Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Arsenal Celebrate 125 Years With A 1-0 Win Over Everton

Arsenal played Everton on Saturday afternoon in the Premier League in a game that was vital to their chances of keeping pace with the clubs ahead of them. It was also a very important day for the club, as they celebrated the 125th anniversary of their foundation.

I was lucky enough to get a ticket and make my way to London with a few fellow Arsenal fans on a very early flight. We got to the ground very early and got some photos of the fantastic new statues outside the stadium which were unveiled last Friday. After that it was a quick trip to the club shop to pick up some souvenirs of our day.

The local hostelries then beckoned and we made our way to the Tollington for a few pre-match beverages. With our throats suitably lubricated we made our way to the stadium just after 2p.m. in plenty of time for the eventss organised to celebrate the momentous occasion.

I have to admit the hairs on my arms stood on end, as a procession of ex-Arsenal players were introduced to the crowd. As kick off time approached the festivities ended, and the really important business of the day got underway.

It was obvious from an early stage that Everton had come to frustrate Arsenal, and they would have been perfectly content with a 0-0 draw. The Arsenal team was as expected with Thomas Vermaelen moving to left back to compensate for the injured Andre Santos. It meant Johan Djourou played at right back, and Arsenal didn't have a recognised full back on the pitch.

I thought Arsenal struggled to find any width as a result, as there was nobody to overlap on the two wide players. With the news that Santos will be out for three months Arsene Wenger will have to decide whether he has to purchase a new left back in the January transfer window. When Kieran Gibbs is fit again in a few weeks he will be the first choice left back, but he is incredibly injury prone.

I think it would be a big mistake not to replace Santos with a new signing, as Arsenal are still far from assured of a top four finish. The strain on the defenders who are still available to play could become too much to bear if some of the four injured full backs don't return soon. I doubt if Arsenal will sign a left back, and I really hope it doesn't cope back to haunt them.

When Arsenal missed three good scoring chances against Everton I was worried that they had blown their chances of keeping pace at the right end of the table. As it turned out Robin van Persie came to the rescue with a fantastic goal, and Arsenal made up three points on both Spurs and Manchester City.

They will face City on Sunday afternoon in a game that could blow the title race wide open if Arsenal get all three points, but it won't be an easy task for them. Before that game Arsenal will find out who their opponents will be in the last 16 of the Champions League when the draw is made this Friday.

If I'm really lucky I'll get to go to the home leg of that Champions League tie, and hopefully have as good a time as I had on Saturday. The after game celebrations in the Tollington were great as I spent the night talking to loads of Arsenal fans I had met on twitter. I also spent a good hour singing songs about famous Arsenal victories with 10 Arsenal fans in Santa Claus costumes.

Life doesn't get much better than that for an Arsenal fan, and I'm looking forward to my next sojourn already.
 I know I'm more than a little late in recounting my memories of the weekend, but I've been a very busy man since my return.

That's it for today.

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See You Tomorrow

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