Ex-Pompey star Taylor on facing Invincibles in FA Cup and ‘unplayable’ Henry

first_imgTHE LAST time Portsmouth hosted Arsenal in the FA Cup, Matt Taylor experienced a career first.It was March 2004, and 21,000 fans were on their feet towards the end of the quarter-final at Fratton Park.3 Matt Taylor was a consistent presence at the back for Portsmouth over a six year periodCredit: PA:Press Association3 He met his match when Thierry Henry came to Fratton Park in the FA Cup in 2004Credit: ReutersBut the love and adulation was not for one of their own. Instead, for one away player in particular as he made his way off the pitch – Thierry Henry.Taylor, who had the unfortunate task of marking the Frenchman until his substitution in the 72nd minute, admitted: “He fully deserved it.“Football fans have a great affinity to their own club but sometimes you just need to applaud brilliance and that evening they were well within their rights to give that gesture.“Thierry was unplayable. It was just a shame that I was at left back and he kept drifting over to my side.”The pair almost came to blows after 20 minutes after a small scuffle in the corner, resulting in Taylor waggling his finger in the face of Henry.Taylor laughs: “Being physical was the only way I could stop him, and hope the officials would give me a hand! He would always give some back too.“But it would be incorrect to say he was a ‘nasty’ player – he had an edge as all the best players do, but he was also exceptionally talented.“And that night, we just couldn’t stop him.“I have never been that sort of guy to ask opposition players for their shirts after games, unless I know them. But I do look back now, especially in that game.“Just think of all the names I would have hung up around my house!”’THEY WERE HUGE!’Arsenal would go on to knock five past Pompey that night in a 5-1 victory; Henry and Freddie Ljungberg grabbing two each along with a Kolo Toure header.It was just one of many impressive victories for the Gunners that year as they were annointed the Invincibles at the end of the season for their unbeaten Premier League campaign.Taylor, who is now coach of Tottenham’s U18s, continued: “Standing in the cramped Fratton Park tunnel and just looking at the size and stature of them, I had never seen anything like it. They were huge.“But they weren’t just big lumps, they were exceptional footballers and athletes and were quicker and stronger than we were.“At that time, we had a very good Pompey outfit. The likes of Teddy Sheringham and Yakubu under manager Harry Redknapp.“But we were the underdogs and quite rightly so. We gave it everything and came away with nothing.”3 Pompey will have to overcome a Mikel Arteta Arsenal side that could include Pierre-Emerick AubameyangCredit: EPAPompey have fallen from great heights since that night, dropping as far down as League One, but look to be moving forward under Kenny Jackett.They are currently on a 10-game winning streak in all competitions at Fratton Park.An upset against Mikel Arteta’s struggling Arsenal – a world away from the Invincible heroes – in the fifth round would put them on course for an historic season of their own.And just like that night 16 years ago, the south coast side will have to contain an imposing front line that could include the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe.Taylor, who made almost 180 appearances during a six-year spell with Pompey, said: “These Portsmouth players will need no encouragement.most read in sportTHROUGH ITRobbie Keane reveals Claudine’s father was ’50-50′ in coronavirus battle’I ACCEPT’McGregor accepts Silva fight at UFC catchweight of 176lbs in huge super-fightTOP SELLERGavin Whelan has gone from League of Ireland to David Beckham’s InstagramPicturedA CUT ABOVEMike Tyson shows two-inch cut ‘picked up in training’ ahead of boxing returnPicturedAN EYEFULMeet Playboy model and football agent Anamaria Prodan bidding to buy her own clubI SAW ROORodallega saw Rooney ‘drinking like madman’ & Gerrard ‘on bar dancing shirtless’ExclusiveRIYAD RAIDMan City’s Riyad Mahrez has three luxury watches stolen in £500,000 raidNEXT STEPJonny Hayes set to move to English Championship having been let go by CelticIT’S…NOT TOMMY BOWETommy Bowe discovers someone has been impersonating him on TinderMAC DADDYTriple H wants McGregor v McMahon with winner getting rights to billionaire strut“They know how much the Cup means to the club and the fans. Are Arsenal favourites? Yes.“But if you look at Portsmouth and their season so far, they are in the best form they could possibly be in. They will take heart from that.“They need to use Fratton Park – it is not a ground that teams look forward to playing at.“It is a free hit for them and they will definitely be given chances in the game. It truly would be one of the great FA Cup upsets.”Darren Gough argues over whether Arsenal’s Aubameyang can be considered World Classlast_img read more