My Love for Arsenal! by Joseph82
My love for Arsenal started back in 1989, I was only 7 and I hadn’t shown any interest in football before then.
It would be fair to say that I was a glory hunter, I don’t remember any of that season, and it was the season that Arsenal won the league title on the last day of the season away to Liverpool.
Arsenal had to win 2-0 at Anfield to take the title, people had written Arsenal off, we should have wrapped up the title a long time ago, we had ourselves to blame.
This was a time when league matches were shown on ITV, and when the shorts were really short.
Everyone that loved football was switched on to watch this last game of the season, myself I was probably playing with my He-Man or Transformers toys.
On this day Alan Smith scored with a header on the 52nd minute, with the whole nation was on the edge of their seats, could Arsenal really do the impossible?
In the dying minutes of stoppage time, the ball fell to Michael Thomas, not known for his goal scoring ability, hearts were in mouths.
Brian Moore on commentary “Arsenal come streaming forward now in surely what will be their last attack. A good ball by Dixon, finding Smith, for Thomas, charging through the midfield. Thomas, it’s up for grabs now!”
Arsenal had won; there was an eruption of joy across North London, and at home in my house.
My oldest brother was an Arsenal supporter, to see him full of joy, I wanted a piece of that, and I think that was the moment I became an Arsenal fan.
That match is considered to be the most dramatic conclusion to a league season in the history of the English game, I don’t think I’ve witnessed greater end to a season.( Some people may argue that and say last season when Manchester City won the league in the dying minutes)
I would bug my brother about Arsenal, asking as many questions that I could, I wanted to know everything.
Still I was young and I didn’t really follow the league for the next couple of seasons, after 1989 league win, Arsenal were unable to retain the title.
1989-1990 season Liverpool reclaimed the title for their last time in recent history.
We would recapture the title in the following season 1990-1991, leaving it to the last day again.
On this day we played Manchester United, the title was between us and Liverpool again, Liverpool had a lunchtime game at Nottingham Forrest, if they were to lose we would be champions before kicking a ball against Manchester.
In the 64th minute Ian Woan scored the winner for Nottingham Forrest; Arsenal had won the title, still we had a game to play, we were champions but George Graham sent out his men to win.
On this day we beat Manchester United 3-1 Alan Smith scored a hatrick and then the celebrations began.
This was a well deserved title win for Arsenal, only losing one match throughout the whole season, a feat that would be surpassed by another great Arsenal team in 2003-2004 team that is known as the Invincibles.
I have to admit I don’t remember much of 1990-1991 season, it would be the following season I would start to follow Arsenal faithfully.
This would also be the last season of the old league, Arsenal were unable to retain the championship for the last time, finishing 4th.
In the 1992 Premier League started and this is when the world started to take notice of the English league, it wouldn’t be until 1998 that we would win the premier league title.
Arsenal would claim other honours over the years, in 1993 Arsenal would go onto win a cup double, facing Sheffield Wednesday in both finals of the Coca Cola Cup and Fa Cup.
The 1993 Coca Cola Cup Final took place on the 18th April, Arsenal won this match 2-1.
Sheffield Wednesday took the lead in 8th minute through John Harkes.
Paul Merson scored the equaliser, going into half-time it was 1-1 the game was still there for the taking.
On the 68th minute Paul Merson then set up Steve Morrow for the winner.
Morrow was unable to collect his medal, during the celebrations after the final whistle Tony Adams decided to hoist Morrow up onto his shoulders and parade the match winner.
Unfortunately Tony Adams and, Morrow fell awkwardly, in the process breaking his arm, so he was rushed to hospital.
Morrow would collect his winners medal before the FA Cup final against Sheffield Wednesday.
Arsenal would go on to win the FA Cup final beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 after extra time.
This success would make Arsenal the first English team to achieve the domestic cup double.
The cup final also marked the final appearance for veteran defender David O’Leary in an Arsenal jersey.
