Swansea City's Leon Britton eager to make up for past cup failings
LEON Britton's Swansea City success story is one well known in these parts — but he hasn't had much FA Cup glory to celebrate recently.
Swansea have won only one game in the competition in the last three seasons and were knocked out by lowly Leyton Orient two years ago.
That's not to say the midfielder has no positive experiences of the tournament to reflect upon.
There was a memorable away win at then top-flight Portsmouth four years ago followed by defeat after an epic fifth-round clash with Fulham.
That was the second time Britton had reached that stage with Swansea, though his maiden voyage to the last 16 proved more arduous.
In the 2004-05 season Brian Flynn's bottom division side entered the competition at round one and came within a whisker of reaching the quarter-finals.
Victories over Rushden & Diamonds, Stevenage and Macclesfield handed Swansea a home tie with Preston, two rungs above them on the league ladder.
After falling behind, goals from Andy Robinson and Lee Trundle in the last ten minutes saw them humble their much-fancied opponents and book an away match with third-tier Tranmere.
Swansea took the lead through Robinson at Prenton Park, but eventually slipped to a 2-1 defeat as Alan Tate was sent off.
"That was the fifth round, the one before the quarters," remembered Britton.
"We played Tranmere, but at that time Swansea came in at the first round so you're not talking about coming in at the third, winning a couple of games and getting to the fifth.
"Tranmere beat us 2-1 I think and that's the furthest I've got.
"We've progressed to the Capital One Cup semis now — it would be nice to progress in the FA Cup and get as far as possible.
"It would be a great achievement to get to the latter stages. I'd love to do that, but it would be a great achievement for everyone involved at the football club to try and keep on improving and keep on progressing."
With Swansea looking like comfortably ensuring Premier League survival, thoughts have turned to what else may be achieved this season.
A Capital One Cup semi-final with Chelsea offers the opportunity of a Wembley appearance and the chance to claim a trophy.
And a run in the FA Cup provides another opportunity to compete for top honours.
"We're not a team that's realistically going to be challenging for the Premier League so cup competitions give you the opportunity to try and win some major silverware," said Britton.
"We're in the cup semi against Chelsea and now the FA Cup starts against Arsenal.
"We want to go on a good cup run. You go through the first round, things sometimes open up and you can go all the way."
Last season Swansea were beaten at Bolton in the fourth round of the FA Cup after crashing to a humiliating defeat to bottom division Shrewsbury in their opening League Cup game.
"Last year we didn't do too well in the cups, but then coming up for our first season in the Premier League, our main priority was to stay in the league," said Britton.
"We're in the second season now and doing well in the league, so the target is to do well in the cup competitions as well.
"To reach a semi-final so far is a great achievement, but obviously we want to beat Chelsea and get to the final."
Swansea entertain Arsenal just a month after beating them at the Emirates Stadium when Michu struck twice in the dying minutes to secure a wonderful 2-0 triumph.
Arsenal enjoyed something of a revival after that, but drew 1-1 at Southampton on Tuesday.
"It's not a case of them looking for revenge, they've got some good wins since we beat them," said Britton.
"They'll just concentrate on trying to do well and win the game.
"They know it's a tough game just like we know it's a very tough game against them. A few years ago, if you'd said Arsenal at home in the cup we'd have been over the moon.
"Now we play these teams week in, week out in the Premier League and we've drawn them in the cup.
"This is where you want to be, playing your football against these top teams, whether it be in the cup or the league.
"It shows how far the club have progressed. It's great for all the players to be involved in, especially those that have been here for a good few years. It's great to reap the rewards."