When we last played Arsenal in the league we had the better of them in the first half and were 2-1 up, then the second half came, and we capitulated. That was our last defeat, on the 2nd December (we lost 4-2). Since then we’ve had a good run (undefeated). Then we get a rematch in the quarter-finals of the League Cup against Arsenal, and this time there were no hiccups. We convincingly beat the Gooners 2-0, and on their own turf to boot, to progress to the semi-finals, where we will face Chelsea.
Could this season be the year of the silverware? Of course it could if the winds are blowing in the right direction.
Before making my way to Arsenal, I decided to go on a detour to Tottenham and have a look around the stadium and then into the club shop. How it has come on since my last visit a couple of months ago (or was that weeks ago?). In the club shop, I bought a bag, coat and other items. I left the store at 3.20 and made my way to Sainsbury’s (where my car was parked) and then, after leaving, got caught in the traffic – about an hour – before finally getting to Goodmayes at 5pm. Parked at Hanna’s house (she was at work), got a bus to Goodmayes station, from there to Stratford and then to Highbury and Islington. Got there at 5.50. Funnily enough, it wasn’t that cold for this time of year. Made my way to the stadium and met Martin, his father and others. Got into the stadium (bag check etc.) and then chatted to other supporters and then to our seats (or standing position).
The atmosphere was very volatile.
I thought we started, as we had in previous matches, very slowly and on the back-foot, but once warmed up we went for it. This also warmed up the crowd who could sense something special here.
Goals in both halves; Son Heung-min and Dele Alli gave us victory over our bitter rivals Arsenal and secured a two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final against Chelsea. Son pounced on Alli’s smart ball over the top to put Spurs in front after just 20 minutes at the Emirates. Alli then coolly chipped it over keeper Petr Cech with the outside of his boot in the second half to make it 2-0.
The crowd were ecstatic, and there was a lot of abuse directed at Arsenal (and Arsenal supporters at Spurs). We hugged, clapped and jumping for joy as they (supporters & players alike) looked frustrated and annoyed.
Alli was then hit on the head by a plastic bottle thrown from the Arsenal crowd shortly after his goal. The match was a heated atmosphere at what was the second north London derby in 18 days; victory ensured we made the last four for the first time since 2014-15. Back then, we went on to the final and were beaten by Chelsea. I also noticed that there were fights between Arsenal and Spurs supporters with the stewards and police getting involved (this was just after the bottle incident).
We mustn’t forget that Paulo Gazzaniga made two excellent saves in the first half of Wednesday’s quarter-final – denying Henrikh Mkhitaryan from close range and later tipping Aaron Ramsey’s volley on to the post.
As for the second half, Alexandre Lacazette hit the post and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s cross curled onto the top of the crossbar before Christian Eriksen’s fizzing shot was saved by Cech. The Arse had not lost back-to-back matches prior to this defeat since they were beaten by Manchester City and Chelsea in the Premier League back in August. But it is always nice to see the Gunners slip down or out of competitions. More so when we are the orchestrator of their demise (let us hope it will continue).
We will be at home in the first leg, scheduled for the week commencing 7 January, with the return at Stamford Bridge a fortnight later. Holders Manchester City will take on League One side Burton in the other semi-final.
After the match I ended up in the Arsenal crowd, going to Highbury and Islington, on the other side was the Spurs supporters. On my side abuse and objects were directed at Spurs supporters. Luckily I had nothing on me that showed my loyalties. After about half-an-hour wait, to let the Spurs supporters through I finally got my train and got back to Goodmayes at 11.35pm. Had a cup of tea at Hanna’s house and then finally got home at 2.10am. Then I had to get up at 8 to go shopping with my daughter. Well and truly knackered.
A well-deserved victory, and now we move on to Everton on Sunday (away). Then Christmas, followed by Boxing day match against Bournemouth at home. On top of all that, we are going to have months of speculation about Pochettino; my hunch is that he will stay. He has already built a good atmosphere and squad here. Why would he want to leave for a second-rate and lower-down-the-league team? We are the future.
With all the fixtures it has been a mad Christmas build up.
Oh, on the 27th December (Thursday) I will be getting my visit to the new stadium. Premium members have been given that date. An hour slot; from the morning to the afternoon.
Merry Christmas to all.
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