Yes we lost to United 8-2, got beaten 4-3 by Blackburn, got taught a lesson by Swansea, didn’t turn up at the San Siro etc. Apart from that we actually had some extraordinary highlights, ones that on occasion left me almost completely breathless. Here’s a list of 10 of my personal favourites in some kind of order.
10. Arsène Wenger hugging Pat Rice (WBA 2-3 Arsenal, Premier League, 13th May 2012)
The Boss had been apoplectic with rage for most of the second half, but what we saw towards the end was something altogether different. With Arsenal hanging on by the fingernails Arsène mimics the nervousness every fan was feeling and clambers onto Pat Rice. This is great for two reasons: Arsène, despite being the manager shows he feels what we feel; and secondly that he is hugging Pat on his last day at work demonstrated an unusual poignancy rarely ever seen in the dug-out.
9. Robin van Persie v Tim Krul, (Arsenal 2-1 Newcastle, Premier League, 12th March 2012)
It’s 1-1 at the Emirates, and Newcastle are time-wasting. Tim Krul is particularly enjoying himself, doing that thing I hate, unnecessarily moving goal-kicks to the opposite corner of the goal area. However, all that time-wasting was in vain, as Thomas Vermaelen scores a 95th minute winner. Robin van Persie helpfully suggests to his international team-mate that he might now relent from wasting any more time. Krul, incensed with what was massively astute statement decides to produce his handbag. In fairness, it was handbags on both sides but seeing RvP not back down and giving Krul a bit of verbal roused an already-electrified crowd. It was also the first time I agreed with Gary Neville, to my absolute horror, when I watched it back at home.
8. Bacary Sagna on “The Enemy” (26th February 2012)
Not the band, but on Spurs in his post-5-2 interview: “…In our own stadium, against the enemy we could not lose”. And if anyone thinks these are just words, you only need to see the sheer voracity of his opening goal against Spurs. He had clearly had enough of being 2-nil down, and he was certainly not going to be on the losing side that day.
7. The Poznan, (Arsenal 1-0 Manchester City, Premier League, 8th April 2012)
I hate the Poznan. I can never understand why, upon your team scoring, you would turn your back on them. Don’t you want to see the team celebrating, the scorer showing you what it means to do what the humble fan has always wanted to? I must admit I did put my hatred for this moronic celebration to one side after Mikel Arteta put Manchester City to the sword at the Emirates. Whilst the players celebrated, the Poznan reverberated around that North Bank and yes, I did join in to stick it to the City fans. Even The Grumpy Sh*thead was enjoying himself. And the funnies continued, as at the end Mario Balotelli finally completed his match-long mission to get sent off.
6. Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal (Premier League, 29th October 2011)
This was a match that was much more important than it usually is. Having been a team that was becoming accustomed to losing the big matches (Liverpool, Manchester United and Spurs up to this point), we’d clawed our way back a little bit by recording a series of almost under-the-radar victories. So this was a game we had to win, as I felt the somewhat fragile confidence that was finding it’s way back to the side would have been completely shattered again. And despite going behind twice, Arsenal produced a resilient performance, a Santos strike, Theo Walcott battling with gravity to stay upright and score, and an RvP hatrick.
And it was my birthday.
5. John Terry on his backside (Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal, Premier League, 29th October 2011)
Although it’s technically about a Chelsea player I feel this deserves a separate mention as it was Arsenal-inspired. Aside from the odious off-field stuff he gets involved in (don’t get me started on that), for the longest time I’ve felt that from a purely footballing perspective Terry’s best days were long behind him. Saw him play for England v Ukraine at Wembley 4/5 years ago and I was in shock as to how slow an international defender is allowed to be. So after all his lack of humility and badge-kissing it warmed my cockles immensely to see him flat on his a*se as Robin sped away to score his second. It is even funnier looking back when you realise that a) even if Terry had stayed on his feet he would have been too slow to catch RvP anyway, and b) this is becoming something of a trademark of his.
To be continued Gooners…