By Walter Broeckx
Sometimes you don’t believe what you see with your own eyes. That was after 36 minutes. Arsenal 4-0 down after what must have been the worst 36 minutes of an Arsenal team. The midfielders didn’t pressure the Reading players, the defenders didn’t attack the players or the ball. Reading went deservedly 1-0 up. And then Reading got a bit lucky. A cross deflected from the knee of Koscielny in to his own net. Those things happen. But this was not the right time for such a thing to happen.
And a bit later Arsenal let a Reading player wander in the penalty area without really attacking him and his shot was punched in his own goal by Martinez. I think he will have wanted to disappear under the ground the young Argentinean keeper. That didn’t look good at all.
And after that we slowly got our act together. But it was just playing the ball around with no real intent or threat. Arshavin was running his socks off and trying to bring some order in to our game. But he was preaching on an island at that moment. And when Reading made it 4-0 all seemed lost. One of my sons who was just leaving asked me: do you really keep watching to this? Of course I said: this is Arsenal. This is my team. In good or bad. I’m here (in a manner of speaking of course as I was at home watching on my computer) to support them.
And how I regret not adding what I was thinking at that time. I was thinking: one goal and we can still win this game. But even for me as a super optimist most of the time..that was one bridge too far at that moment.
And then when Arshavin sent Theo away seconds before the end of the first half I thought to myself: Come on Theo, score and we are back in to this game. And blimey ..he did. What a nice finish.
So in we went and out we came and the first minutes Reading was strong. But then we brought on Giroud and Eisfeld. And allow me to say that I really think that Giroud was the man that turned the game completely on his head. From the moment he came on he looked sharp and he was determined to get it right. He came close a few times and used his body and his power very well. And then a Theo corner and Giroud headed in superbly. 4-2 Still some 25 minutes to go. And Arsenal did all they could to pull another one back.
But chances were missed, the ref tried to stop us at all means by within seconds judging two similar situations completely differently and both against Arsenal. That was his clear pattern and the way he laughed and joked with the Reading players it looked as if he had a lot of friends over there on the field. But let us not waste our time on the ref; at least not now.
With almost normal time up we got another corner and lo and behold this time Koscielny headed home to make it 4-3. Can you believe that at that moment in the game I just felt proud. We were not winning this game but I felt proud for the way we had come back after that disaster of a first half.
Reading was wasting time (no card for them time wasting from the ref) but even he felt that enough was enough (and rightfully so) and after another substitution in injury time he gave us the deserved extra time.
And then came an extra ordinary moment…Giroud headed the ball to Walcott who took it with him and shot past the keeper. A Reading player stopped the ball on the goal line with his hand, the ball went further and went over the line but neither the assistant or the ref gave a goal or a penalty. Lucky Jenkinson put it over the line but that is what the reporters told me about who scored at that moment. I always look on mute but turn the sound on when something strange has happened. Later it looked as if the ref had given the goal from Walcott?
In extra time chances on both sides in the most crazy game of football you will ever see. And after 13 minutes the unexpected happened. A nice move involving Arshavin once again and Chamakh got the ball outside the penalty area and his low shot went in. 4-5 to the Arsenal.
But this game wasn’t over yet. Just, but only just onside Pogrebnyak headed home the 5-5 with 5 minutes to go. This game was more than crazy. This was the ultimate and most open football game I have ever seen. Both teams almost running on their knees but both looking for the win.
And then Arshavin went past his man on the left and he could have pulled it back first time but the little Russian wanted to score himself and he would have but his shot was saved on the line. But the ball came out to Walcott who lashed it home. 5-6 in the last minute of extra time.
Reading again threw all they had forward but Martinez claimed the cross and then he made almost a big mistake and made Wenger angry by releasing the ball with a long punt up to Giroud but the ball ended up with the keeper and Reading could go forward again. But Arsenal cleared the ball and as Giroud came back from offside he cleverly didn’t make any attempt to go to the ball and so Chamakh could go on goal and with a nice lob put the ball over the keeper. 5-7 in the 122th minute.
WHAT A GAME!
I know people will moan about the first half hour. Yes that was bad. But a game is played over 90 minutes. And when you can get up from 4-0 down to even come close again you have done yourself proud I feel. And when you can equalise you have done a very remarkable thing and that without any help from the ref!
But when you can win such a game after having been 4-0 down, then you have produced a miracle. I have seen a miracle with my own eyes today.
After 89 minutes I felt proud of my team for having put up a fight after such a bad start and some silly mistakes and own goals. I can’t really describe the pride feelings I feel for this moment. My English isn’t good enough for this.
Just say my oh my, oh what a night, late October 2012… well done boys. Very well done!
PS: But please next time think of our poor heart will you. Just score the goals without conceding. Thanks.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- “The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal”: crowd behaviour at the early matches