The Emirates FA Cup

When Sutton drew Arsenal in the 5th Round of the FA Cup, the media began buzzing about the numerous plot lines. Wealthy versus working class, potential for one of the greatest upsets ever, and so forth. But one overlooked plot was settling a long-running public health debate on whether smoking is in fact good for you.

In this match are two diametrically opposed managers on the smoking issue. The away side features the legendary Arsenal Wenger, who upon his arrival in London decades ago revolutionized the way players took care of their bodies. No longer was it acceptable for players to go out, eat steaks, smoke, and drink all night. Health food was introduced as well as careful monitoring of player diets.

Wenger, though, goes beyond just encouraging his players to eat healthy. The Frenchman loathes smoking. He hates it so much that’s he is not afraid to punish players for doing it. Example A is The Once and Future Midfield King Jack Wilshere. Jack has been caught on camera three times with some sort of smoking device, most recently in 2015 with a shisha pipe at a club. Undoubtedly this contributed to his need to go on loan. Example B may be more relevant – Wojciech Szczesny. The Polish keeper decided after a particularly bad Arsenal match that he needed to light up a cig in the shower. This infuriated his manager and now he is in Rome trying to hang on to the starting XI shirt there. His play may have contributed just as much, but taking a few puffs no doubt helped.

On the other bench is Sutton gaffer Paul Doswell. He’s an all-around great guy according to the media as well as a throwback to a bygone era. During Sutton’s third-round defeat of Wimbledon, television cameras caught him vaping while the match was still scoreless. They did not catch him in the tunnel or behind a bush, but rather on the team bench in clear view of fans, players, and the public.

Vaping or smoking e-cigarettes is generally regarded as cleaner than cigarettes. However, the health risks are still unknown, to the point that airlines prohibit their use while in flight. Obviously they are no prohibited at Gander Green lane. The gaffer, however, was not caught with the offending device during Sutton’s defeat of Leeds, raising the question of whether the device was a one-time tactical gambit or the man just needed a smoke.

This 5th Round tie thusly shapes up as one for the ages. Will Doswell try to unnerve Wenger by breaking out his vapor pipe during the pre-match handshake? Or will he save it for when his team goes ahead and he lighters it up Red Auerbach victory celebration style. Regardless, if Sutton do pull the upset, we may need to rethink if there are not ANY positive side effects to vaping.