1994 I remember this year for Arsenal ‘cause they would be the first team to bring back a European championship since the English league was banned from Europe.
I followed all the games on ITV, it felt like that the whole country was behind Arsenal.
My parents really didn’t follow football or care enough for it but ‘cause us kids followed Arsenal, they would take an interest.
So we all would sit down and watch the Cup Winners Cup games on ITV, dad would make comments about the game and the players, Arsenal was one of the things that brought us together as a family.
The final was contested on 4th May 1994 against Parma, the final was held at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Ian Wright missed this game ‘cause he was suspended.
We would go onto win the game 1-0 with an Alan Smith goal, Arsenal became the fourth London club to win the trophy.
My love of football didn’t go any further than watching them, if Arsenal were on Tv they would come first!
I would feel their pain when they lost, and be full of joy when they won!
At school collecting the premiership stickers, never really cared about completing the sticker book, All I wanted to complete was Arsenal double page.
I didn’t like to play football at break-time at school ‘cause there was never enough time to play a match during the break.
I love playing football during P.E, I felt that we didn’t play it enough; I was one of those kids that would usually get picked last.
I never really excelled at sports, playing Rounder’s once I almost knocked a teacher out with the bat; I threw the bat behind me after striking the ball.
Football is one of those sports that anyone can play, all you have to know is the off-side rule, how to kick a ball and tackle.
I like to think I was a good little player, all of the kids at school thought I was, everyone wanted me to join the schools football team.
I really wanted to play but I knew that my parents couldn’t afford to buy me studded boots or shin pads, so I never trialled for the school team.
At primary school I would play the striker role, I wanted to be like Alan Smith or Ian Wright, the striker is the centre of attention, you score the goals and everyone loves you.
When I got to senior school I found myself playing more of a defensive role, I was a small kid, so should have played on the wing but I was never a good passer of the ball.
What I liked about playing in defence was to tackle; I wanted to emulate Tony Adams or Martin Keown, I would go in with both feet, thankfully I never hurt anyone.
I would also play football with all the neighbours kids, when playing we take turns in different positions, for me it was an opportunity to emulate another Arsenal hero.
If I was in goal I would be mister safe hands David Seamen, in my opinion the greatest goalkeeper of all time!
I would feel pain during the 1995 UEFA Cup Winners Cup final against Real Zaragoza.
Arsenal were hoping to break the Cup Winner Cup curse of being the only team to retain the trophy, unfortunately they couldn’t break that curse.
Juan Esnaider opened the scoring for Real Zaragoza, John Hartson got the equaliser for Arsenal.
The game went into extra time, and looked to be heading to penalty shoot out and with safe hands David Seaman in goal Arsenal would be favourites to win.
In the dying minutes of extra time Nayim scored a spectacular goal with a 40 yard lob catching David Seaman off his line, I always remember Seamen falling back with one arm stretched out but could not quite reach.
With that goal Real Zaragoza won the Cup Winners Cup, when your team loses for that one moment you just don’t want to speak to anyone.
George Graham then was sacked from his post over dodgy transfer dealings.
Bruce Rioch was then appointed Arsenal Manager for 1995/96 season, I never warmed to him.
He did bring in Dennis Bergkamp and David Platt, to his credit.
I just remember that season there was a lot of unrest in the Arsenal dressing room, especially with Ian Wright; I was worried that Wright would leave.
5 days before 1996/97 season Bruce Rioch was relieved of his duties, Arsenal had another man in line by the name of Arsene Wenger, he couldn’t start until September.
The back page headlines were Arsene Who? No-one didn’t know what to expect from this man, there was a lot Arsenal supporters that were worried.
In the papers there were reports of different fitness routines, players not being happy with Arsene style of play. The following season Arsene would silence those doubters, including myself.
1997 saw the release of Fever Pitch, even if you’re not an Arsenal fan, any football fan can relate to the story and his love for the team.
