Oh, Such a Perfect Day! Arsenal v Spuds – A Supporter’s Experience

Getting tickets to the Emirates this season is like trying to find hens teeth, impossible, fortunately my son’s best mate had another engagement on NLD day and as I’m 1st on the subs bench I got my first run-out of the season.

An early kick-off and train strike in the U.K. meant I was at the railway station at the ungodly hour, for me, of 9.30am with my son who was already showing signs of pre-match tension, me being an old hand just let it pass me by, well a bit.

Liverpool St Stn and then into one of London’s finest licensed cabbies to Holloway Road and straight into the Rocket (North London University Bar) for a few early pints, me, well I got myself a cup of tea and a sausage roll being an old hand, I wanted to embrace the day, soak it up, remember it all.

The buzz going to the ground was electric, it usually is on NLD day but this one felt a little more tingly than usual, both the Gunners and the other mob were having good seasons, the other mob were unbeaten in the Premier League and had shown the capacity to earn points from games where they had been clearly outplayed, their attack is as good as it gets anywhere and the rest of their team is a regimented block in front of their goal.

Inside the stadium in the concourses the atmosphere was raucous, loud and exciting, I joined in with the songs, had a beer and prepared for the battle ahead, funnily enough I felt confident and calm, this Arsenal team is truly amazing, and I believe that we’re on the cusp of some momentous times. I’ve seen some great Arsenal teams developing in the past and the journey can be stupendous, and I honestly get that feeling with this group.

Walking down to my seat (we all stand and I love it) the crowd was energised, motivated and 100% focused on giving the good guys that edge and  the other mob the bird.

Arsenal took the game to the other mob as we knew they would, but the Italian defensive web in front of their goal held firm, worryingly when they turned the ball over we looked a little exposed particularly on the flanks, the other mob probably should have opened the scoring but both the England capt and referee’s assistant Harry Kane and the irritating Richarlison miskicked in front of goal and Ramsdale did the rest. It was a timely reminder that we were playing a team as dangerous as a viper.

Gradually our possession began to work some spaces and a series of cross field passes led to Saka receiving the ball on the right, he turned this way and that whilst closed down by two opponents eventually laying a pass inside for the impressive Ben White who in turn moved the ball sideway to Thomas Partey in a modicum of space, we were right behind him at the other end and saw perfectly the trajectory as his pinpoint shot bent out and then inside the post with Lloris grasping at air, the stadium exploded.

Arsenal deserved it for taking the initiative but this game wasn’t finished, the sparing continued with Arsenal pressing and the other mob defending then hitting us on the break. Son fortunately was having a bum game but Harry Kane was always dangerous, well potentially but both Gabriel and Saliba were in control.

Then it happened, a rare other mob attack, some sloppy defending by the good guys, Ramsdale went charging out to stop Richarlison, we should have cleared it, Xhaka miscues a clearance and lost the ball, Gabriel dives in to stop Richarlison but missed the ball, penalty and you know that the man with the perfect diction will score and he did.

That’s where our fantastic crowd comes in, no moaning at Xhaka (what a change), no brickbats for the players but right back behind the team, I loved it and I was still calm and confident – well calm’ish…

Arteta needed to tweak a few things at half time and he showed just how he is developing because he proved against a top top coach that he can live with them.

Arsenal emerged revitalised and more in control, I’m not sure what Arteta tweaked but we began to dominate the midfield more, the turnovers became less and the other mob began to show signs of stress. A mix up in the goal area and a mishandle by Lloris as Jesus burst between two static defenders to poke us back in front, cue pandemonium and this old pensioner almost getting knocked over but it was flipping brilliant lads, made me feel 17 again.

The game had already turned in our favour and the other mob were losing control then Emerson dived in with a completely unnecessary studs down the Achilles lunge at Martinelli, it’s the kind of tackle that leaves you needing months out and an operation but thankfully Gabby is a tough hombre. Referees are usually soft on these dangerous offences but referee Taylor was straight to his top pocket and out came the red card. The other mob were obviously used to escaping sanction for this kind of Serie A foul but their luck had run out and Conte ran out of ideas. Down to 10 men the good guys swarmed all over the other mob and moments later the ball found its way to Xhaka the ‘New Hero of North London’ who switched the ball to his left peg and pinged it past the despairing Lloris.

Party time at the Emirates as the crowd went bananas, we all knew we had broken the other mob, even Capt Mumble couldn’t save their bacon as we celebrated like it was 1999.

