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The most sporting occasion I have seen at Arsenal in fifty years

By Tony Attwood

Living almost 100 miles from the Ems, I don’t get back home after mid-week games until after midnight, at which time I fall into bed, and just hope to wake up in time to get to work the next day.  (Us oldies are not so good in the small hours).

So I have not seen what TV did to the match last night, but for me it was a very particular occasion.

It wasn’t the atmosphere in the ground – that wasn’t particularly good (although I did at last manage to hear the “We’re the clock end Highbury” chant from where I sit in the north bank), but it was the events within the game, and then one response from the crowd, that made this so special.

For a start there was no time-wasting, no faked injuries, and nothing remotely like the normal level of kicking, arguing, pushing, elbowing, pinching, punching and every other -ing you get to see when we play Blackburn, Bolton, Birmingham and the rest.

The opposition were not insipid, and there were a fair number of free kicks, but what we did not have was rotational fouling.  Goal kicks were taken quickly, the keeper did not pause for a drink each time, and overall I got the impressioin that Shakhtar wanted to make a game of it.  No ,matter what.

So too did their bunch of fans on the opposite side of the ground from me.  They were jumping and singing throughout, despite the obvious fact from early on that they were not going to get anything out of it.   And they never stopped.

And then late in the second half there was the defining moment. It wasn’t that some people applauded Eduardo’s goal.  It was that the entire stadium stood, the applause spread round the ground, and it kept going.

And when after what seemed an age it finally stopped the Eduardo song (“Hi ho Eduardo Silva”) started up, with as much vigour and force as it ever did when he was playing for us.

It was a moment that made me proud to have spent my life as an Arsenal supporter.

There were of course other issues. The Wilshere-Cesc combo was something else – and not just in the way they operate close together.  It is in the way they operate when far apart – which possibly is not always seen on TV.

Cesc, as you will probably have seen, was playing as a forward, leaving Wilshere and Song behind.  (Actually Song was playing as a forward some of the time, but I think he was getting a bit light-headed having scored).

So sometimes we had Cesc and Jack close, sometimes far apart.  But since each has the ability to pick out staggering passes, it was wonderful to behold where ever they were – because when far apart they can still find each other, or anyone else.  Each has wonderful positional sense, so even when not receiving the ball each is dragging the opposition defence all over the place.  It is quite something.

As the game ended I ruminated (as one does) on the fact that Jack now has a three match ban, and what a problem that is for us – or maybe not.  Cesc needs to re-establish himself as the central cog in the whole machine, and maybe playing games without Jack might just help a bit to ensure that his standard game returns.

I also fully admit that I never saw this coming.  I had seen Jack in the reserves, and noted the quality, but not imagined he could be this good – and certainly not this quickly.   But by the end of this season he will be worth what?  £30 million?  More?  If Cesc does choose to stay beyond the end of this season, or if Mr Wenger chooses to say “No!” once again to the mindless morons of Lower Barca, we will have ended up with midfield double act that surpasses Vieira and Petit.  Not in any way the same as those two legends, but better in terms of ultimate effectiveness.

So there we were, with a forward line of Chamakh, Cesc and Nasri – I wouldn’t have predicted that either, but it certainly worked, and with one or two of the long term dead coming back to life.  There is a possibility here, I believe.

But mostly I will remember Eduardo, and the crowd.  Maybe a returning hero has had such a reception elsewhere before, but if so, I wasn’t there.  It was a privilege and an honour to be there last night.

The best refereeing we have seen all season

26 comments to The most sporting occasion I have seen at Arsenal in fifty years

  • slim

    Great article, and what a pity Eduardo didn’t achieve anything with us.

  • WalterBroeckx

    It looked and sounded as if we had scored 6 goals. I also felt proud of being a Gooner and to see that the fans in the Emirates responded so well to this goal against us from Eduardo.

    It was also mentioned in our media over here as something special. So proud once more to be a Gooner. I think the way the fans reacted yesterday will prove that we are not only supporters of our team but also that most of us are great human beings who can still feel love for a player that has left us.

    Great Gunners, great Gooners and great Eduardo for doing what he has done. It was written in the stars that Eduardo would score a goal at the Emirates. It just had to happen.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Oh and great article 😉

    Just to think of the fact that Cesc and Jack could be playing together in the coming years (and just think of adding Ramsey to this) makes me wet my pants and let the water run out of my mouth at the same time.
    I’m like the weather over here: moist.

