Sunday 3rd April 2016
Any hope of winning the League this season is of course very thin. Totally out of our hands we can only do one thing. Win our games. Saturday afternoon was certainly a good start.
Watford’s visit back in December 1983 was a memorable day for a couple of reasons. In a largely forgettable season we approached Christmas in the lower reaches of the league and shortly prior to this game manager Terry Neill parted company with the club. The familiar ‘message from the chairman’ replaced the usual manager’s notes on page 3 of the programme and Don Howe took charge of the team, a temporary role that became permanent before George Graham joined in the Summer of 1986.
In other areas of the programme Gus Caesar ‘lashed home a 35-yard thunderbolt’ in the FA Youth Cup whilst Gunner on Parade Stewart Robson described how he enjoys ‘switching round the stations on his car radio’ in his Volvo!
Elsewhere Gary Lewin was awaiting his physiotherapy exam results from Guys Hospital and probably the most famous referee of his era Clive Thomas would be officiating that afternoon it what was his final season.
On the pitch it was to prove a memorable game for young striker Raphael Meade. Graham Taylor’s team containing the likes of John Barnes and Mo Johnston proved no match as Raph grabbed a hat-trick in a 3-1 win.
It was to prove a relatively happy Christmas for us Gooners, a 4-2 win at White Hart Lane on Boxing Day meaning we had won there twice that season but there was little more to celebrate in what was definitely a transitional period for our club.
If the clocks changing over the Easter weekend was the first indication that Summer is on its way the weather in London N5 was definitely another sign.
Despite the glorious sunshine however, I felt the atmosphere in the pub and surrounding streets was quite subdued to be honest. Probably as good an indication as any that none of us are confident that a league title is still within reach.
Some games the vocal support and general atmosphere can definitely help. On occasion however, it can be the team that lifts the spirits rather than the other way round. And the way we came out of the blocks it was definitely one of those.
Some of our football was superb at times and when we didn’t have the ball we were good too, much as we were up at Goodison 2 weeks ago.
Our achilles heel at various times this season has been not turning our considerable dominance and possession into goals. Watford’s last visit was the perfect example and could not possibly have been more costly as we all know.
But Saturday, that crucial side to any game accompanied the rest of our play in what was overall a fine performance.
Alex Iwobi’s was probably the pick of our 4 goals, slotting home after a fantastic passing move.
We need to keep winning and hope the 2 teams above us drop points. One of them did that this weekend so with the latest round of matches complete we are in a slightly better position.
Without being disrespectful to the Hornets (especially given they knocked us out of the cup!) West Ham away next week is a far more daunting fixture than Saturday. And of those of us in the upper reaches of the league our game will be the first to take place.
It will be tough as we know but if we can come away with another three points it will mean the others around us will be under pressure to match our result.
It is also of course our last ever visit to the Boleyn Ground (or Upton Park as we usually call it). Like Highbury it is a stadium that oozes history, tradition and atmosphere, located amongst terraced houses.
And Saturday lunchtime we will walk those streets and go through those turnstiles for the final time.
And to walk back out again with three points has to be our aim.
Come on you yellows!