For once footballing justice was seen to be done where a side wasting time to hang on to a draw had left Ashburton Grove with exactly what they deserved – nothing. Aided by referee Webb (aka Fergie’s rent boy) who was happy to let Krul take an eternity for every restart in play, the Toon army were flaunting triumphalism till the Verminator’s late strike gave them the heart break the Arsenal are so used to being on the receiving end of.
Following on from the impressive showing at the previous home game, as reported by Tim, the Gooner faithful were expectantly waiting for the good form to continue against a Newcastle side that have surprised many this so far this season.
Thanks to leaving my membership card at home your humble scribe was forced to queue up at the ticket office, close to the Armoury, for a paper ticket and therefore missed the first ten minutes of the game.
When I finally got to my seat the selection of Arfa instead of Cisse/Ameobi in the starting line-up suggested some attacking ambition to me from the Pardew, the Newcastle manager – who I was watching for any signs of bad behaviour on the touchline, as evidenced in his fracas with Martin O’Neill in his previous game.
Sure enough that selection option reaped dividends as no sooner had I settled into position then Arfa exploited a positional error by Gibbs and fired in a classy, virtually unstoppable, shot to score and put the away team in front.
At this point I felt like it was my fault and wondered whether I shouldn’t leave, but no sooner had I bemoaned my role as a bringer of bad luck than Theo sprinted towards me, positioned behind the Clock end goal, and rifled in a cross which Robin bundled in, exactly how I couldn’t see as most of the Clock end was already standing, arms and scarfs waving.
That was as swift a reply as is possible to going behind to the oppositions only forward foray and it’s worth pointing out even after the Arfa goal there were no groans from the crowd, just singing/cheering to urge the good guys on. Even the equaliser caused mass celebrations and I got carried away in hugging a stranger in the next seat as the solidarity amongst the supporters appears to strengthen game by game.
The Toon army were silenced and the “We pay your benefits” chants aimed at them caused much glee in the aftermath of the equaliser once the “He scores when he wants” died down.
During the first half the difference between the two wide players of the front three was painfully obvious, Theo was having a storming game whereas The Ox was subdued and didn’t seem to want the ball much. The Ox’s inexperience and youth means we are going to get games like this from him occasionally and as long as the fans show patience with him we are going to have a superstar on our hands.
Rosicky was driving forward and pushing for space in the midfield and getting a fair amount of kicking from Newcastle (and Tiote in particular) which Fergie’s rent boy was happy to wave play on, as you’d expect from the man who allowed a king fuck kick by De Jong on Alonso in the World Cup final.
Webb always seems to want to be the star of the show and his overly demonstrative style of refereeing, coupled with his poor decision making, is always going to make him the ref you don’t want in charge of your teams game unless, of course, you support the plastics of Salford FC, from Old Toilet.
To be fair to the Newcastle players when Kozzer was caught on the follow through of a tackle and went down they did stop play, something many teams would not have done.
However the goodwill for that gesture was drained away by Krul’s persistent time wasting tactics when taking goal kicks and free kicks. It was gratifying to hear that as soon as he started this mid-way through the first half the home support started the whistles and booing to highlight his poor sportsmanship.
In situations like this where the team need a certain extra push to drive them on it was great to see and hear how the crowd got behind the team as a red and white tide surged at the Newcastle back line relentlessly in wave after wave of Arsenal attacks.
The change in atmosphere at the Grove during this season will make the hacks lazy assumption that Arsenal have quiet home support look as fatuous as it is specious.
The second half started much as the first half ended with Arsenal attacking and Pardew jigging like a dancing fool on the touchline resplendent in his “Man at C & A” suit that made him look like a parking valet. As we’ve come to expect from him he was haranguing officials all through the game and encroaching on Wenger’s technical area primed to reprise his jig of joy in Wenger’s face from their meeting at Upton Park.
When a Newcastle player went down and the Toon army jeered Arsenal for not stopping play, the hilarity of the Newcastle players not stopping play either when they regained possession made Pardew’s protests look as foolish as the man himself.
Krul’s’ time wasting worsened as the second half went on and Robin ended up running up to him while he dithered around with the ball in order to speed things up and that sowed the seeds of the later confrontation.
Again the crowd didn’t let this go unnoticed and even though Webb did nothing the fourth official was noting the delays so when 5 minutes of injury time came up the Newcastle players shoulders visibly sagged as holding back the Arsenal attacks was wearing them down.
A Gervinho sliced miss and a few headers which Krul did well to keep out in injury time made me think we would have to settle for a draw but as the stadium clock read 9.53 (5 minutes would be up by 9.54) another cross from Theo resulted in the ball in the net – who was the scorer I couldn’t see as everyone leapt up as one and cheered themselves hoarse and yours truly spent the next 90 seconds turned to the away supports and swearing at them as Ashburton Grove reverberated to the sound of a stadium packed with ecstatic Gooners.
I could make out a bundle at the corner of the north bank and West stand where the exultant arsenal players celebrated the deserved winner.
While the man pile, at the bottom of which was the match winner the Verminator, was breaking up Chesney had jogged up to the centre spot where the ball had been placed and cheekily kicked it to the corner flag in front of the away supporters – as if to say to Krul that he was not the only one who could waste time.
Robin was waving his hands up to urge the crowd to make more noise for the end of the match and the crowd upped the volume levels even more with few empty seats even this deep into injury time.
The speed at which Newcastle were re starting play for the final few seconds was priceless – Krul especially ran to take a free kick after a Theo off side with unbelievable sprinting ability. The irony of the injury time that Krul built up allowing the late winner was delicious.
It was too little urgency too late from Pardew’s pretenders and when Webb finally blew up the orgasmic relief of the Arsenal gaining three vital points was shown not only by the scarves held up in all corners of the stadium but by the ferocity of the celebrations thereafter. Sights and sounds to that I’ll never forget.
The Krul-Robin flare up at the end was an amusing coup de grace in the feud between the two Dutchmen as the guilty party was left to pick the ball out of the net.
The team could to be proud of their efforts as could the supporters who have been building up better and better atmospheres for the players to thrive in as the season has gone on.
If we keep up these kinds of performances (hopefully without going a goal down first though) then the catastrophe of the summer transfer window and the subsequent poor start to the season will seem a distant memory
Justice had been done and now all that remained was to listen for the sound of choking from up the Seven Sisters Road as the happy Gooners made their way home.