Arsène Wenger looked like death warmed up, sitting on the bench on Sunday. This might have only been due to a bug, but he couldn’t have possibly wished for a more rejuvenating tonic, as the Arsenal conjured up the sort of panacea of a performance that dragged Gooners everywhere back from the brink of despair.
For the best part of half a century, our dominance over Spurs has been such that our neighbours have rarely ever rolled up at our place feeling quite so bullish. After witnessing the complete disintegration of our season during our past two woeful displays, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in dreading that Sunday’s Derby might prove to be the perfunctory nail in the coffin of our North London supremacy.
As it turned out, we couldn’t have wished for a more timely and poignant reminder of the beautiful game’s seemingly infinite capacity to burst even the most inflated bubble. Having proved himself too cute for the terrier like clutches of HM’s tax inspectors, Teflon Harry must’ve thought he was untouchable. Then when least expected, our flu-ridden French bulldog bares his teeth and sinks them into the hallowed backside of England’s crown prince-in-waiting.
I’m doing my utmost not to go overboard (although this hasn’t stopped me from dispatching wholesale text messages to my Spurs pals at 50 minutes past every hour “just to remind you that it’s nearly 5-2”), because we now need to go to Anfield this weekend and prove that we’ve not been left clinging to our Derby Day rapture, as an anomalous life-raft of scintillating euphoria, amidst an ocean of otherwise disappointing dross thus far. This might’ve been the case, if we’d merely snatched a narrow-margin triumph against Spurs.
Yet in the manner in which we turned this game on its head, by recouping a two goal deficit in five unforgettable minutes of football before the break and then going on to dominate the second-half, with a display that was reminiscent of Wenger-ball at its best (from the Arsenal’s worst ever eleven, according to Roy Keane’s not so humble opinion!), inflicting the sort of arrant defeat that left the auld enemy trudging off the park, dazed and bewildered (believe me they weren’t the only ones!), I can’t help but hope this will prove to be a landmark demolition that will result in a lingering psychological impact on both sides.
It was a barmy afternoon all round. According to the “where there’s blame, there’s a claim” maxim, I should be suing my missus’ airline. After her plane was delayed, I didn’t arrive back from collecting Róna at the airport until 6am on Sunday. Having ‘slept out’ assorted alarms, I think it must’ve been the helicopters hovering overhead, which eventually dragged me back from the arms of Morpheus, to my horror, only five minutes before kick-off. Rather than missing half an hour of the match while dashing around to the ground, I decided to watch the first-half on the box and barrel around there at the break.
But with it being that bit further to walk to the new stadium, I needed to be out the door as the whistle blew. As a result, when Sagna struck, believing this to be the last significant action before the break, I turned the volume on the TV up and dived into the karsey, to relieve the call of nature that had been ‘on hold’ for the entire first-half. Needless to say, I came running back out with my kecks around my ankles, just in time to hear Gary Neville’s dumbfounded “wow” response to Van Persie’s peach of an equalizer.
Having restored the status quo, it crossed my mind momentarily that I might do better to stop at home. But boy am I glad that I braved any fear of tempting fate. Naturally, in light of what subsequently transpired, there were plenty of wags in my vicinity petitioning me to turn up at half-time for every match. But then I suppose my impact on Sunday’s proceedings is no less credulous, than the team of impostors we’ve been watching all season, suddenly turning into the genuine article!
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