A New Emotion
Thursday 16th February 2017
Wembley 1978 and again in 1980 along with Brussels just a few days later I remember being disappointed. But I was a little too young to feel any other emotion. Losing to Luton in 1988 always springs to mind when trying to remember the first time I felt genuinely gutted. And of course there have been other times too, Liverpool robbing us down in Cardiff, Bergkamp’s penalty miss at Villa Park and a couple of trips to Paris to name but a few.
But, in 40 years of support, I don’t ever remember experiencing the feeling of total and utter deflation after last night.
Trip wise it has been fantastically entertaining as always, no shock when visiting a city that never fails on that front.
Arriving around about rush hour on Tuesday evening there was always only going to be one thing on the agenda and an establishment that we have been in so many times now that it almost feels like a ‘local’ played host until the wee small hours. A fine start.
Matchday arrived graced with beautiful sunshine and consequently the city was full of people enjoying the local wares al fresco. That of course included the usual travelling army of Gooners spread far and wide inside and outside one of the many bierkellers. A good atmosphere full of anticipation if not exuberant confidence.
Actually getting into some stadia amazes me. The Allianz is one of the world’s greatest modern sporting arenas. An incredible sight as you approach and equally impressive inside. But getting through the turnstiles, for both home and away fans was unnecessarily slow, difficult and chaotic.
We had been warned that we would all have our photo ID checked and this could take some time. But that bit took no more than seconds and caused no delays or problems. But actually getting through the turnstiles, in a modern stadium, in a country known for its clockwork efficiency was ridiculously difficult and meant many, even having arrived in what should be ample time, missed the kick-off.
Normally when we get beat you can pinpoint particular incidents or moments that could have been different. Mistakes, bad luck, that kind of thing. But our second half performance last night was like something you see in a school playground.
None of us were shocked that our hosts completely dominated the first half possession. Defending well and trying to make the most of opportunities on the break were not unexpected tactics. And short of an absolute worldy we did that pretty well I felt. In fact after we equalised we enjoyed our best spell and could and arguably should have taken the lead.
So, at half time we found ourselves in a better position than before a ball was kicked.
Then, Laurent limped off and basically we collapsed.
Of course we can all scratch our heads as to just how we fell apart but more alarming was the fact we appeared to just give up. At 3-1 down we were still in the tie. Yet we looked like a team already defeated.
Since mid December we have lost 5 times. That period includes a last minute penalty win at home to Burnley and having to come from 3 nil down to scrape a point at Bournemouth. That form speaks for itself. And consequently losing last night was more likely than not. But the manner of the defeat was very very worrying.
Drowning your sorrows until nearly 4am is not big or clever. But I almost felt I had no choice.
It almost has an ‘end of an era’ feel today. And I genuinely have never felt like that since Georgie Graham departed.
So what happens next? Well, first things first we need to show Sutton United some respect and put in a performance that sees us into the FA Cup quarter final.
We are Arsenal.
We’ll come again.