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Two lessons for Arsenal – how European games can be turned around

by Andrew Crawshaw and Tony Attwood

Part 1: Andrew’s memory

On 18 March 2010, I was lucky to go with my friend Mark to Craven Cottage to witness one of the best comebacks ever in European Football.  It was an EUROPA League last 16 second leg with Fulham having lost in Juventus by 3 – 1.

It was also a match which none of the Fulham supporters expected to win.

The match started badly for Fulham with David Trezuget scoring in the first three minutes to make the aggregate score four one.  That incident seemed to me to enrage the crowd and the Fulham players who somehow found another level.

Bobby Zamora equalised on the night shortly after the opening goal brushing aside World Cup winner Cannavaro before scoring from 10 yards out.

Fulham were attacking in waves and Zoltan Gera was brought down by Cannavaro in the 26th minute when through on goal, referee Bjorn Kuipers pulled out a red card for the Juve captain.  The free kick was tipped over the bar and the score remained 1 – 1 but all momentum was now with Fulham.  They struck the woodwork twice with shots that beat the keeper and the noise in the Cottage just got louder and louder.

In the 39th Minute Fulham were ahead on the night following an Arsenal-esque move featuring Zamora, Davies and Gera with a fine finish.

Four minutes into the second half Fulham levelled the tie, a clear handball prevented a cross from Duff reaching the waiting Fulham attackers and a penalty was duly awarded which Gera scored emphatically.

For a while the tempo relented until Fulham Manager Hodgson introduced Dempsey who nearly scored with his first touch, a header from a Davies cross, only to be denied by a great save by Chimenti in the Juve goal.  Dempsey didn’t have to wait long however scoring an absolute beauty.  He collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area and with the Juve defenders dropping off him he executed an exquisite chip over Clementi and into the far top corner of the goal.

The Fulham crowd were delirious and the Juve players totally dejected and resulted to kicking the shit out of Fulham for the remainder of the game.  Zebina was rightly sent off in added time for a kick at Duff.

Juve ended the night with nine players on the pitch and a further three on yellow cards.  Fulham won the tie 5 – 4 and went on to the final of the competition where they lost to Athletico.

If I were Arsène I would show the Arsenal squad the video of the match to show what can be achieved by a team given no hope against a team who, on paper at least, were supposed to be much better than them.  Fulham played above themselves that night and harassed Juve into all kinds of stupid errors – in fact they could well have won by a bigger margin.

Arsenal have far better players than those who played for Fulham that night.  Work together with belief and anything is possible.

Part Two – Tony’s memory

Obviously as a season ticket holder I go to home games – no matter what.  Because I live over 80 miles from the ground, sometimes in the winter the weather beats me (there is nothing worse than finding your train cancelled or the motorway blocked by ice as you try to get back home after midnight) but by and large I make it, no matter where we are in the league, no matter what the nay-sayers have just nay-said.  Away games are more occasional – and I don’t do overseas.

So it was that I watched Arsenal play Milan on 15 February 2012 on TV with the result Milan 4 Arsenal 0 in the Champions League.  Arsène Wenger was visibly annoyed by the performance of his team I recall.

The return game was on 6 March 2012. I don’t have Andrew’s wonderful memory for the detail, but I do remember thinking as I took the train to London that there might be a lot of empty seats around.  There were not – it was full – or at least that’s how I remember it.

But much more than that I remember the noise – an absolute outpouring of defiance, of saying “We are the Arsenal”, of willing our team to do something to redeem themselves.

In what seemed like no time at all we had got amazingly to Arsenal 3 Milan 0 at half time.  Laurent Koscielny headed home a corner and Tomas Rosicky took advantage of a nervous defence to nip in with the second.  Robin van Persie then scored a penalty.

I then remember thinking that if Arsenal got one more and it went to extra time I’d have to buy another ticket (since I normally buy a ticket for the 10.30pm train back, rather than the more expensive open ticket which allows return on any train).   Such strange thoughts always seem to nip through my head at odd moments.

