Firstly Thank You to Dev for writing my Wednesday column. Leaving the game on Tuesday night, I realised very quickly my head and emotions were in no fit state to put words on ‘paper’. (Plus I don’t think you all wanted another picture blog!)
So where to start, the beginning? Good idea.
The last time I blogged I wrote:
I am wound up, I am embarrassed, I want change but I want what’s best for my club. I only have one football club and while I and my Arsenal are in existence, I will always get behind them and fully support them from the bottom of my heart….
They say form is temporary but class is permanent, well it is seriously time to react now. This Sunday’s game is the biggest game in our recent history. Win and stay 4th.. lose… losing isn’t an option worth thinking about.
First up, Tottenham:
Walking into the pub I was very nervous, seeing all the usual faces slightly stone faced and bravely smiling, I knew I wasn’t the only one. Friends were openly saying how they would have taken a draw and defeat could be damning.
With that in mind, we were two down in just over 30mins and when Bale managed to stay on his feet (for once) and fired in a cross come shot that went wide, I wanted to leave. I had a horrible sinking feeling and I didn’t want to be in the stadium anymore, I just wanted out. And then it clicked. The Sagna goal, the reaction to get the ball and march back to the centre spot set the determined tone for the whole team. Within 3mins we were level. When RVP curled that ball in, the stadium roared loud enough to make sure everyone in N17 knew, North London is our domain. If anyone has watching the ‘Derby day’ video on Arsenal player, they will have seen my cousin and me celebrating the goal together. It meant a lot and still does.
In the second half we smelt blood; Rosicky got the crucial goal his performance deserved. Before we could even get nervous about holding a single goal lead, Walcott delivered two fantastic finishes in three minutes. I really couldn’t believe what was unfolding in front of my eyes. I wanted to scream, I wanted sing, I wanted to cry. I think I may have done all three. The Arsenal stood up and were counted during their biggest time of reckoning. Even at two down I never thought we were being outplayed, that’s why it hurt even more. Derby victories are to be enjoyed not over analysed. Living in a world of blogging, twitter and facebook, everything is analysed and criticised to death and for that reason I just wanted to blog a simple picture last Wednesday, just enjoy!
I travelled up to Liverpool with a bit of a bounce in my step, oddly confident and probably still a bit drunk from the previous Sunday night! We named the same team so we should be entitled to the same kind of performance right? Erm no!
We were played off the park from the first minute. Liverpool were hunting the ball down in packs, they wanted to pick up on mistakes and get the ball in behind our stretched and bullied midfield. After a couple of near misses, the referee was conned into giving a penalty after a Suarez dive and play act. It’s such a pity the Oscars were the week before as I was in row 1 about 5m from the incident. There looked to be little contact but Suarez was screaming and beating the floor like he’d suffered an injury similar to Ramsey or Eduardo. The winning oscar part of the performance was limping away while the penalty was being lined up. Move over Charlie Chaplin.
We all know what happened next. Szcz showed the world why I think he’s going to be one of the best out there. The penalty save, ok pretty good but when he stood up again he looked like a punch drunk boxer, he was agile and reactive enough to fling himself across the goal to save a certain goal again from Kuyt. Amazing. He not only shocked the Liverpool fans but the scoreboard too. I oddly looked at the scoreboard after the first save and I noticed it had been changed to ‘Liverpool 1 – 0 Arsenal’. Oops.
Their goal simply and frustratingly came from a simple cross but Szcz didnt call for it and Koscielny flew in for a great finish, but just the wrong net. Yet again Arsenal reacted. A beautiful cross by Sagna was met by an RVP header. 1-1 half time.
We really created little in the second half and I had accepted Liverpool would go on and win the game. The goal never came; they missed chances as the tension spread through the ground. Then the moment came after the 90mins. Song pinged the ball over the head of Carragher and I still can see RVP adjusting his body, eyes locked onto the ball… side foot… GOAL! I was stunned. Gob smacked. See the picture below. I’m the shocked guy, bottom left in one!!
Liverpool fans were rightly aggrieved but it’s been a season of hell for us so I didn’t have much sympathy. I really didn’t care we didn’t play well; we won a massive game and left Liverpool 11 points behind us. To put it into perspective, we were sitting 7th after losing to Man Utd, behind Newcastle, Chelsea and Liverpool. We are now 4 points behind the Spuds talking about catching 3rd place. Nothing is secured yet but it really is ours to lose.
Dev has analysed the game already so all I will say is that Tuesday night was one of my proudest moments as an Arsenal fan. Maybe a bit knee jerk but the players went toe to toe with the Italian champions in a challenge that looked impossible. While all the fans may have not, the players believed. Koscielny’s goal in the 6th minute, Rosicky in the 23rd and then RVP’s penalty in the 43rd created an atmosphere the new stadium had never experienced. At the half time whistle the fans were up on their feet singing the players off the pitch, the player looked around in amazement, it was amazing. We ran out of steam in the second half and a part of me is oddly relieved RVP never scored the chance he had as I didn’t believe we had the legs to score the 5th and extra time would have been more damaging in the league than it would have been worth.
On the night, Rosicky (again) and Koscielny were brilliant. But so were AOC, Vermaelen, Theo, RVP and Song. Oh I forgot Szcz and Bacs. Gibbs and Gervinho had their moments but they were part of a very proud night. Valiant in defeat. That’s not the Arsenal way is it?!
Next up Newcastle at home. I’m not naïve enough to believe the hard work is done. What we have done is put ourselves in a very advantageous position to secure a return to the Champions League and after Tuesday night, I want to go back, actually I never want to leave.
Enjoy your Thursday.
Ps; Hello Mickeal!
PPS; Have we signed Poldoski? Looks like it!