From then on a succession of Conte substitutions and a few thoughtful ones from Mikel failed to change the dynamic of visitors holding on for dear life and the good guys dominating, my only gripe is we probably left a goal or even two out on the pitch.
5-1 would have been nice.

It’s great seeing the players celebrate, Xhaka pulling a face at the crowd after embarrassing one of the other mob and winning a corner, the connection between fans and players is absolutely wonderful and partly down to Arteta continually including us in his process, you can see how the players are embracing it and Xhaka must wonder if he’s dreaming, but he deserves it, the players all deserve the adulation and Arteta and his coaches deserve all the credit they are currently enjoying.

A quick pint after the game with some friends, a promise that I’ve got the Man City ticket from a mate then a cab back to Liverpool St and the last but one train home before the trains stopped at 5.30pm, a perfect day was concluded spending the evening with the grandkids and a Ruby Murray – get in….

By Allezkev

51 thoughts on “Oh, Such a Perfect Day! Arsenal v Spuds – A Supporter’s Experience

  • Thanks Kev for an excellent personal report on the starters, main course and pudding of this fabulous win over the arch enemy. I travelled with you all the way.

    These sort of days are just fabulous and I am glad that you witnessed such an emphatic win.

    So good to hear the atmosphere has changed dramatically and that Xhaka did not get the blame for the pen give away. So many of our players did not shine in glory, from Saka, Partey to Big Gab. But setbacks just happen and then it is all about re-finding our belief and form, and oh did the boys and manager do that.

  • Great stuff, Kev. A day with your son, three points, domination of a NLD, top of the league, grandkids, a ruby to top it all off. A bit of Heaven on Earth.
    I love a redemption story and Granit seems to be writing one. His unfortunate clanger in our box adds to the growing appreciation for the wisdom of unleashing him further forward where he is absolutely thriving. His goal was superbly taken, and another of his efforts along with Thomas’s goal and a shot by Kieran showed how dangerous our lads are from outside of the box.
    I agree with you Kev, that Tottenham have a superb front three but I wouldn’t swop Bukayu and the two Gab’s for them. I loved the way Richarlison was schooled by our Brazilian boys, I’m sure Tito was watching and will be doing some hard thinking.
    You have a ticket for the City game? I watched them this morning as they destroyed their neighbours. They do look good enough for their second place on the table. Long may they keep it.

  • I am working away in Saudi Arabia and it was so nice to read that report as it reminded me of the good times and being back in london. It sounds like the atmosphere and excitement of when Henry, Freddie and Pires were around and that makes me very, very happy. We are starting to get our old arsenal back and the fear factor for the other teams is now in full effect. I did not watch the game as was working but the highlights showed me just how important saliba has become in such a short amount of time, we need to sign this boy to a very long deal.

  • Wonderful Kev. You are a lucky person. Iam currently driving to London but to attend a whole day meeting and not to watch my beloved Arsenal
    Such is life, Kev gets everything and I have to attend a meeting in London 😂.
    What a win though still basking. Wish I could wear my Arsenal jacket to the meeting.

  • I’m considering filing a perjury complaint for the “tea” moment in the NLUB, but otherwise a true “fly on the emirates walls” experience; thanks a lot, mate.
    What a reward for Granit’s bravery, loyalty, and … talent such a season is; the urchins around him (I like these moments when he orders them to huddle up after a goal, so they might keep a – relatively – cool head) have rejuvenated him as they have all of us.
    I agree with you about the extra goals we could/should have scored. It might be the consequence of the “other mob”‘s rope-a-dope fanaticism, which is aimed at nothing but turning their box into a wasteland of opportunities, but I found GJ9 was made to feed on very slim pickings indeed.
    Wedge, we’ll soon run out of words to sing Saliba’s praises, but I’m also in awe of White’s outputs. I didn’t take any look at the stats, but I have the feeling he won all of his duels, and that he did so without having to tackle once. He makes things look so easy, that it’s easy too not to take heed of how good he is. Actually, it took me some time to become aware of the kind of top-class defender he is. His assist for Thomas required a level of controlled technique worthy of Milan’s Baresi; if Southgate picks Coady-Maguire-Dier etc. ahead of him, he should be locked in a loony bin straight away.
    Had never heard of Ruby Murray, just listened to her “Danny Boy”, thanks for the spine-tingling moment too …

  • Enjoyed reading that, Kev. Happy for you that you got the chance to relieve some memories at the home of football, and what a day to do so.