Fever Pitch is one of my favourite films, I have at times put Arsenal ahead of my partner at the times.
I don’t want a partner to love Arsenal in the way I do, all I ever want is for my partner to take an interest in Arsenal like Sarah does in Fever Pitch.
Season 1997/98 Arsene full season as manager, a double winning season, probably my favourite season in years ‘cause I still remember so many matches from that season.
First game to remember is the game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, London derby were always tough and this game looked like it was heading for 2-2.
Chelsea was down to 10 men after Franck Le Beouf was sent off at the 66th minute for a 2nd bookable offence.
On the 88th Minute Nutty boy Nigel Winterburn scored his greatest goal of his career letting fly with 50 yarder. The curling, arching effort was Ed de Goey’s top left-hand corner before he could even react.
Arsenal home against Manchester United, Arsenal took an early 2-0 lead with goals from Anelka and Vieira, Sheringham scored two goals so going in at halftime it was 2-2
Being a fan you fear the worst, Teddy Sheringham was one of those players that I never liked, I was convinced he would get his hatrick.
With 10 minutes to go, also known as squeaky bum time if the opponents are on the offensive.
Arsenal managed to get a corner on the 83rd minute, which David Platt met with a header that went into the top corner, Arsenal won the match 3-2.
Come March time the bookies started prematurely paying out on bets of United winning the league title.
Arsenal had other ideas; Arsenal travelled to Old Trafford and did the double by beating Manchester United 1-0. 10 minutes from time Marc Overmars scored from a flick on by Anelka, Arsenal silenced the theatre of dreams.
The gap in the league was still 6 points, Arsenal had 3 games in hand and for the first time the destiny of the league was in Arsenal own hands.
From then on Arsenal went onto to win the 9 following games, the next game was against Everton at Highbury. If Arsenal won this game, they would win the league with two games to spare.
I still have this match on VHS, people expected Everton to put on a tough resistance ‘cause they were fighting relegation.
Arsenal had nothing to worry about, Arsenal were 3-0 up before half-time, what made this match for me was the fourth goal, which was scored by Tony Adams.
It was the final minute of normal time, it was manufactured by the Arsenal old guard, Bould won a tackle and chipped a ball forward. Tony Adams managed to run onto it, and score a near perfect goal. It is still one of my favourite goals of all time, I remember jumping around the house like a lunatic, we’d already won the league that was the perfect end to a great season.
Arsenal season wasn’t over yet, they had an FA Cup final against Newcastle to play at Wembley.
A tradition that I miss is the FA Cup final song and this was the season that Arsenal covered Hot Stuff, whenever I hear this song it brings a smile to my face, it reached number 5 in the charts.
Arsenal won the match 2-0 with goals from Marc Overmars and Anelka, Arsenal had won the double.
This being the first time I witnessed Arsenal winning a double, I was 15 years old at the time so was living at home.
Having Sky Sports I was able to watch every game, and truly remember this season.
We would go onto win another double in 2002; we will get to that later.
The following season we weren’t able to retain the league or FA Cup, we lost the league to Manchester United by one point.
We also lost to Manchester United in the FA Cup semi final, the first game ended in 0-0, the replay would be played 4 days later.
United went onto to win the game 2-1 Giggs scoring the winner in the 2nd half of extra time.
It was a painful game to watch, Beckham scored the first, Bergkamp equalised. Then Arsenal took the game to Manchester United, Anelka scored but was ruled off-side.
In the second half Roy Keane was sent off for 2 bookable offences, United had to play the rest of the game with 10 men.
Phil Neville fouled Ray Parlour in the penalty area, Bergkamp stood up to take the penalty, Schmeichel parried the shot away.
It just wasn’t Arsenal’s game, Giggs scored a solo effort, picking up possession on the half way line after a loose pass from Patrick Vieira, dribbling past the entire Arsenal back line before shooting just under David Seaman.
The goal was the last ever scored in FA Cup Semi final replay, which was abolished the following season.