As you’ll know, we didn’t make it and went out 4-3 overall, but as supporters we did our bit.  But such come backs do happen.   Real Mad overturned a four-goal deficit from the first leg of the Uefa Cup when they beat Borussia Monchengladbach in the last 16 of the 1985/86 competition by winning 4-0 at the Bernabeu after losing 5-1 in Germany.

Of course the newspapers, the TV, the bloggettas, they will all say no it is not possible, and maybe they will be right.  But I tell you something.  There is nothing like really, really, really supporting a team, no matter what.  That is something that they will never, ever understand, and they are lesser people for that.

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11 comments to Two lessons for Arsenal – how European games can be turned around

  • ARSENAL 13

    We also went out fighting against the same opponents on aggregate…. Remember. How Neuer… Slept over the ball after our goal which ended up in a bit of a tussle…….Koscielny had scored if I remember right…..

    Come on ARSENAL fight.

  • Top Guns

    Tony – I was there in 2012 and you are right it was a great night. Failure ultimately but glorious failure.

    Fast forward 5 years and here we are again.
    However it won’t be like that tonight. The fanbase has now had enough of glorious failure and who can blame them? We were supposed to have moved to the Emirates so that we could compete in these sort of matches.

    Well 11 years on from the move we are still waiting and if anything getting worse. Tonight is likely to be the last Champions League game at the club for some time. Sad how it has come to this.

  • Well at least they’ve got nothing to fear tonight , I imagine Bayern will look for an early goal to deflate crowd and Arsenal .
    I will take up my seat and hope for a united team performance with some of our players putting in a proper shift and maybe just maybe we can shock them with a couple of goals before they strike .Think most of us though have moved on to Saturday and Lincoln .

  • Leon

    To a lesser extent our Fairs Cup 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in 1970 was a reversal worth a mention. We were 3-1 down from the away first leg (our goal by Ray Kennedy) and required two at Highbury. In the event we got three and won our first trophy in seventeen years, and then went on to complete the double in the next season.
    I was there, but can only remember Jon Sammels goal late in the game.

  • Wow!! My dad haven’t even married my mama by then.. this is why I like visiting this page. I hear about Arsenal from veterans who have seen it all. #Respect sir.

  • Micko

    I remember that match and thinking at half time that we had them. But the second half was reffed totally differently to the first half. Every time there was any contact between an Arsenal player and a Milan player in the second half the ref blew up for a free kick to Milan. This totally destroyed our rhythm and ultimately out heart.
    If I remember correctly Wenger was furious with the ref and did he get in to trouble over it?

  • Josif

    If I may add an experience…

    Arsenal 2003-04. We lost the first group match to Inter 0:3 (joint worst home defeat in Europe) and were completely outplayed. Martins (yep, the Birmingham one who scored that goal in 2011 CC Final) hit the post when he should have made it 0:4. Henry had our best chance but missed a penalty.

    In the fifth group match we travelled to Italy with the group wide open. We drew the first blood but Vieri made it 1:1. We got our second goal and then, Henry toyed with Javier Zanetti for our third and two more goals later, Arsenal secured a better head-to-head record.

    I’d just add to Tony’s memory that RvP had a sitter of all sitters for 4:0 but made a lazy chip that Abbiati saved. Ibrahimovic missed a couple of sitters for Allegri’s (yes, our Allegri’s) Milan.

  • Nitram

    Josif

    If I remember correctly Vieri hardly celebrated his goal as he was at the time I believe, in some kind of dispute with the manager, or the Club itself, not sure which.

    Either way, rather than celebrate after he scored he looked like somebody had just slapped him round the face with a wet fish.

    Wonderful night. What I’d give for something similar tonight. Cant see it though I’m afraid.

    They are better than us, it’s as simple as that. But then again they are better than almost everybody.

  • para

    Arsenal need to start attacking the weaknesses of the opposition. This is not a gentlemans’s game how ever much we would like it to be.

    Come on Arsenal, lets create the biggest upset in CL football tonight. 🙂

  • Zedsaunt

    No Phillip Lahm and nothing to fear.

  • para

    Team:
    Ospina
    Bellerin Mustafi Koscielny Monreal
    Ramsey Xhaka
    Oxlade-Chamberlain
    Welbeck Wallcott
    Alexis

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