    Taylor did hesitate (or appeared to do so) a bit before issuing the red card to Emerson Royal (some name, right out of a James Bond movie). My guess is the assistant ref or VAR had a word in his ears. That’s when he made his mind up. Granit Xhaka is having a good time of it and remains the leader of the team while Odegaard is our captain. It would have been nice to score 5 goals, for sure, but such is the pragmatism of managers of the game, these days, that keeping players fresh for midweek games in Europe and the need to manage the rest of the game becomes more important.

    Yesterday, Pep’s City took their foot off the pedal and allowed United in twice. The 3 points is what matters. The days when we would completely smash teams would come.

    PS: cannot understand the distorted writing box I encounter in my device, so typing “blind”, unable to review what I am posting.

  • My predictions for the weekend’s picks are as follows:

    Bournemouth v Leicester City H
    Chelsea v Wolves H
    Brighton & Hove Albion v Tottenham Hotspur * H 2-1
    Crystal Palace v Leeds United * D 2-2
    Arsenal v Liverpool * H 2-1
    Real Sociedad v Villarreal H

  • LG, Ruby Murray can certainly sing, but Kev was alluding to a curry, a bit of cockney rhyming slang. But I’m guessing you knew that…

    Thanks GN5
    Bournemouth v Leicester City D
    Chelsea v Wolves H
    Brighton & Hove Albion v Tottenham Hotspur * H 2-1
    Crystal Palace v Leeds United * H 1-0
    Arsenal v Liverpool * H 2-1
    Real Sociedad v Villarreal D

  • Yes Eris, my box on both BK and Highbury House has shrunk, not sure why?
    Typing blind is no fun is it mate.

    Madhu, enjoy your visit to London, I’m off today but Monday usually isn’t that busy as a lot of people still work from home and then come into the office Tues/Weds/Thurs.

    Yes, Stu is on the money Ruby or Ruby Murray = curry.

  • My uncle used to cook some, he had been taught the recipe by my grandpa back from london, who pronounced it “carry” – or so I’ve been told by my uncle, I don’t know if it’s the way cockneys actually do … but no, I didn’t know the nickname, when I googled it I found this:
    and couldn’t resist listening to the “inspirator” (a real soul sister’s voice she had)
    excellent article, btw

  • Sorry to hear some of you are having problems with writing comments at the moment. Not sure what that could be and I am no IT expert either.

  • Bournemouth vs Leicester… Home
    Chelsea vs Wolverhampton… Home
    Brighton vs Tottenham….. Draw (2-2)
    C.Palace vs Leeds Utd….. Home (3-1))
    Arsenal vs Liverpool……. Home (2-1)

  • LeG, I’d imagine that the North African influence would bring many spices into the French cuisine, curry in the UK is mainly from Bengal or Bangladesh and in particular the north-west of what was one East Pakistan, so going for an ‘Indian’ in the UK should really be going for a Bangladeshi. There is also a West Midlands and Yorkshire influence due to the domestic palate, it’s a fascinating subject and an much British these days as it is South Asian, I’m now feeling hungry…

  • I thought that generally Taylor had a good game, he tried to keep the tempo going and maybe missed a few fouls in the process but it preventing the stop/start that Conte would have preferred. He got the important decisions right I think…

  • Yes Total I was looking forward to experiencing the new atmosphere at the Emirates and it did not disappoint. There is a definite change in the attendees a much more youthful feel and of course with youth comes energy, it certainly seems as if lockdown convinced a lot of fans of an older vintage to retire to the TV and armchair and pass their tickets on to the next generation and it’s certainly rejuvenated the stadium, that and the influence of Arteta on the collective.

  • Kev, London’s finest cabbie.. wasn’t that title meant for you?

    Anyway, we did well after that deserved red card and Saliba did much better the entire game than Tomiyasu did against Son last season. And both gave a hell of a fight.

    We dropped in pace after Partey left but we managed to stay focused and did well.

    Talking about the north west derby yesterday, it seemed that Manu were sleeping in the first half and Citeh were just Citeh.. and God knows how long we can keep them behind us.

    A good weekend and hope everyone are well.