We would go a couple of seasons until we’d claim our next trophy, which would be the Fa Cup 2002.
Though Arsenal were close to winning the FA Cup in 2001, losing the final to Liverpool 2-1 at the Millennium Stadium.
With last season’s disappointment still fresh in our mind, we knew that the Chelsea wouldn’t be a pushover.
The final was played on 4th May 2002 at the Millennium Stadium, Arsenal won the match 2-0 with goals from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljunberg.
The match is remembered for Tim Lovejoy famous quote “It’s only Ray Parlour” who scored seconds later in the top corner.
There was a still a league title to win, Arsenal were in first position, but still needed a point to be crowned champions.
Which they achieved in their next game against 2nd place Manchester United on May 8th Arsenal won 1-0 at Old Trafford with a goal from Wiltord.
Arsenal achieved their second double under Arsene Wenger, made only sweeter by beating Manchester at their home ground.
Arsenal were unable to retain the league finishing 2nd the following season but they continued their love affair with the FA Cup.
In 2003 Arsenal faced Southampton in the final at the Millennium Stadium ended 1-0 with a 38th minute goal by Robert Pires.
Arsenal were captained by David Seaman for this match, which would also be Seaman’s last game in an Arsenal shirt.
2003/2004 season would be the last time Arsenal would win the league in the recent history.
This season Arsenal emulated Preston unbeaten run in winning the league, their final record for the season was 26 wins and 12 draws, an unbeaten run not matched in any single season by any team in an English league division.
To add the cherry on top of the cake, Arsenal won the league at Tottenham, Arsenal only needing a point and got their point with a 2-2.
The Premier league commissioned a special gold version of the Premier League trophy to commemorate Arsenal’s unbeaten season.
I hope that I don’t ever witness another team going the whole season unbeaten in my lifetime.
Arsenal continued their unbeaten run into the next season, finally losing after 49 games against Manchester United.
Our last trophy was the FA Cup 2005 against Manchester United at the Millennium Stadium 21st May.
It was a one sided game, Manchester United were all over Arsenal for the 120 minutes, Arsenal were able to hold on and become the first club to win the cup on penalties.
I was happy to win the Cup but I wasn’t proud the way that Arsenal won it and I hate saying it but we didn’t deserve to win that match.
Arsenal reached the Champions League final in 2006, they would face Barcelona at the Stade De France in Paris on May 16th.
Arsenal were top of their group and throughout the knockout stages didn’t concede any goals against the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus and Villarreal
This is a game where Arsenal deserved to win, but ended up being the losers in a hard fought match.
Arsenal had Jens Lehman sent off early in the first half, however they took the lead via a Sol Campbell header towards the end of the first half. Barcelona came back in the 2nd half with a Samuel Eto’o goal near the end of the 2nd half and a few minutes later Juliano Belleti scored the winner for Barcelona and in the process breaking the hearts of the many Arsenal followers.
Arsenal bade farewell to Highbury on 7th May 2006, beating Wigan 4-2 to pip Tottenham to a Champion League Spot in the league.
Highbury will be always be Arsenal’s spiritual home, Arsenal played there for 93 years but the Emirates Stadium is the future for Arsenal.
Since we’ve been at the Emirates the trophy cabinet lays bare, every season that passes we make excuses for Arsenal, at times I genuinely believed that we had been the best team in the league.
The 2007/ 2008 season Arsenal were having a great season and were top of the league until Eduardo broke his leg in horrific tackle, from that moment Arsenal season fell apart.
We drew that game with Birmingham, then followed that with 3 draws against against Aston Villa, Wigan & Middlesbrough and then a loss to Chelsea, our season was truly over from that point.
The thing with Arsenal through all the heartache, there is still many memorable matches.
Even when our season fell apart in 2008 we were still able to make history being the first English team to beat AC Milan at San Siro 2-0 to reach the Quarter Finals of the Champions League.
