Tuesday, September 26, 2023

We wanted Highbury magic. We got Highbury magic.

Well we were looking for Highbury magic and we got it, no question about it. Before the match there was the bizarre story of Sp*rs wanting to postpone their game because 10 of their players were struck down with food poisoning. They even called the police in about it but in the end decided to play the game rather than face FA sanctions. We saw Boro docked three points some seasons ago for something similar and those three points would have kept them up. Whatever happened Sp*rs obviously decided their best chance was to play the game.

It didn’t, as we all know now, work out well for them as they went down 2-1 to West Ham despite Teddy Sheringham missing a penalty for the Hammers. I don’t think there’s anybody in the world that knows anything about football that would have put money on him to score it. Seriously dodgy but thankfully it didn’t matter.

Naturally we didn’t make life easy for ourselves despite taking an early lead through Robert Pires. Just after we scored the news filtered through that West Ham had gone ahead and as people were celebrating that Wigan scored. A free kick was whipped in, Campbell lost his man and it was 1-1. We were also lucky that Uriah Rennie is shit referee and somehow thought that Campbell upending his man in the box was not a penalty to Wigan. I doubt the referee in the Champions League final would be so generous and it’s probably because Roberts tried to stay on his feet rather than tumble like Eto’o or Ronaldinho would that we got away with it. A while later Wigan went ahead when Thompson whipped in a free kick which was reminiscent of Quedrue’s goal for Boro during that 5-3 spectacular. “Bollocks”, I thought. Not for long though as Pires played Henry in and he finished in style to make it 2-2 at the break.

Thierry Henry kisses the Highbury turfIn the second half there was more Highbury magic when Thompson played a back pass straight to Thierry Henry who rounded the keeper to make it 3-2. We made some subs bringing on Ljungberg for Pires and later van Persie and Bergkamp. Freddie had only been on the pitch a few seconds when he was felled in the box by a Wigan sub who had only been on a similar amount of time. This time Rennie gave the penalty and sent off the Wigan player. It might have gone well for us this time but in the future we’re going to suffer at his hands and it was a very harsh red card. Still, no sympathy from Thierry as he stepped up, scored, sealed his hat-trick and the game. A couple of moments later Highbury erupted as West Ham went two up against Sp*rs.

And so it stayed until the end. Arsenal came back from 2-1 down to win 4-2, a nobbled Sp*rs did their best and even a helping hand from a former player couldn’t seal the deal, they get UEFA cup football, we go to the CL qualifiying rounds, Thierry Henry scored a hat-trick at the last ever Highbury game and really you couldn’t have written the script any better. Just amazing.

Afterwards Thierry said:

That was the perfect send-off. We are fourth in the league and the table does not lie after 38 games, so we deserve to be in this position. It’s not normally what we do, finish fourth, but we will take that this season. No one now can say we didn’t deserve it. Now we are going to play in the final of the Champions League.

Arsene Wenger thinks that 4th place could convince Henry, who he described as the ‘best striker in the world’, to stay, saying:

He has given us no encouragement so far but we must respect that until he wants to make a decision, I believe we have something special happening here and I’ll encourage Thierry to stay.

He was also happy with the way we said goodbye to Highbury, the special stadium:

For the history of the club and for this building here, to finish on a high I am very proud. We would all have felt guilty to have walked out of here on a low after what has happened here for years. There was fantastic excitement, strength of character and quality as well.

There will be all sorts of speculation and analysis about Thierry Henry’s future at the club. Does the fact he was talking to Ashley Cole at the end mean anything? Maybe, but only if you consider I’m told Cole’s future is now more likely to be at Arsenal than anywhere else. Does his kissing the turf mean he’s going to go? Does me having a poo mean I’m going to go support Chelsea? Fact is we’re all as much in the dark as we were before. Personally I think he’s going to stay. I have no inside information to back that up, it’s just what I think. It would suprise me if he left but we can go over this another day. All I will say is that for the best Arsenal player I have ever seen to score a hat-trick on the last day at Highbury is just something special. Well done, Thierry, and well done everyone else for ensuring the league season finished on a relatively high note.

Last game at Highbury, Arsenal - Wigan

How brilliant did everything look yesterday? The pitch was magnificent – the Highbury 1913-2006 mowed into the grass was a nice touch – the red and white stripes in the stand were fantastic and almost made up for the fact that we weren’t in red and white for our final season at our home. The t-shirts looked great, the Chairman especially dapper in his and what a classy move by the club to make up blue ones for the Wigan fans as well. They might have been pie-eating twats singing the ‘same old Arsenal’ song but I’m sure some of them appreciated the gesture, the likes of which no other club in the league would have made. And the noise. Watching at home the hairs on the back of my ncek were standing up listening to some of the songs (Ohhh, Rocky Rocky!), I can only imagine how it must have been to be there.

It was a day that will live long in the memories for everyone. For the people inside the ground, for the thousands who just hung around in the pubs around Highbury to soak up the atmosphere, for the people watching at home all around the world. The results, the way things went our way despite doing it the Arsenal way – which is the difficult way – made it a magical day. A fitting goodbye to Highbury. What more could we have asked for? Hopefully we’ll have a picture special here on Arseblog in the next day or two thanks to some happy snapping regulars!

In a quick round-up of other stories it seems that Arsene Wenger’s suggestion that Sven take Theo Walcott to the World Cup is not as far fetched as we might have thought. Reports this morning suggest that our youngster is set to be named in the 28 man squad which is whittled down to 23 at a later date. With serious doubts over Owen and Rooney he might even sneak in.

Sp*rs are threatening to sue the Premier League and the Marriott Hotel where the players stayed prior to the West Ham game. Dodgy lasagne seems to have been the culprit. Was the person who made the bechemel sauce a Gooner? Who knows? I’m not sure they’ve got much chance though.

Right, it’s another week, the season’s over and now we just have the small matter of a Champions League final to talk about for the next few days. Till tomorrow.

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