  • Bournemouth v Leicester City A
    Chelsea v Wolves H
    Brighton & Hove Albion v Tottenham Hotspur * D 1-1
    Crystal Palace v Leeds United * H 2-1
    Arsenal v Liverpool * D 2-2
    Real Sociedad v Villarreal H

  • I watched it on TV, TA..

    It doesn’t seem surreal that F1 is back on our shores, because the delayed start meant that the flag off came just after the North Eastern derby had kicked off.. and maybe I had an idea how tricky the conditions were on track that there is 0 chance of overtaking..

    The Red Bull is just so planted that it can overtake off the racing line, which is disappointing as I am rooting for Mercedes.

  • Dan Critchlow
    Hard not to feel like Balogun could be scoring even more goals if his team actually played with 11 players most games


    Critchlow has an excellent point here – 7 red cards in 8 games, French refereeing has gone completely insane.
    Well for teams like Reims actually, not PSG-Marseilles, for as we know ” For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
    On the other hand, out of these 720 minutes played by Reims, I must have watched at least 360, and I’m also concerned by the level of the team. Yesterday they played against Troyes and both teams were appalling. Actually, I quit watching after a while ; I felt like “laughing, for fear of having to cry”.
    Fo deserves much, much better than this, he’s been an alchemist in Reims so far, turning lead into gold, but that’s the PL he deserves, in an Arsenal shirt – period.

  • As Arsenal beat Tottenham Hotspur, Mikel Arteta came out with something that might have been as important as the three points. It wasn’t any talk of a title race, or anything as superficial as a message to the rest of the Premier League.

    It was instead an instruction to his players.

    Because, as commanding as Arsenal’s 3-1 win ended up looking, it didn’t quite feel like that at half-time. The game still felt fraught with risk then, primarily because of Arteta’s intentionally high line and the counters that invited.

    Given how the defeat by Manchester United went, with the same pattern, it would have been natural if the Arsenal players experienced some doubt.

    Centre backs William Saliba and Gabriel had to cut out breaks at the last moment on more than one occasion. Son Heung-Min, meanwhile, looked like he was constructed specifically to counter against this Arsenal.

    Arteta’s message in the face of this?

    Well, not to worry about it all. To do the opposite, to double down.

    He admitted he doesn’t talk about it. “When you don’t have the ball, if they win it, they can counter,” he said. “And the furthest the ball is, the more dangerous they are. So the closest to the six-yard box the ball is, the more dangerous Spurs are. And we know that, but Harry Kane is looking at our bench and puts the ball through two defenders, to Son. And you cannot defend that. There are certain things you cannot defend, and you have to accept them because it’s their quality and we have to play to our strengths, and what we cannot do is lose our strengths because we want to do something we are not.”

    There is a clear logic to that, but it invites another question. Is Arteta now the most idealistic manager in the Premier League? Is he the most extreme purist?

    Many will, of course, point to Pep Guardiola, but he was Arteta’s mentor, and the Basque is at a more formative stage of his career than the Manchester City coach.

    That is the point when a manager’s ideas tend to be their most uncomplicated. You only have to consider Guardiola’s own evolution. His approach has come full circle, involving all manner of improvisations and evolutions to perfect it, like a grand composer.

    Guardiola has incorporated more direct German pressing before going back to five-foot-eight false nines and then to Erling Haaland.

    Some of that must, of course, be put in the context of Man City’s immense resources, but it certainly feels like Guardiola has now sufficiently adapted his approach so that his possession can be as protective as it is proactive.

    His team is arguably closer to Spain 2010 in that regard – which is only a compliment. It is extreme control, although Haaland has stretched that a little.

    Arsenal, by contrast, seem a touch closer to Guardiola’s initial approach with Barcelona. That is in terms of tactics rather than outright quality. They can control a game, but there is always the inherent and profound risk they can be immediately undone by a swift counter. It is that classic “glass jaw” that Guardiola has generally worked out how to get around.

    Again, some of it comes back to resources and quality. Arteta is still building his team. It isn’t yet complete, but it is getting there. It means that he is even more committed to the approach because that is what gets them through.

    It was why this win was more important than even beating Spurs. It was about the vindication of an idea after the United loss.

    That was only sharpened by the extreme contrast between the teams. It was difficult to square this deeply defensive Spurs team with Antonio Conte’s Juventus 2011-14, who offered the kind of pressing Guardiola himself would have purred over.

    This was far closer to Jose Mourinho’s Spurs. The side was backloaded, and only ever attacked in response to what Arsenal did.