We’ve had some classic matches with Barcelona in recent years, Wednesday 16th March 2011 Barcelona came to the Emirates.
The first 10 minutes of the game we bossed Barcelona, having several opportunties but Barcelona would take the lead with a goal from David Villa on 26th minute.
Barcelona took control of the game and it looked like there would only be one winner of this game!
The 2nd half started the same way and things didn’t look, around the 68th minute Arsene rung the changes taking off Song for Arshavin.
Arsenal started to come back into the game, we went on the offense, Barcelona went on the defense.
Arsenal had 5 minutes of magic on the 78th minute Robin Van Persie equalised from the tightest angle possible.
5 minutes later Nasri found a wide open Arshavin who slammed home the winner, we beat Bareclona 2-1.
The joy didn’t last for long, Barcelona would beat us at the Nou Camp in the return leg 3-1 winning the match 4-3 on aggregate.
Barcelona were the better team, dominating us in the first half, Messi scoring a goal in the dying minutes of the first half.
We equalised through Busquet own goal in 53rd minute, being an Arsenal fan I believe that we were starting to find our feet.
The game changed when Robin Van Persie was harshly sent off for a 2nd yellow card, minutes after we equalised. RVP was shown a 2nd yellow card for taking a shot at goal after the whistle had been blown for off-side, I generally believe he didn’t hear the whistle it was a shocking a decision.
Barcelona then took over and went onto win the game.
Last season biggest joy was seeing the legend that is Theirry Henry return to Arsenal for a brief loan spell.
Nobody could have written a better story than the moment that he scored the 78th minute winner against Leeds.
Watching that game and seeing the way Henry celebrated that goal running to Arsene showed you how much he loved Arsenal, we don’t see that enough in the game anymore!
In recent years we seen an exdous at Arsenal, many players leaving Theirry Henry, Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor, Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri, Robin Van Persie and Alex Song.
If half of these players had stayed, I’m sure we would have seen some trophies in the Emirates.
It’s early days for Arsenal this season, we have started fairly well it would have been better if we started with a win against Sunderland. A draw with Stoke away is a good result and beating Liverpool at Anfield couldn’t have asked for more.
We have kept three clean sheets so far this season, many people say this down to our new assistant manager Steve Bould and being a fan of the old guard I believe in that!
The three new players that Arsene brought in Santi Cazorla, Lukus Podolski, Olivier Giroud all look promising so far!
My thoughts on Arsenal this season I think we look good, defensively we look strong and I’m happy that Thomas Vermaelen is captain, a leader from the back is what a good team always needs!
I honestly think that Arsenal have one of the best midfields in the league, I really wouldn’t swap a player and with Wilshere returning in October we’re looking good.
Our weakness does lies in attack, hopefully the new boys will find thier feet quickly in the league.
Even if the new boys settle in quick, we have to pray that they stay injury free all season ’cause we don’t have enough cover on the bench in attack!
It is sad that Robin Van Persie left, I think if he stayed we would have been a true force to reckon with, he is a goal machine!
I honestly think we have a better team than Manchester United, they look weak in defense and midfield but fuck me they have the best strike force in the league.
Manchester City have class all over the pitch, the problem with Manchester City they are still a fairly new team. A team needs to gel together, Mancini brought in more players and for me this can bring unrest in the team. With the money and quality, the champions are the team to beat, I’m just not sure if they can retain the league.
A team that started well is Chelsea and a part of me thinks they will be the team to beat, yes they have lost some players thankfully Drogba but they have spent well in the summer.
They look like a strong unit, I think Roberto Di Matteo done a fantastic job at Chelsea, and after winning FA Cup and Champions League last season they look to add more silverware this year!
So Arsenal are the dark horse this season and the next three games will be the true test, Southampton, followed by Manchester City away and then Chelsea at home.
Our defense will be put to the test in those games, and if we can come a way without losing a game maybe the invincibles will return; we can dream and that is why I love Arsenal!
In Arsene we trust!