Monday 9th November 2015
Like every Gooner I want to beat that lot down the road every time we meet. Every single time. But do you know what, going into the International break, yesterday’s result is certainly no disaster.
Munich away, like pretty much every European away trip, especially in Germany, was a ‘heavy’ old few days. And as a result I headed into the weekend seriously feeling it. Aches, pains, sore eyes, UDIs, lethargy and general misery!
Sleeping by a cool swimming pool in the sunshine would have been perfection. But work and normal life stuff got in the way. How dare it?! 😉
Football is the ‘norm’ in my life as well. But playing against that lot never feels like the ‘norm’. Season after season, year after year, it never changes (except in the mid seventies when they got relegated of course). But they don’t like to talk about that. Nor the 54 years since they last won the league of course. Or our 13 league titles to their 2……etc etc etc.
Back in April 1984 we welcomed them to Highbury after already beating them twice that season on their own patch. A 2-1 league victory was followed by a nice Christmas 4-2 spanking where I remember ‘Jingle Bells, jingle Bells, jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to see Arsenal win away” echoing into the sky from the away end. It was important we joined in with the whole Christmas spirit thing you see.
After visiting Wembley in 3 successive seasons we were very much going through a rebuilding process and developing and relying on our successful youth set up to launch our next assault on English football. Those days came just a few seasons later when George arrived and have pretty much remained ever since. Tottenham however, were still very much crowing about their early eighties FA Cup successes and telling the football world how they were ready to end that long long wait to win a league title. That, surprise surprise, never materialised.
In a relatively non productive league season for both clubs, those derby days took on even more importance (if that’s possible!) and having won the previous two it was a fine opportunity to complete a memorable 1983/84 season treble.
On a warm and atmospheric Easter day I watched the game from the standing enclosure in front of the West Stand, reserved at that time for Junior Gunners, a membership I held when just about young enough in it’s fledgling years. As well as all the other memorabilia and benefits membership included, it meant I could get in for £1!
Not all derbys live up to the hype but this was certainly one such occasion. Stuart Robson and two memorable goals by Tony Woodcock and Charlie Nicholas completed that treble as part of a 3-2 victory and made for a very Happy Easter.
Coming back to the present day other games have an ‘edge’ to them. But nothing like this one. And you could feel that in and around the stadium as kick-off approached just like back in 1984.
We knew we had been on a good run. But so have our visitors. And with many players missing right now it made it a hugely difficult game and result to predict.
We started fantastically well against Man Utd a few weeks back and added 3 great goals to our dominance. The first 20 minutes on Sunday was similar……but without the goals for our hard work. And that formed an accurate pattern for the game as a whole. Our best spells were in the first 20 mins of the 1st half, and the first and last 15 minutes of the second. And during those periods we did not make our chances tell, the usual combination of woodwork, goalkeeper and poor finishing keeping us out.
Our visitors on the other hand did get their goal during one of the two periods where they were on top.
We looked tired at times, almost a little ragged but we dug in when it mattered most and got something from the game. Hugely important not only on the day but it takes us into what for the first time I can remember is a welcome international break sitting joint top of the league. On that basis and considering how both the day and the game panned out, all in all a draw is ok. Not outstanding, but ok, especially as we were still losing with time running out.
Our visitors had their own chances in the second period too so it could have been a worse day. But it could have been better too.
Once this fortnight away from the domestic side to the beautiful game comes to a close we head to The Hawthorns next, another away day that is always enjoyable off the pitch. A win and it will make sure that enjoyment is graced with even more satisfaction of course.
Enjoy the break.