It was quite a Tuesday evening. We drove to Peterborough for our first visit since 2003, and just as at the start of that wonderful season, we lost 1-0. And although this may not turn out to be another wonderful season, last night overall was rather fine.
It was a young under 21 team, playing an experienced Peterborough team – with many of our under 21s having moved up to the under 23s or even the first team squad. So younger and younger players have been promoted into the under 21s, and actually holding on to just conceding one was not too bad.
We had one first teamer: Mavropanos. He was injured on 12 May and this was, I think, his first return to action. He was solid and careful, as befits a player returning after a series of injuries.
As for last night, the Peterborough ground has been upgraded over the years – it is now seated on three sides, and they have a totally bonkers mascot dressed as a rabbit waving a giant carrot, for reasons that did not become at all clear during the course of the evening.
Also their fans appear to be in a time warp – at least when it comes to singing, as we were treated to a run down of songs last heard somewhere around the 1980s. But of course, each to their own.
There were about 500 Arsenal fans in the crowd of just over 3000, which was not a bad showing, and man of the match for Arsenal was Matt Macey who played superbly and kept the score down to just the one.
So it was an evening out, a chance to catch up on the chit chat, and see a ground not seen for many a year and not a very inspiring performance at all from Arsenal’s very under 21s.
And thus back to the car and the drive home with a few phone calls to the folks back home, only to discover the fact that Tottenham had offered up the real entertainment during the evening with a 2-7 home defeat.
Of course the result will raise a lot of commentary once more about why we let Gnabry go, and I won’t meander through that again save to say the two obvious things. First if a player wants to go, it is hard to keep him especially after some very poor loan choices by Arsenal, and second Gnabry always wanted to return to his homeland in order to heighten his chances of playing for his country. Which he did.
But the result reminded me of the Sun’s commentary from a couple of years back, “Nobody does defeats in Europe quite like the Gunners” in which their highlight were the two 5-1 defeats in 2015/16 and 2016/17. “It’s incredible,” the Sun said, “how Arsenal never learn their lesson.”
So will the Sun now turn on the tiny Totts? Will they learn a lesson from this – or indeed from their run of recent results? I’m not sure, although I think it more likely that we will have lots of Tottenham supporters writing in to tell us how awful Arsenal is at the moment, and that we should focus on our team rather than anyone else.
Well yes, but without local rivalry, football is surely less of a fun thing to be involved in.
But that’s what happens whenever we write about other teams, and I never quite get it. You see, to play a football match you need two teams and if one of your rivals is having a bad time, well, the occasional quip is not amiss, it seems to me. And anyway they still have those beer glasses that fill from the bottom, and a bigger stadium than we have.
Anyway, last night’s game exceeds their previous worst home defeat in Europe by quite a big, the previous worst was 1-3 against Benfica in March 2014. But it doesn’t quite get to the level of the 8-0 defeat suffered to FC Köln in July 1995 in the mighty Intertoto Cup group stage.
Meanwhile back with the game we went to see, there was no doubt that Matt Macey was the man of the match for Arsenal keeping the score down with a series of fine saves. Otherwise it was hard to find really positive stories for us in Peterborough.
The team was
Swanson Clarke Mavropanos Medley Bola
Smith Burton Cottrell
Presumably, Balogun was either injured or has been promoted to the first team for Thursday’s game.
So now, one day off from travel to football, and then it is back on the M1 on Thursday.