By Walter Broeckx
20.45 (our local time) I sit in front of my TV with my sons full of anticipation for this game. When the players come out I can hear the Emirates full of noise. I see a lightshow in the stadium. I see thousand Arsenal flags. I send my telepathic thoughts to those 57.000 Arsenal fans in the Emirates. And I ask the 11 players on the pitch not just to be Gunners today. No I ask them to be Gooners. I ask them to be supporters of our great club. Play like the fans, play for the fans.
Sitting on the edge of my seat. Cesc to Van Persie….. ooooohhhhh the keeper saves. Okay this is a much better start than last year. My nerves are beginning to calm edown. Messi on goal no please don’t and he didn’t. I think Szczesny spread himself well there.
I can hear the Emirates buzzing and shouting and singing. Great work you Gooners over there. I here you shouting loud and clear. You are doing your part. Messi with a ball to Villa and he scores. Oh, no… Some swearing, some grumbling. Well you could expect a goal from Barcelona. But the players are playing their heart out. They chase, they run, they work. This is what we want to see. But we struggle against Barcelona that is playing keep the ball. A familiar game but most of the time it us doing it. We try but Barcelona are always threatening on the counter. Szczesny is doing a great job.
But when the first half last year was a bit embarrassing, this time the game is more even. Barcelona have most of the possession but we had our chances to score. Let us keep the faith.
Second half and Arsenal looks ready to battle all the way. The players are giving it all. And I don’t know how it sounded in the Emirates but in my house it was a great atmosphere. The fans were singing and supporting the players. Library??? My ass! I don’t want to read a book in this library.
But still 0-1 behind but you could see that we were getting the upper hand. You could feel that the support lifted our players. They didn’t want to let themselves and you Gooners out there down. On came Bendtner and Arshavin. Wise move to take Song off to prevent him getting a second yellow card and Walcott couldn’t get through the Barcelona defenders. And the Emirates kept on singing. And the Emirates kept on supporting. And the players kept on fighting.
And then Clichy with a very nice lofted ball to Van Persie. Only Bendtner in the box coming to goal. The keeper anticipated the cross and made a fatal error and moved away from his first post. And Robin took his chance and went for the small gap between post and a completely surprised goal keeper: GGGOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There he is just when you need him! ROOOOBBBIIIIINN VAN PERSIE!!!!!!!!! When Belgium beat Argentina the world champions in NOu Camp in the first game of the world cup in Spain a long time ago a famous Flemish match commentator shouted a few times when Erwin Vandenbergh scored the only goal of the game: “Daar is em’ which translated in English means: “There he is, there he is! and he did it”! It felt just the same.
Delirium in our living room. Me jumping up and down. My sons jumping up and down. We shout as hard as we can. My wife knew we had scored. I could feel the Emirates vibrating from over here some 300 km away from you Gooners over there. And the songs were sung louder. My match reporter talked about the great atmosphere in the Emirates. This is thanks to you over there! You made us proud.
You could feel that Barcelona started doubting. What to do? Try to win? Try to keep it like that? They tried to go forward but our defenders stood their ground. It wasn’t always great vintage but it was enough to keep Barcelona away.
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And then a great pass from our captain to Nasri who was supposed to play a more holding role but who had seen the gap. He wasn’t at his sharpest yet so the defenders could close him down. But then the class of a super player showed. He waited and looked at the players coming near. Van Persie… no to much defenders. Arshavin? Yeah, let’s give the ball to the little Russian magician. And when the going gets tough, the tough get going and our little Russian who should have been sold by some in January just turned the ball in the net.
GOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLL ANDREY ARSHAVIN!!!!!! The scenes at my home were incredible. But it was nothing compared to what I saw in the Emirates. The director made some great shots of the joy from you Gooners. I’m sure you must have felt the Emirates shaking. It was great to see so much joy on your faces.
I heard you singing: “we’ve got Cesc Fabregas” that should teach them. I heard you singing about Arshavin and to f*ck that money grabbing idiot that once played for us. I heard you shouting Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal….
And most of all I heard you signing: AND IT’S ARSENAL, ARSENAL FC, We ARE BY FAR THE GREATEST TEAM THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN. And maybe never ever has this been more true than today. When you beat what is supposed to be the best team in the world, then you can sing this.
Tonight was a night they can never take away from us. I know the job is only half done. I know we still await a difficult game in Barcelona. But this could be a very big win. This should make the players realise that they can beat any team in the world. Even Barcelona.
Thanks to you Gooners out there in the Emirates for making it a hell for Barcelona and for lifting our players. And thank to you Gunners who made this possible. Thank you Szczesny for a great performance. Thank you Eboue for working as hard as you can and for giving it all. Thank to that great friendly giant Djourou who stood his ground. Thank you Koscielny for showing that you really belong to Arsenal and those who still doubt him after this performance can go away and support another club. Thank you Clichy for that great pass to Van Persie and for defending like a mad dog at times.
Thank you Song and we know this early booking hampered you in your play. Thanks to Cesc for another great pass for our second goal and for working hard. Thanks to Walcott because maybe it didn’t show in the Emirates but you worked very hard to support the midfield and Eboue. Thank you Nasri for being such a great player and for coming back so soon and for your vision with the second goal. Thank you Arshavin for your cool taken goal. Thank you Super Nick for working your socks off.
And thank you Robin for your class and genius with that goal. And most of all: thank you Little Jack. Oh my God how he rattled and battled and I saw some impressing things for a 19 year old player against the best team in the world. Can you believe that he can only get better? Now that is a mouth watering thought.
I really cannot remember having been so proud of our boys and for the way they worked and turned the game in our favour. I really cannot remember having been so proud of the Gooners in the Emirates. Thank you Arsenal! Thank you for a great night!
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