There’s some stuff on the official site from David Ospina naming a host of ‘keepers, but with a distinctly absent amount of NLD referencing to the piece, I’m disinclined to talk about good goalkeepers over the last thirty or so years.
Francis Coquelin (who seems to be wheeled out more and more on the official site since his fast-tracking into the first team. Let’s hope he doesn’t go the way of Djourou and become the sites new PR mouthpiece) has been talking up the importance of the derby. That’s a bit more like it!
It’s actually the NLD in which he played a few years back, that I first thought that he could potentially be a long-term holding midfield option for us, so I’ve actually been surprised he has taken so long to force his way into the team. If you’ve read my nonsensical ramblings before, then you’ll know that I’ve always felt he was a decent player, who perhaps hasn’t quite been given his chance. His combative approach and ability to release a ball under pressure is something that I’ve long expected to see. But life is about little openings that you take advantage of, which is what he has done and as a result, the team is benefiting.
Of course the actual piece on the website is standard stuff really. It could almost be stock copy that has been dusted off from the last time we played away from home there. That Tommy Rosicky goal though, eh? What a bobby dazzler. If we are treated to that again by a man in red and white on Saturday (as well as three points, obviously), then it’ll certainly make the weekend a fun one, won’t it?
Whenever these fixtures come around I always start to think of the best games I’ve seen against that ‘orrible lot. We’ve had a few, that’s for sure. I remember being in the North Bank for a 2-0 victory and a sweet Bobby Pires finish. Or watching as Cesc Fabregas won the ball back from a kick off to dance around the Spud team and bag a beaut that led to a comfortable 3-0 win. But the one game that stands out for me above any others is the first 5-2.
It’s a memorable one for me for the way in which we fought back to win the game, but also because of who I brought with me, because it just felt like something was going to happen.
The Management joined me for her first ‘big’ game on that day. She’d been to plenty of games before, but had always said that they’d been smaller teams. We’d played the likes of Watford, or Sheffield United, which had always resulted in a comprehensive win.
In fact, up until that game, she’d never actually seen Arsenal come close to losing, to which I joke and called her my lucky football charm. I even worked out that whenever she was there, not only to The Arsenal win, but it’s usually by three clear goals.
Now we were really putting that theory to the test. I even told Nigel and the other blokes behind me in Block Five. They were nice about my jovial statement, but I’m sure deep down they were thinking “why has he said that? We’re bound to lose this now!”.
Going 2-0 down to an Adebayor and Saha double in the opening exchanges of the game probably had them wondering why I’d jinxed them by talking about The Management’s record. She looked at me slightly disappointed and without saying it, probably thought “see? I did say…”
But this is why I believe in the footballing gods. This is why I feel that fate and football have a very interesting relationship. Because the moment that Sagna smashed that header in from a corner to bring it back to 1-2, I had a feeling something special was going to happen, which was shortly followed by a superb van Persie curling shot from outside of the box and we were level. I turned to The Management and said to her “see, I told you it was back on. Three-goal margin.”
I’m pretty sure she didn’t believe me. Probably thought I was hepped up on goofballs, or something.
The second half was a bit of a blur to me. All I remember about it was the adrenalin as goal after goal went in. The team were possessed. We were like a prize fighter that had been bloodied in the nose, which only served to angry us and fuel us further. Tommy tucked one in and Theo grabbed a brace and when the second one from Walcott went in I grabbed the missus and ran straight to the front to celebrate. As we plodded back to row 11 she turned and said:
“Ok. Now I believe you” with a smile.
Nigel, who sits behind me, tapped me on the shoulder and asked for my season ticket. “You’re not allowed to come anymore” he said. “She is”
I tested the theory the following season against the Spuds. You all know what happened then, too.
Don’t worry. She’s on the waiting list.