which Pires kicked out in the final action of the game.[37]


Pires Goal 38' Report
Attendance: 73,726
GK 1 England David Seaman (c)
RB 12 Cameroon Lauren
CB 5 England Martin Keown Yellow card 30'
CB 22 Ukraine Oleg Luzhny
LB 3 England Ashley Cole
RM 7 France Robert Pires
CM 15 England Ray Parlour
CM 19 Brazil Gilberto Silva
LM 8 Sweden Freddie Ljungberg
SS 10 Netherlands Dennis Bergkamp Substituted off 77'
CF 14 France Thierry Henry Yellow card 66'
GK 13 England Stuart Taylor
DF 28 Ivory Coast Kolo Touré
MF 16 Netherlands Giovanni van Bronckhorst
FW 11 France Sylvain Wiltord Substituted in 77'
FW 25 Nigeria Nwankwo Kanu
France Arsène Wenger
Arsenal vs Southampton 2003-05-17.svg
GK 14 Finland Antti Niemi Substituted off 66'
RB 32 Northern Ireland Chris Baird Substituted off 86'
CB 5 Norway Claus Lundekvam
CB 11 Sweden Michael Svensson Yellow card 90'
LB 3 England Wayne Bridge
RM 33 Scotland Paul Telfer Yellow card 60'
CM 8 England Matthew Oakley
CM 12 Sweden Anders Svensson Substituted off 75'
LM 4 England Chris Marsden (c) Yellow card 77'
CF 36 England Brett Ormerod
CF 9 England James Beattie Yellow card 31'
GK 1 Wales Paul Jones Substituted in 66'
DF 6 England Paul Williams
DF 19 Gibraltar Danny Higginbotham
MF 29 France Fabrice Fernandes Substituted in 86'
FW 21 Norway Jo Tessem Substituted in 75'
Scotland Gordon Strachan

Man of the match

Match officials

Match rules

  • 90 minutes.
  • 30 minutes of extra-time if necessary.
  • Penalty shootout if scores still level.
  • Five named substitutes.
  • Maximum of three substitutions.


Statistic[39] Arsenal Southampton
Goals scored 1 0
Possession 59% 41%
Shots on target 7 4
Shots off target 5 10
Corner kicks 4 8
Fouls 10 18
Offsides 3 3
Yellow cards 2 4
Red cards 0 0


In retaining the cup, Arsenal became the first team to do so since Tottenham Hotspur in 1982. Wenger commented after the game that his team "got the trophy we wanted" while Strachan was in admiration of Southampton's performance: "I'm very proud of the way they competed. I couldn't have asked for any more."[40] Keown said the FA Cup win was "the best ever" and Seaman felt the disappointment of losing out to Manchester United in the league spurred the team on.[40] Football pundits Alan Hansen, Peter Schmeichel and Mark Hughes unanimously agreed that Arsenal deserved to win the match.[41]

Arsenal's victory set up a Community Shield match against Manchester United, winners of the 2002–03 Premier League. The FA Cup winners are awarded qualification into the UEFA Cup, but because Arsenal qualified for the UEFA Champions League via their league position, the UEFA Cup place was passed to Southampton, the runners-up.[42]

