Here’s to you…..back to the eighties
Thursday 24th September 2015
Let’s be honest, if we were told before this season started we would go to the Lane in a cup tie and Matty Flamini would smash in a 20 yard volley to put us through, there would have been very few of us who were not laughing.
Well…..it happened. Pick that out!!
Writing these notes sat on a ferry at 7am on Thursday morning is enough to tell you it’s been a long old night. But although it is only the 3rd round of a competition that has become hugely popular for utilising both youngsters and the full extent of the 1st team squad, nights like that are why we all do it.
Although alive and on the planet I don’t remember the 1971 double. The 1979 FA Cup win is in the memory bank but in 1987 I saw our great club win their first trophy as an adult. And for that reason alone the League Cup remains very special personally. The noise, sound, colour and emotion of that sunny April afternoon will forever be with me.
Kenny Sansom produced a diary of that season and funnily enough I have been reading it in recent days. It certainly brings everything about that success flooding back and it included of course, a nice little 2-1 semi final replay win at the Lane.
It was the second time we had done that to them in the space of a few months and it felt hugely important in North London, almost the start of something big. I remember a huge great big 2-1 piece of graffiti on the side of a building (located at the junction of Stapleton Hall Road and Stroud Green Road for those with local knowledge). History confirms we were right to be optimistic with the next few years being trophy laden.
The League Cup is a strange competition these days. Low on the priority list but still an awful lot of fun on occasion. And last night was definitely one of those.
Just a few seasons back we beat them 4-1 in a similar stage of the competition but I remember it being a very low key night, despite the enjoyment of a spanking good win in their back yard.
This time round had much more of a big cup tie feel about it, both on and off the field. Progression felt far more important and there was that air of tension heading to the ground you only ever get in derby games.
All was relatively quiet when I headed through the turnstiles just after 7pm but from what I understand it was a little bit ‘lively’ in other areas in the build up to kick off. Hardly unexpected or unusual at a big derby of course.
With ten changes from Saturday Mr Wenger had set himself up for a possible grilling had we lost our 3rd game on the bounce. Nobody can ever say however, that he doesn’t show the utmost belief in his squad.
Brave? Maybe. Risky? Possibly. Naive. Depends if it works!! Overall probably a combination of all aspects.
It’s also a good indication of our squad depth that even with so many changes it still looked a pretty strong line up.
We started the game well I thought and always looked the most likely to score, Matty Flamini slamming in the rebound from the Ox’s strike seeing the first of the evening’s intense and crazy jostles in the away end.
A good start then, but with over an hour still to play that’s all it was.
The most crucial part of the game for me came in the first 20 minutes of the second period.
Our hosts expectedly came at us in the early stages but their equaliser was laced with a big chunk of fortune. It left us however, on the back foot and it was massive that we steadied the ship and dug in for a while, Gibbo’s header of the line a good example of that.
Once we took the sting out of the situation, it was time to go on and win the game.
Heading into the last quarter of an hour we were looking more and more dangerous. But the goal almost came out of nothing.
A half cleared Arsenal attack looped up into the air and Matty Flamini tried something that can lead to a slice, an effort woefully wide or even an embarrassing air shot.
On this occasion however, with perfect technique, he couldn’t possibly have caught it any better.
Bang! Get in you beauty.
Scoring a 20 yard stoomer to win a cup tie away at the Lane in front of the travelling Gooners. It’s what dreams are made of.
And did we jostle?! It was absolute and utter carnage 🙂
“Here’s to you, Matthieu Flamini, Arsenal loves you more than you will know, woh oh oh oh”……echoed into the night sky as everyone bounced up and down in unison.
A memorable and deserved winner on a memorable night.
Back in the eighties being ‘kept in’ after the final whistle was the norm at away games. Various reasons down the years have meant that is not the case any more.
Last night it was back.
We can argue all night long as to whether it was necessary and/or the right decision but although inconvenient to all those of us with tight transport schedules (and work in the morning), being part of a 3 thousand strong Gooner throng being marched up Tottenham High Road after winning in their own back yard was amusing if nothing else.
And the fact for those of us not interested in getting involved in a ‘tear up’ it was pretty safe too, overall it is difficult to argue against the decision.
A thoroughly entertaining Wednesday night then and it’s off to Sheffield for the next instalment.
Half way to that destination is Leicester of course and it is here we head next to take on Sven’s men. Their great start is comfortably enough to suggest it will be yet another tough test.
For now however, I will leave you with my thought of the day…..if a spurs fan tries to soften the blow of his last 24 hours by advising that ‘it was only the League cup’, remind them that is the only trophy they have won in the last 24 years.
That should do it.
See you in Leicester.