- Arsenal v PSV, the team, negligence and corruption
- Sex abuser Barry Bennell has died but here’s why we should still worry about youngsters at football clubs
By Tony Attwood
I’ve no idea how many Arsenal matches I have seen since I was first taken to Highbury by the father so many years ago it would be embarrassing to reveal just how many if I did know, but last night will stay with me for as long as my brain manages to function.
It wasn’t that we all got soaked to the skin – indeed more soaked than I think I have ever been before in my life or ever want to be again. It wasn’t that pathetic Uefa made Arsenal put back the singing of North London Forever to make way for their own ludicrously pointless “anthem”, it wasn’t that there was a (very tiny) picture of me (with other people interested in Arsenal’s origins) in the programme celebrating our visit to Arsenal’s first proper stadium in Plumstead.
It was the imperious nature of Arsenal, who, straight from the kick off, took hold of the game, and showed anyone willing to be educated, just what this football lark is all about. It was also the fact that even with injuries Arsenal can play that way. And it was a reminder that waiting patiently all this time we have players like Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson ready to be given their chance.
True, it wasn’t much of a chance, coming on 69 and 58 minutes respectively, but it was a sign, and the roar that greeted each of them showed that everyone realised that.
What we saw last season was that this is not a collection of individuals, but a collection of brilliant players who can all play together. OK the opposition wasn’t that good, although let’s remember they are top of their league, but this really was a wonderful performance, so utterly appreciated by the crowd that will make “North London Forever” resonate across the city. Whatever the weather indeed. (Sorry I don’t have a recording from last night, so this one will have to do).
In fact so overwhelmed was I by what I witnessed that walking out of the ground in the torrential rain that decided to fall from that point on, I don’t think I even realised how utterly soaked I was within the first 30 seconds, despite all the layers of protection.
As for whether these so called journalists were there, I have my doubt. The Telegraph reporter notes “The energy of the crowd, the aggression of his players, the sound of the Champions League anthem…” What rubbish – it was the sound of North London Forever that resonated, as it always does before every match. (The journalist was probably still having a drink so missed it I guess).
This was a performance that built on all that was done last year, a performance that showed that the newly created team can and will go further than last season’s squad.
Saka, Trossard and Gabriel Jesus all scored, and that would normally be enough to rave about but no, because really that was the warm up show to Odegaard’s goal. It seems (and I haven’t looked this up to check) that he is only able to score one type of goal, and that from about four miles out rifled into the one tiny tiny space the keeper cannot reach.
And there was Raya. Of course we’ve all been talking about whether Arsenal are going to alternate goalkeepers, or have a cup keeper and a league keeper, or something else. Watching him last night I think it is going to be something else. And Raya is that something else. It is of course possible that Ramsdale will come in for the easier games – like the match against Tottenham on Sunday, by which time I hope that I might have dried out enough to be able to drive back to north London.
But for now I really don’t mind. I don’t mind that even after a very hot bath when I got home at around 1am I was still aching from the downpour, and the shouting and the singing. I don’t mind that Seven Sisters Station was so packed as we waited for our train that it was downright dangerous.
In fact I don’t actually mind anything at all since for however long I have left on this planet it will be in the knowledge that on this night, in the torrential rain, when I was soaked even before the game began, I was there. I might have got pneumonia but I was there.
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying
- Where there is power, money and greed there is corruption
- Why do Tottenham players get fouled more than those of any other club?
- The media, the League and PGMO. An insidious agreement rears its ugly head