  • IndianGooner

    Yesterday, it was all about Edu’s return.. The 5-1 result was good but I felt the warmest when Edu scored. Its as if the script was written when the group was drawn. Since his goal, there was only one thought in my, what could have been if it wasn’t for the horrific injury..

  • IndianGooner

    I meant “there was only one thought in my mind”

  • Paul C.

    IndianGooner – although none of us can be certain, the most obvious “what might have been?” regarding Eduardo and his injury is the 2007/08 League Championship. When he got injured we were 4 points clear and playing really well. Eduardo himself was getting better and better and was starting to play like one of the very finest strikers in the country, developing a really good partnership with Ade. Then he got injured and with RvP also out, we simply didnt have the cover up front.

    That is, and always will be, my biggest regret over Edaurdo’s injury.

    Well done Eduardo, and I hope you have plenty more years left in your career!!!!

  • IndianGooner

    Paul C,

    Exactly.. And if we had won the league that year, Arsene’s experiment would have achieved the result couple of years before expected. And Edu would have been on his way to become an Arsenal legend with lots of goals and some classy ones..

  • Obi Naija Gunner

    It was the same here in Nigeria!
    Everyone applauded Dudu’s goal for like 1 minute or 2 after he scored.
    Folks waited to “applaud” him after the game. Really special.

  • Yesterday was definetely a day to remember. Eduardo’s return to the Emirates was more than I ever imagined. The fans chanting his name throughout the game and then when he came on second half, more applauses. Wow… that was amazing!! I think all the gooners around the world wanted to see him scoring, and we were rewarded with a beautiful goal. I have never seen such a special moment. True, there was Henry last season encounter, but to me, yesterday was something else. More perfect, impossible.

  • mj_gunner

    Eddy’s departure was more due to change in our system, than his injury or form. I am sure he’s would have got back to the level we knew; but Arsene himself said that he doesn’t fit in our formations.

  • BergkampsLoveChild

    It was an intense feeling last night, one i have never experienced in my time as an arsenal season ticket holder. I think everyone, genuinly wanted to show their appreciation to a guy who put his body on the line for the club and almost paid the ultimate price for his efforts. He may never have reached the heights of such plaudits that Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira, etc did, but i can say for myself and the majority of real Arsenal fans, that Eduardo will always be an Arsenal ledgend.

    I read somewhere that when ever Eduardo’s name is mentioned, people will automatically think of a broken leg. But i dont. When i think Eduardo, i think of the sky commentator shouting into his microphone ‘EDUARDO!! – He never misses’ – i think of the superb goal he scored against Man City and the stunning volley he scored against Burnley on his return from injury.

    To automatically think of a man in such a negative manner, purely because of a situation that was forced upon him, is not fair on him and its about time he was allowed to forget it.

    I for one am proud to be a gooner, im proud of my fellow gooners that attended last night and im proud of the ‘well done and fair well’ we gave Eduardo last night, before, during and after the game.

  • IndianGooner

    BergkampsLoveChild,

    For me, Eduardo’s best moments were against Everton at Goodison. We were 1-0 down. 2 shots from Edu and we’re 2-1 up.. That night was magical.

    For me, His beach-ball shot against Burnley will be the most emotional goal scored by a football player.

    Proud to be a Gooner and yesterday’s reception to Edu made me even more proud..

  • Paul C.

    My best memory of Eduardo is one of the very first goals he scored for us. Can’t remember who it was (and can’t be bothered to look it up!) but it was a Champions League match and, if I remember correctly, Eduardo was a late substitute and we really didnt know much about him yet. Late on a nice passing move saw the ball come across to Eduardo at an angle and he just smoothly passed the ball, back across the ‘keeper, into the corner of the net. Everything about the finish just screamed class and I remembered thinking “once he gets up to the pace of English Football, this guy is going to be outstanding”. Sadly, just as he was getting up to the pace, he was injured and we never really saw him at the level again.