The match was broadcast live in the United Kingdom by both the BBC and Sky Sports, with BBC One providing the free-to-air coverage and Sky Sports 1 being the pay-TV alternative.[43] BBC One held the majority of the viewership, with a peak audience of 9.6 million viewers (55.7% viewing share) watching at 16:50pm and the match averaged at 8.3 million (55%) – the highest audience for a FA Cup final in four years.[44] Coverage of the final began on the channel at 12:10pm and averaged 5.3 million (44.4%).[44] The Match of the Day coverage concluded at different times dependent on station, with the broadcast in Scotland ending 10 minutes before the main broadcast finished.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History for Cardiff-Wales, United Kingdom". Weather Underground. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  2. ^ "History of The FA Cup". The Football Association. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  3. ^ "Arsenal end Oxford dream". BBC Sport. 4 January 2003. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  4. ^ Burnton, Simon (6 January 2003). "Bergkamp worthy of ton of respect". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  5. ^ Bradley, Mark (9 January 2003). "Farnborough to switch cup tie". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  6. ^ "Arsenal cruise through". BBC Sport. 25 January 2003. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  7. ^ "Arsenal cruise past Man Utd". BBC Sport. 16 February 2003. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  8. ^ Wilson, Paul (16 February 2003). "Arsenal triumph as Giggs goes missing". The Observer. London. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  9. ^ "London giants collide". BBC Sport. 27 February 2003. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  10. ^ "Chelsea hold Arsenal". BBC Sport. 8 March 2003. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  11. ^ "Arsenal brush aside Chelsea". BBC Sport. 25 March 2003. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  12. ^ "Arsenal sink brave Blades". BBC Sport. 13 April 2003. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  13. ^ McCarra, Kevin (14 April 2003). "Super Seaman defies time and gravity to end Blades odyssey". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  14. ^ "Saints thrash Spurs". BBC Sport. 4 January 2003. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  15. ^ "Last-gasp Saints deny Lions". BBC Sport. 25 January 2003. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  16. ^ "Saints tame Lions". BBC Sport. 13 February 2003. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  17. ^ "Saints see off Norwich". BBC Sport. 5 February 2003. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  18. ^ "Lundekvam eyes FA Cup glory". BBC Sport. 16 February 2003. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  19. ^ Brodkin, Jon (10 March 2003). "Super Wolves softened up by old boy Marsden". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  20. ^ "Saints tame Wolves". BBC Sport. 9 March 2003. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  21. ^ Davies, Christopher (14 April 2003). "Ormerod destroys Watford dream". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
  22. ^ Hayward, Paul (17 May 2003). "Saints marching on the giants". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
  23. ^ a b "Touts selling tickets at 10 times value". South Wales Echo. Cardiff. 7 May 2003. p. 7.
  24. ^ a b c Leitch, Adam (26 April 2003). "25,000 tickets for Saints' Cardiff army". Daily Echo. Southampton.
  25. ^ Pratt, Harry (7 May 2003). "Lowe blasts ticket fiasco". Daily Star. London. p. 71.
  26. ^ a b Brodkin, Jon (8 May 2003). "Arsenal star in Cup dress rehearsal". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
  27. ^ Strachan, Gordan (11 May 2003). "Price of victory may be lack of spectacle". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
  28. ^ "Opera singer to kick off the FA Cup Final". South Wales Echo. Cardiff. 15 May 2003. p. 26.
  29. ^ Wiechula, Frank (18 May 2003). "FA Cup final: Day roof fell in on the Saints". The People. London. p. 6.
  30. ^ Brodkin, Jon (16 May 2003). "Able Seaman is captain for final". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  31. ^ Stammers, Steve (13 May 2003). "Wenger left with defence worries". Evening Standard. London. p. 63.
  32. ^ West, Lee (16 May 2003). "FA Cup countdown: Arsenal v Southampton". Daily Mirror. London. p. 68.
  33. ^ Winter, Henry (19 May 2003). "Arsenal counter friendly fire". The Daily Telegraph. London. p. B2.
  34. ^ a b c d e "Arsenal leads Southampton 1–0 at half time of FA Cup final". AP Worldstream. Cardiff: Associated Press. 17 May 2003. Archived from the original on 11 June 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2013. (subscription required)
  35. ^ Wilson, Paul (18 May 2003). "Pires aim is true for muted Gunners". The Observer. London. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  36. ^ a b "Arsenal 1, Southampton 0". Evening Gazette. Middlesbrough. 17 May 2003. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  37. ^ a b c d e f MacLeary, John (17 May 2003). "Arsenal v Southampton: minute-by-minute". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  38. ^ May, John (18 May 2003). "Henry's debt to Bergkamp". BBC Sport. Retrieved 23 April 2009.
  39. ^ Lipton, Martin (19 May 2003). "1–0 to the Arsenal ... At last ; Arsenal 1 Soton 0". Daily Mirror. London. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  40. ^ a b "Keown hails 'best ever' win". BBC Sport. 17 May 2003. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
  41. ^ "Arsenal were worthy winners". BBC Sport. 17 May 2003. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
  42. ^ "Who qualifies to play in Europe?". Premier League. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  43. ^ "FA Cup final: Arsenal v Southampton". The Guardian. London. 17 May 2003. p. B3.
  44. ^ a b "Ratings – FA Cup's big gunners shoot to win on BBC1". Broadcast. London. 23 May 2003. Retrieved 4 January 2013.

External links[edit]