By Tony Attwood
Tonight we play the second game of the Leasing.com trophy in which Arsenal play their under 21 team (with the option of a couple of older players in the side) away to Peterborough United.
It is a desperately sad reflection on the state of management of Arsenal.com that as I write this at 10.40 in the morning of the game the Arsenal webpage on the match is utterly blank, except for noting who we are playing.
And yet in the previous game in this competition there were at least 500 Arsenal supporters occupying one end of the ground at Northampton. How can the club not even have details of the squad, the ground, where to park … anything? (It is at the Weston Homes Stadium kick off 7.30pm if you want to know).
Interestingly Peterborough are not putting out their full first team but, according to their publicity, will include in the starting line-up “a number of youngsters looking to impress.” Having seen a number of these games, I welcome that – some of the old timers from the lower league teams do tend to go out and want to show the Arsenal kids what it is all about in terms of kicks, hair pulls, elbows and the like. Referees seem to think that is ok too. Part of the official PGMO Toughen The Kids UP programme I suspect.
In the opening round of games Peterborough won at Northampton Town 2-0, while Arsenal drew there 1-1, going down on the penalty shoot out. Here’s the table…
We know we won’t have Emile Smith-Rowe due to the injury he sustained in the Carabao Cup game against Nottingham Forest.
And if you are tempted by the match, even the cost of entry is reasonable – as it generally is for these games:
- Adults: £5
- Under 18s: £1
We have incidentally played Peterborough once in a competitive game – 30 January 1965 which was part of the utterly dead and dreadful period described in Jon Sowman’s wonderful book “The Long Sleep”. Arsenal lost 2-1. Here’s the only movie clip I can find of that day…
But I have actually seen Arsenal at Peterborough United – and I do believe my pal Ian who will also be going along this evening was also there. (This is part of what I love about football, all the memories of some many games in days gone by.)
It was 11 July 2003, in the first of the pre-season games. There had been one of those stupid summer international tournaments that year and so most of our top players were not available, and we used a few old timers and a lot of youngsters.
We had finished the previous season second but were feeling that maybe we could climb back above Manchester United despite the gap at the end of the 2002/3 season…
There was talk that although our attack was the finest there was to be found, our defence was still not as tight as it could be.
And why shouldn’t we feel confident? We have just won the FA Cup with a lineup that read
And we had a new keeper Jens Lehmann, a certain centre back in Sol Campbell, Kolo Toure, Patrick Vieira, and Sylvain Wiltord to add to the mix.
OK so those guys were not going to be playing in the first pre-season match, but even so we were the Arsenal, we’d come second in the league and won the cup and we were playing Peterborough.
And we lost 1-0. A week later played out a goalless draw with Barnet.
Then we went unbeaten in the league all season.
It is, as I believe has been mentioned before, a funny old game.
Anyway I hope we might muster another 500 there tonight – but it does raise the question of who will be saved to be part of the game on Thursday. I suspect this could be very much an under 21 squad without any extras.
- Arsenal have benefitted by the world cup break: allegedly.
- Arsenal and Tottenham: which has had the easier ride so far this season?
- Arsenal v Tottenham: not exactly a battle of equals.
- Death by 300,000 passes: how the Arsenal transformation started 2 seasons ago.
- Approaching derby day we recall when Arsenal helped Tottenham get into the league