  • Adam

    As soon as i saw cesc and wilshire in the starting line up last night, i knew we would win. But after the game Im really looking forward to seeing Ramsey thrown in the mix as well, I beleive those three could possibly rule the prem and Europe for quite along time. Im glad someone else noticed Song staying upfield forcing cesc back. I can understand rotating position but just standing upfield waiting for others to make something happen is a bit off. Maybe im being a bit hard on Song as he did have a decent game.
    P.S. ALL STAND AND SALUTE EDUARDO.

  • gooner80

    I would like to point out that our fans are very much the soul of arsenal, the crowd, the fans were amazing and the negativity sometimes reported to be surrounding our fans shows it is a small minority not a vast majority even the media acknowledged how special the fans were being

    eduardo pre taylor ( one of the most clincal finshers I have ever seen, and the potential to be one of the best in the world)

    post taylor ( a man lucky to still be playing at a high level got the send off he deserved.

    if any player is thinking about leaving arsenal leave with the dignity, class and respect dudu showed and byou wont go far wrong

  • StickyPantsGooner

    Gooner80 – im guessing your referring to Cesc. Its a shame he will leave in the summer as a partnership of him and Jack is enough to make me do a sex wee in my boxers.

  • Goonerman

    I have not seen a whole stadium applaud an opposing team’s goal after my 45 years of watching Arsenal and football.

    What a pleasure!

  • Micheal

    For me, the best goal Eduardo scored was the god-like header against West Ham in the FA Cup. A 5′ 7″ guy rose and won an aerial battle with a 6′ 3″ tough centre-back (Matthew Upson) while placing the ball beyond England’s first choice goalkeeper (Robert Green). The scoreline situation, the clocktime and the away ground atmosphere made it more irresistable… I can watch it again and again for a million times….

  • A Casual Observer

    My thoughts exactly – it was a perfect evening of football.

  • LORDGUNNER

    seating at clock-end lower tier,i though the atmosphere here was fantastic (on our side anyway).10 mn singing red army has broken my voice until the stupid steward told us to sit down.

    when donesk done the subs we ve all waiting for (dudu coming on)the whole stadium fell in “deafening” silence and the whole stadium as one welcoming him back once the stadium speaker say his name.His goal was the icing on the cake:hope adebawhore was watching how the act.

    And like you tony i ve got a long way to come back(live not far from u actually).I ve no idea why we are not playing one hour early to make the journey more easy for everyone, specially some of us have got the last train to catch and the police after the match do everything in their power to make you miss it

    .

  • Dark Prince

    I was watchin it on T.V at 2am!! It was a superb gesture from all the fans!! Eduardo, we still love you!!

  • roh_Top Gun

    Paul C
    you are referring to Eduardo’s goal in the 3-0 win against Sevilla… Hleb won the ball from Estude and passed it to Cesc to his right… El Capitan flashed it across to Eduardo at the far left hand side and Eddy, as u said, sumptuously passed the ball into the net, while their goalkeeper was comically protestin for an offside which wasn’t… eddy 2nd goal 4 us… AHH, MEMORIES…

  • mark Mywords

    Yes, this little thing with Eduardo was all very nice and lovey dovey, but how would we have felt if the score at the time had been 0-0 and not 5-0? When the ball was crossed in from the right by a bloke who was in acres of space, my first instinct was to look round the pitch to find Clichy. He was in the centre circle with his hands on his hips, having done one of his famous headless chicken routines. Churlish to complain I suppose, but I wish he’d develop some positional sense. You can bet your sweet life we’ll get punished sooner or later.

  • walter

    After that Arsenal have put a new record of scoring most goals after 3 games in the CL, our dear friends from not that far away are trying to set a new record by conceding most goals by an EPL team after 3 games 🙂

  • roh_Top Gun

    Walter
    If not for Bale’s heroics, the Tiny Totts would have made themselves the laughing-stock of Europe… When they were 4-0 nil at halftime, i fell off my couch laughing… 😀

  • Arun

    I will remember Eduardo for onething. He can never miss. I used to Play Eduardo as the main striker in FIFA08. Man, he never misses even there. One of the Best finishers in the world. Only this thing would have happened. He would ve burried the plenty of chances that went begging into the net. Championship? Anyones guess..

    But, while saying this I also get a feeling that if its not for that injury at Brimmingham, he would have been Kicked, bullied and injured in blackburn or bolton or STOKE. With so much of threat he posessed and not so bulky phisically, those teams would come on to the pitch to gun him down as their top priorities.