    If Arteta is now the most idealistic manager in the Premier League – although Roberto De Zerbi might now run him close at Brighton – it’s fair to ask whether Conte has become increasingly pragmatic, increasingly willing to compromise.

    Saturday showed a real contrast and perhaps where the game has been heading.

    By Miguel Delaney

  • Loaning our players to Ligue Un certainly seems the way to go, high class competition without the life & death you find in Angleland

  • I don’t think City have moved on. They are vulnerable as ever before but they do take their chances quicker. That’s the difference.

  • Awkward as it may sound, I do feel a sense of relief to know it is not just me having a problem with my device. Well, hopefully, it is sorted out soon enough, Kev.

    I agree with you about Taylor; thought he handled the game well enough and there were hardly any controversial moment one could really point to, which affected the game significantly..
    Kev, that write up is factual, largely. However, I also feel City do show vulnerabilities, at the most inauspicious times and against the most unexpected opponents. Unlike Arteta’s Arsenal, Pep’s City do not shy away from pressing home any advantage once they have opponents against the ropes, so they ramp up cricket scores at times. On the other hand, we dominate but score a few (when we even take the chances) and toy with the opponents till the final whistle, leaving every fan on edge. We are developing and on track to be the fearsome, respected team we should be again. Happy days are here…..

  • Some great reading above. Thanks fella’s.
    Mahdu, if you are still in London, The Star of Bombay in Notting Hill is a fabulous place for a curry, or (my personal fave) a Biryani.

  • Hi Stuart, nope I just went there yesterday for a meeting at Microsoft. Iam back in Solihull near Birmingham. For my food I usually avoid Indian 😊 as I get it ah home. I try different cuisine due to the excellent influence of Food Network. My knowledge about my food has increased manifold due to hours I spent watching food network. Iam in search of good Mexicana and Italian restaurant near here. One of the joys of travel is the variety of food you can try.

  • Eris, chatting to a mate on Highbury House and they had the same issue with their iPad, they think it’s connected to updates and how it affects the older tablets, she got a new one and hey presto the problem went away.

  • Nice one, Kev!

    I know that Daily Mail is a bullshit mill, but this story is quite heartwarming:

    “”[…] Richarlison was cutting in from the right hand side of the box and Gabriel’s dangling leg was enough for the Tottenham striker to go over. Yet the only reason Richarlison was able to get the ball in the first place was because of a poor touch from Granit Xhaka. The Arsenal midfielder’s loose control handed the ball to Richarlison in a dangerous position and Gabriel just couldn’t resist a challenge.
    The Daily Mail now claim that Xhaka went into the Arsenal dressing room at half-time and offered an apology to his teammates. Xhaka took responsibility for the goal as it came from his mistake, seemingly taking the fall over Gabriel.
    Xhaka may not be Arsenal captain anymore but that kind of leadership is what makes him such a valued member of Mikel Arteta’s squad.”

  • Kev, that was a great post. I laughed out loud at, “referee’s assistant Harry Kane” and “Captain Mumble”!

  • Bournemouth v Leicester City D
    Chelsea v Wolves H
    Brighton & Hove Albion v Tottenham Hotspur * H 3-2
    Crystal Palace v Leeds United * D 2-2
    Arsenal v Liverpool * H 3-2
    Real Sociedad v Villarreal D

  • Thanks, Kev, for the tip. That was playing at the back of my mind, you know. A typical Apple ploy to keep the sales going. I have had this device for a while now and I guess it will be due a replacement.

    On my way to Boston fo to attend a programme. Will reach a store soon as I get into Toronto.


  • That typo was because I couldn’t review and just was not sure where to edit. 😀

  • Mum is doing OK TA and finally seems to be getting used to living somewhere different. The staff at the home have gone out of their way to meet her needs which is nice but, unfortunately, they have just had another outbreak of covid so are locking done again

  • Thanks OX10.

    Eris, my iPad mini is 7 years old and is ok in all it’s other functions even if it’s beginning to slow down, I reckon that it might be time to upgrade very soon even if it goes against the grain.

  • Saw brief highlights of Liverpool vs Rangers, Liverpool had some chances in the 1st half but their finishing lacked conviction. Alexander Arnold scored from a direct free kick and Salah from a penalty, two dead ball goals! Rangers actually created a couple of late chances themselves and on another day might have stolen a draw, hardly the dominant Liverpool performance reported by the BBC…

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