Morning Gooners, here is the second part of my season highlights.
4. Arsenal 3-0 AC Milan (Champions League 2nd round 2nd leg, 6th March 2012)
After a derisory, meek 1st leg surrender in the San Siro, the second leg was pretty much a formality. No-one really believed we could make the tie competitive, but it was an opportunity to restore some sort of pride, and perhaps give Milan a little fright along the way. And Arsenal certainly did, going 2-0 up inside the half hour. Once Robin van Persie had converted that penalty before the break the stadium was delirious. I was so out of breath I nearly passed out, and it was only half-time! We dared to dream of a historic reverse in the tie, and though it was not to be, at least Arsenal could leave the pitch with their heads held high.
3. Robin van Persie v Everton (Arsenal 1-0 Everton, Premier League, 10th December 2011)
What a goal this was. One of the early examples of that brilliant Song-van Persie connection. I was lucky enough that my seat offered me a great view of RvP’s volley, right on line with its direction. The long floated pass, the sweet connection with that wand of a left foot, even the way it cannoned in off the post, I was completely dumbfounded. Quite simply, world class brilliance.
2. Thierry Henry v Leeds (Arsenal 1-0 Leeds, FA Cup 3rd round, 09th January 2012)
It’s approaching the 70th minute mark and it’s not looking good. Arsenal cannot find a way through and Leeds are already thinking about a potential replay, always a game we can do without. Thierry Henry, the returning hero, comes on. Was this a good idea to come back? Would he be way off the pace in English football? Would he ruin his legacy? If there was a doubt about Henry’s prowess someone forgot to tell Leeds, who looked immediately intimidated by his presence. Then on 78 minutes Alex Song hits another one of those hot-knife-through-butter passes, Thierry reacts the quickest and rolls back the years with a classic trademark side-foot shot to send the Emirates Stadium absolutely crazy. When it was announced that he was on the bench everyone wanted him and only him to score. Henry did not disappoint and provided me with one of the greatest moments I’ve ever witnessed in the stadium. TH14 may have long left his throne, but with his subsequent performances, TH12 had come back to reclaim it.
1. Arsenal 5-2 Spurs (Premier League, 26th February 2012)
For me probably just goes ahead of Henry’s winner, simply because of the desolation I was feeling after half an hour. 2-nil down to a rampantly confident Spurs, typified by Adebayor’s ultimately premature post-penalty jig in front of us at the North Bank. At that point it was looking like this could be worse than the 4-4, and even surpass the 3-2 defeat last season when we’d thrown away a 2 goal half-time lead. Just before half-time Bacary Sagna and Robin van Persie drag Arsenal back into the game with a force-of-nature header and a sublime curled shot respectively. The North Bank had gone hysterical at this point, as instead of Tottenham running away with it, we were now in the box-seat. What followed was a complete destruction. Tomas Rosicky completes his rejuvenation with a deserved goal and Theo Walcott punishes them to hit the 4th. Typically, everyone around me wants a 5th to quash any memories of the 4-4 and Theo responds with another fantastic finish. We then had 20 minutes to bask in the glory and eyeball the Spurs fans in the away end (those that actually remained). This is the match where Arsenal woke up – had Spurs have gone on to win comfortably I’m convinced we would not have finished 3rd. This was The Turning Point, and a highlight not just of this season, but of the entire time I’ve supported the Arsenal.
So those are my highlights. Admittedly I may have missed out a couple that might have been on your lists (Mikel Arteta‘s strike against Manchester City, RvP’s late winner vs Liverpool to name two), but it just goes to prove that despite a having frustrating season we can still have the pick of some truly exhilarating moments. Thank God we aren’t Wolves, thank God even more that we’re not Tottenham.
Ooh to be a Gooner indeed.